Plant Health Propagation Scheme

How commercial plant growers can get Plant Health Propagation Scheme-certified stocks, eligible plant material, husbandry and hygeine standards, and grading system.


This section is for commercial growers of soft fruit, top fruit, hops, bulbs, corms and cobnuts. It explains how the voluntary Plant Health Propagation Scheme (PHPS) works and outlines its benefits to growers.

You can find out how to obtain PHPS-certified stocks so you can be confident that your planting stock is healthy and vigorous and how to enter eligible plant material, the husbandry and hygiene standards you will have to meet and the PHPS grading system. How to propagate healthy fruit plants, hops, bulbs and corms, and cobnuts is also explained.

Plant Health Propagation Scheme

PHPS is run by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and certifies planting stock as being healthy and vigorous. PHPS-certified plants are grown under conditions which promote plant health and freedom from pests and diseases. Some grades of PHPS certificate may also guarantee that the plant is true to its variety.

The PHPS covers strawberries, berry fruit, currants, apples, pears, cherries, plums and hops. Other plants eligible for PHPS include rootstocks and ornamental top fruit varieties and some top and soft fruit plants certified in other countries.

PHPS conditions

Growers in the PHPS have to meet strict conditions established by APHA. Minimum husbandry and hygiene standards are enforced by Plant Health and Seeds Inspectors (PHSIs). In some cases, soil sampling for virus vectors must be carried out before planting.

Plants entered into PHPS must be of known lineage, with the exception of those entered at the lowest grade - Approved Health - which are only inspected for health and vigour. If plants meet all the PHPS conditions they are entered to produce a specific grade and are certified for this grade. The main grades are Foundation, Super Elite, Elite and A.

Due to the lack of available material, industry can submit requests for a dispensation from the rules. If there is a genuine supply problem and there are no problems, such as pests or diseases, then dispensations can be granted. See PHPS dispensations 2014 (PDF, 10.4KB, 1 page) .

Applying to enter crops

Any grower in England and Wales who can meet both the general conditions for entry and the specific conditions for the crop concerned. Your local inspector will be happy to advise you about the Scheme. New growers in particular may wish to consult their local inspector before entering crops into the Scheme. Please refer to the explanatory leaflets for further guidance.

Applications for the PHPS should be addressed to a PHPS franchise operator. See the Nuclear Stock Association (NSA) website for contact details.

Obtaining certified stocks

If you want to buy PHPS-certified stock you can contact your local PHSI office for details of growers of certified crops, or consult the PHPS registers of participating growers.

The certificates will show the material’s grade, variety, certificate number and quantity, as well as the period of validity of the certificate.

Register of growers

Based on information from the PHPS application forms, APHA produces annual registers of growers and stocks for specific types of crop. These registers are produced to provide PHPS participants and their customers with full details of stocks entered into the scheme.

If you are applying to enter the PHPS but don’t want your information included in the register you need to indicate this on the application form.

For a record of PHPS stocks certified in the 2013, see the Nuclear Stock Association (NSA) website.

Soft fruit

The PHPS covers these species of soft fruit (PDF, 3.19MB, 2 pages) :

  • strawberries
  • rubus plants - raspberries, blackberries and hybrid berries
  • ribes - black currants, red currants, white currants and gooseberries


Crops are entered to produce a specific grade and will normally be certified in that grade if all the conditions of the scheme are met. These grades are normally inspected for trueness to type i.e. for conformity with varietal and clonal characteristics (except bulbs). Where this is not possible, a Nominal (N) grade may be available.

The main grades are:

  • Foundation (F)
  • Super Elite (SE)
  • Elite (E)
  • A (A)

In addition an Approved Health (AH) grade is available for some stocks of untested or unknown pedigree. Stocks are inspected for health and vigour only, but they must meet similar conditions in terms of freedom from pests and diseases and if successful they are designated approved rather than certified. For PHPS Growers who have some stocks of genera covered by the PHPS but which cannot meet scheme requirements but which do meet the basic EU requirements there is a CAC designation.

  • Approved Health (A-H)
  • Passporting grade (CAC)

Eligible material

In addition to the categories described above, rootstocks and ornamental varieties associated with top fruit may be submitted for certification. Material from other countries is eligible provided it meets equivalent standards to the Scheme. A table is available indicating equivalence of top fruit certified in other countries. Further tables are available showing the equivalence of certified strawberry material and certified Rubus material from The Netherlands. For details about other crops, please contact your local inspector.

Foundation stock produced in Scotland is eligible for entry into the English and Welsh scheme.

Explanatory leaflets