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NC State Extension

Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti

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Identification and Use – Online Continuing Education



Self-Study (Ongoing – one year access from the time of enrollment)

We are now offering TWO VERSIONS of this course, the Full Course and the Self-Study course! See below.

About This Class

Have you ever wondered what the holes in a swiss-cheese-plant leaf are called, and why they’re there? Did you know that there are cacti in tropical rainforests? How do you tell the difference between a Thanksgiving cactus and a Christmas Cactus? Join Longwood Gardens and NC State University Department of Horticultural Science for this fully-online introduction to houseplants, succulents, and cacti. These species are some of the most unique and fascinating in the plant kingdom and have a botanical vocabulary all their own.

Full Course:
In this six-week class, students will explore 50 popular houseplants, succulents, and cacti as they learn the fundamentals of plant identification. Through engaging online live sessions, photo stories, Longwood Gardens Plant Fact pages, discussion forums, and hundreds of beautiful images, you’ll learn the key identifying characteristics of these plants, gain skills to identify new plants you’ll encounter outside this class, and learn some fun facts along the way.

This class is fully online and self-paced! Set your own schedule, and work at your own pace. You can participate anywhere that you have access to the internet, and you will have access to the course resources 24/7 for the entire six weeks of the class and for six months after the course ends. There are no required presentations or any set times that you will need to meet online. For an additional fee, you may choose to purchase an optional print copy of the online e-book that is included with the course. We recommend accessing the course via Google Chrome on a computer or tablet for the best functionality.

New for 2022! We are now offering a CONDENSED, COMPLETELY ASYNCHRONOUS self-study version of our popular online, plant ID class Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti! This course will be open for an entire year (April 2022 – April 2023), during which students can complete the materials on their own time. Unlike the full course offering, the self-study class will have no live components (instructor interaction, live sessions, discussion posts, graded assignments, and quizzes etc.) and no set times to complete the material. This option is perfect for those who want the information provided in our regular Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti course, but with a more relaxed time frame and a lower price point. If you decide that you would like instructor feedback via discussions and assignments, interactive discussions, additional information, and completion certificates, you can request a discount code to take the price of the self-study course off the full version of Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti. Please note that no completion certificates are offered for the self-study classes, and no credit is given toward Longwood’s certifications.

We can’t wait to see you online!


Usually offered the second week of March and October (full course)


Fully online.

This is one of four plant ID courses, each focused on different plant groupings that include some favorites as well as a few introductions from the research and breeding programs at Longwood Gardens and North Carolina State University. Below are links to the other ID classes in the series, as well as Understanding Plants:


Full Course

  • $189 General Public
  • $179 Early Bird discount (available to everyone until 1 week before the classes start)
  • $98 Master Gardeners and JCRA Volunteers with discount code
  • $59 Extension Professionals with discount code


  • $99 General Public
  • $89 Master Gardeners, JCRA Volunteers, and Extension Professionals with discount code

Email for more information on how to obtain a discount code.

Additional Information