MNLA Certified Professionals

Prove what you know.

Become a Minnesota Nursery & Landscape

Association Certified Professional


The Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota as well as other institutions of higher learning, offers the Certified Professional designation. MNLA-CPs have studied a broad range of horticultural topics and have then passed a rigorous examination of general industry knowledge, as well as an examination within their specialty field (grower, garden center, or landscape).


Program Objective

The objective of the MNLA Certified Professional program is to uphold, improve, and promote standards of professionalism and excellence within the industry. By focusing on individuals rather than companies, the program encourages self-improvement among industry professionals.


Why Become a MNLA Certified Professional?

The Certification status benefits individuals by:

  • Instilling pride and confidence.
  • Bringing greater value to the nursery and landscape industry profession.
  • Demonstrating commitment to the nursery and landscape industry.
  • Enhancing employability and opportunity within the industry.


How can being certified benefit and advance my career? 

  • Certification identifies you as a professional.
  • Certification gives you credentials and proves your qualifications.
  • Certification provides you instant credibility with your peers, customers and employers.
  • Certification demonstrates commitment to your profession.
  • Certification distinguishes you from the competition.
  • Certification qualifies you to do expert work and give advice.


Certified professionals are encouraged to promote their certification to the public

  • Add the MNLA Certified Professional logo to business cards.
  • Add MNLA CP to signature block on letterhead and emails.
  • Add the MNLA CP logo to marketing information and on signs used during landscape installations.
  • Add the MNLA CP logo to company website and include a link to the MNLA certification program at
  • If your business is an MNLA member, make sure your consumer directory listing indicates your professional certification(s).
  • Carry your MNLA Certificate of Achievement and/or display a certification plaque.
  • Proudly wear your MNLA CP lapel pin.
  • If you are not already a MNLA member, become one. MNLA offers money-saving member benefits, education programs at a discount, and invaluable business networking opportunities for its members. Click here to join.


Businesses should Encourage Employees to become certified

  • Businesses that employ Certified Professionals enhance their professional image.
  • Employing Certified Professionals shows the public that you hire employees who have demonstrated they are knowledgeable and experienced professionals. It shows that your employees have taken that extra step to set themselves apart as leaders and industry professionals.
  • The certified status can increase customer recognition and respect, provide a consumer marketing tool
  • It can offer an additional tool for employee motivation, evaluation and advancement.


You are eligible to apply to sit for the exam if you meet the following requirements:

  • Two years of study in an accredited post-secondary nursery and/or landscape program that includes a structured internship, OR
  • A minimum of 2000 hours in nursery or landscape-related employment.

A signature of an educational advisor or work supervisor is required on the exam registration form to verify completion of the prerequisite.



Fall 2020 exam dates are below:

October 23-FULL and 30; November 6 and 13-FULL

Click here for an Exam Application for the Fall 2020 exams.



Complete an exam application and mail, fax or email to the MNLA office. Payment must accompany the application.

Send completed application with exam fee to:

Fax:  651-633-4986 | Email:

Mail to:  MNLA Office, 1813 Lexington Avenue N, Roseville, MN  55113

  • Testing is limited to 7 applicants per test date.
  • Applicants may sit for the exam once each month.
  • Registration is on a first come, first served basis. Please apply early!



  • The exam is given in an electronic format with integrated photos and videos.
  • Applicants will report to the MNLA Office in Roseville and take the exam in a classroom while sitting at a laptop computer.
  • Exam applicants are allowed 4 hours to complete the exam.
  • Exam results are provided immediately upon completing the exam.


Beginning January 2020, the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association will institute a Certified Professional Fellow designation. 

The Fellow designation is for MNLA Certified Professionals who are in good standing (e.g., not lapsed or expired) and who have maintained their status as an MNLA Certified Professional for at least 20 consecutive years. 

Certified Professional Fellows are longstanding nursery and landscape professionals and are recognized as industry leaders. Their commitment to uphold, improve and promote standards of professional excellence, and consistent participation in professional development activities and service to the green industry is being recognized with this Fellow designation.

When the Fellow designation is achieved, it will have no expiration date and there will be no recertification fees required. The Fellow status will be listed on the Certified Professional’s record in the online directory.

Certified Professional Fellows will no longer be required to submit recertification credits to MNLA. However, they are encouraged to continue on-going professional improvement through education and service, and act as ambassadors of MNLA and the nursery and landscape profession.

Certified Professionals interested in the Fellow status can complete an application themselves or be nominated by a colleague. Applications will be reviewed and approved by the MNLA Certification Task Team. Once approved, the Fellow will be notified by email and sent a congratulatory letter and certificate. 

CLICK HERE for a request for Fellow Status Application. 



Exam Content

Nursery and landscape professionals typically specialize in one or more areas of the industry. Therefore, the MNLA/UM CP examination program includes three specializations as follows:  

Garden Center Specialty: Retail and Re-wholesale

Grower Specialty: Nursery Grower and Greenhouse Grower

Landscape Specialty: Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design, Landscape Installation, Landscape Contracting, Landscape Maintenance and Management, and Professional Gardening

  • All examinations are 200 questions and consist of questions in a True/False and Multiple-Choice format.
  • The Basic Knowledge Exam will also include multiple-choice questions for plant identification from digital photos and videos of plant samples in a dormant or growing condition.
  • A Landscape Plan shall be part of the Garden Center and the Landscape Examinations.
  • To become certified, a passing score of 75% is required for both the basic knowledge and the specialty exam.


What Do I Need to Know For the Exam?

Questions on the exam are based on:

  1. Information from in the MNLA/UM Certification Manual.
  2. Information and knowledge gained by the applicant’s collegiate or industry experience.

Each Certification candidate should, at a minimum, read the entire study manual and then concentrate in depth studies on the basic knowledge chapters and the chapters for the desired specialization.



Third Edition published December 2006 and updated October 2010. © Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association and University of Minnesota

The manual is a cooperative effort between MNLA and the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

The MNLA/UM Certification Manual consists of 50 Chapters and presents technical, applicable and instructional information on most green industry disciplines ranging from design to production, to hardscaping to garden centers, to marketing and to safety. 

The Glossary provides definitions of over 700 horticultural terms.

The Units of Measure and Conversion Factors chapter contains hundreds of abbreviations, equivalent measures, conversion factors, plant spacing data and landscape installation data. 

Topics in the Certification Manual include:

  • Minnesota laws and regulations
  • Biology
  • Plant materials
  • Nomenclature and classification
  • Plant production and culture
  • Pest management
  • Business operations
  • Landscape design
  • A section on plant identification is also included which features 381 plant images of 182 plants.

Chapters from the study manual are found at the bottom of this page.


Other Study Materials 

Plant Identification Webinar:

Tim Vogel, Bailey Nurseries created this Plant Identification Webinar as a study tool to prepare for the Plant Identification portion of the exam.

Plant Identification Webinar by Tim Vogel, Bailey Nurseries, Inc.- CLICK HERE

American Standard for Nursery Stock:

It is recommended that green industry professionals are familiar with the information found in The American Standard for Nursery Stock which was revised in 2014. Click the link below to download and print.

Scoop "Magic from the Manual" Articles: 

The MNLA Certification Committee has written a series of articles entitled Certification Training - Magic from the Manual.  The information is taken directly from the some of the chapters of the Certification Manual. These articles are being provided as a tool to help you study for the Certification Exam. Click on the titles below to view the article: 

Vegetable Gardening
Plant ID
Landscape Grass
Plant Cold Hardiness
Soil Texture vs. Structure
Foliage Plants 
Soils for Nursery & Landscape Management
Multiple Roles of the Plant Hormone Ethylene
Insect Management
Occupational Health & Safety
Proper Watering Controls



The MNLA Certification Committee put together learning objectives for each chapter of the Certification Manual as a reference guide for preparing for the exam. It is recommended you review the Learning Objectives before studying the materials.To access the learning objectives, CLICK HERE.


Practice Exam

To familiarize yourself with the format and content of the MNLA Certification Exam, use the following link to access a practice exam: CLICK HERE to take a practice exam.

Both the Landscape Specialty Exam and the Garden Center Specialty Exam include questions that relate to a landscape plan. CLICK HERE to see a sample landscape plan and sample questions that relate to it.



To encourage on-going professional improvement through education and service to the industry, MNLA has instituted a recertification requirement to keep certification status current. It is the certified professional's responsibility to keep track of continuing education activity. 

All individuals must compile at least 18 credits every three years and pay a $15.00 recertification fee to maintain their certification status.


mnla ReCertification is now online

The online format will allow Certified Professionals to enter and track continuing education credits as they accrue them by logging into their own professional development journal on the MNLA website.

To access your profile, you must sign in on the MNLA website using your MNLA username and password. If you do not know your login information, please contact Sue Flynn at or call 651-633-4987. 

To Access Your Online Profile:

1. Log in to with your username and password.
2. Select My Profile (top right of screen). Scroll down to the Contents & Features section, then click on Professional Development on the lower right corner of that section. This will take you to your personal journal.

Journal Entries Tab:

Here, you will add and track education credits that will go toward your MNLA recertification.

Your Entries 

  • MNLA Certified Professionals are required to earn 18 recertification credits in a 3-year period to remain current.
  • You will see an entry that MNLA has added to your profile: Your original Certification date is ______. Your current recertification period is set to expire in ______. Use this date when adding recertification credits.

To Add a Recertification Credit:

Click Add Entry. A pop-up form will appear.

  • Certification Program—Choose MNLA Certified Professional Recertification. 
  • Credit Type—Choose from the drop down options.
  • Entry Date—Add the date of the event.
  • Description—Enter the title of the program you attended. Pleas provide as much detail as possible.
  • Credits—Enter the number of credits you are submitting for the program you attended.
  • Credits Expire—Enter your recertification expiration date (found in the initial journal entry made by MNLA.)
  • Score—Leave blank.
  • Activity Code—Leave blank.
  • Click Submit.You will receive an email notice that your journal entry has been approved with a link for payment of the required $15.00 fee online.
PDF instruction sheet to download:  Step-by-Step Instructions to MNLA Recertification

Please note: Blue recertification cards will be be accepted through 2019.

Below are examples of educational events and professional services that qualify towards recertification (Note: All events and activities applicable to the nursery and landscape industry that improve professionalism count for recertification points):

  • Attend a one-hour seminar/webinar - 1 point
  • Teach a one-hour seminar - 3 points
  • Attend a half day (2-4 hour) seminar - 2 points
  • Teach a half day (2-4 hour) seminar - 6 points
  • Attend a full day (4-6 hour) seminar - 3 points
  • Participate in a one-hour online webinar - 1 point
  • Teach a full day (4-6 hour) seminar - 9 points
  • Attend a college level quarter or semester course -1 point/credit
  • Teach a college level semester course - 3 points/credit
  • Write 5 questions with answers for the Certification Exam (max 2 points/year) - 2 points
  • Coach an individual who becomes certified - 3 points
  • Write an article that is published in The Scoop or other trade publications - 3 points
  • Serve on an MNLA committee (or other similar service) - 2 points/committee (per year)
  • Serve as a Legislative Liaison with Local Legislators - 2 points
  • Attend MNLA open forum/town hall meeting to express concerns - 1 point
  • Attend Day on the Hill activities - 3 points
  • Attend an MNLA networking group meeting - 1 point per meeting
  • Horticultural service to the community - 2 points
  • Excellence in job performance as recognized by immediate supervisor/employer - 2 points per year (max 6 points in -3 years)


Recertification Opportunities

  • MNLA offers a number of excellent educational opportunities throughout the year, including online learning and webinars. For a list of upcoming education opportunities, visit the MNLA Event Calendar.
  • The education sessions offered at Northern Green at the Minneapolis Convention Center every year in January are also an excellent opportunity to achieve recertication points. For information, visit Northern Green.
  • The education and activities you submit do not have to be MNLA-sponsored activities.
  • Don't forget your volunteer service - such as planting a community garden, volunteering or mentoring.



If you have obtained certification and then relocate to a different state, you can apply for certification without taking an additional exam. Listed below are the states that offer MNLA certification reciprocity:

  • Illinois Green Industry Association
  • Indiana Nursery & Landscape Association
  • Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association
  • Michigan Nursery & Landscape Association
  • Nebraska Nursery & Landscape Association
  • North Dakota Nursery & Greenhouse Association
  • New York Nursery & Landscape Association
  • Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association
  • Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association
  • South Dakota Nursery & Landscape Association
  • Wisconsin Nursery Association Inc.




Certification Manual

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Chapter 1-3. Table of Contents, etc. PDF (50.14 KB) Administration 10/16/2019
Chapter 4. MNLA/UM Certification Information PDF (146.24 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 5. Laws/Regulations/Guides/Ethics/Profess PDF (563.13 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 6. Environmental Management PDF (197.42 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 7. Occupational Health and Safety PDF (1.86 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 8. Shipping and Handling PDF (850.94 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 9. American Standard for Nursery Stock PDF (52.58 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 10. Plant Nomenclature/Classification PDF (96.57 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 11. Plant Structure PDF (1.1 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 12. Plant Growth and Development PDF (185.62 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 13. Plant Cold Hardiness/Winter Protection PDF (588.01 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 14. Annual Flowers PDF (155.25 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 15. Fruit Trees and Small Fruits PDF (148.23 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 16. Ground Covers PDF (91.23 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 17. Herbaceous Perennials PDF (147.91 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 18. Indoor Flowering/Foliage Plants PDF (117.46 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 19. Landscape Grasses PDF (168.83 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 20. Roses PDF (187.61 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 21. Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines PDF (240.17 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 22. Plant ID Resource PDF (52.17 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 23.1. Plant Identification Photos PDF (3.91 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 23.2. Plant Identification Photos PDF (3.03 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 23.3. Plant Identification Photos- PDF (5.91 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 23.4. Plant Identification Photos PDF (5.13 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 23.5. Plant Identification Photos PDF (4.89 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 24. Soils for Nursery & Landscape Mgmt PDF (307 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 25. Fertilization for Nurs/Landscape Mgmt PDF (354.28 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 26. Planting and Transplanting PDF (264.61 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 27. Irrigation Management PDF (1.03 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 28. Pruning in the Nursery & Landscape PDF (1.15 MB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 29. Landscape Management PDF (254.35 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 30. Professional Gardening PDF (138.88 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 31. Turf Management PDF (411.56 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 32. Garden Center Plant Management PDF (166.49 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
Chapter 33. Vegetable Gardening PDF (121.3 KB)  more ] Administration 10/4/2018
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1813 Lexington Avenue N
Roseville, MN 55113

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Fax: 651. 633. 4986