- A -
ACCENT PLANT - This could be a focal point plant. A plant to catch attention. Also can be called an anchor plant.
ACID SOIL - Soil that is lower than 7.0 ph. Acidity is measured by the amount of calcium in the soil.
AERATION - The loosening of soil by digging to allow air to pass freely, usually done on lawns.
ALKALINE SOIL - Soil that has a pH level of about 7.0 or more.
ANNUAL - A plant which completes its life cycle within one year of germination.
ANTHER - The part of the flower which produces pollen.
AQUATIC - A plant which grows partially or completely in water.
- B -
BACKFILL - Replacing dirt from the original hole after planting.
BEDDING PLANT - Plants suitable for massing in beds for their colorful flowers or foliage. Usually an annual.
BICOLOR - A flower with petals that have two distinctly different colors.
BIENNIAL - A plant which completes its life cycle in two seasons.
BIOLOGICAL PEST CONTROL - Using living organisms such as beneficial insects or parasites to destroy garden pests.
BONSAI - The art of dwarfing trees by careful root and stem pruning.
BOTANICAL NAME - The Latin scientific name of a plant is its botanical name.
BULB - A storage organ, usually formed below ground level, used for propagation.
- C -
CALYX - The outer ring of flower parts, usually green but sometimes colored.
CANOPY - The crowns of trees forming the top layer in the woods or forest.
CARNIVOROUS - Denotes a plant (usually tropical) that typically lives in highly acidic soil that doesn't adequately provide enough nourishment. Nature has adapted these plants to trap and consume insects for this need.
CHLOROSIS - An abnormal yellowing or blanching of the leaves due to lack of chlorophyll.
CHLOROPHYLL - The green pigment in leaves.
COMPOST - Decomposed garden waste such as grass clippings, fallen leaves, and other organic matter. Recycling of garden vegetable matter. Once decomposed, these materials are put back into the soil to enrich it.
CONIFER - An evergreen, generally green, sometimes cone shaped. Generally in a northern region.
CONSERVATORY - A structure composed partly or entirely of glass attached to a house and within which a large number of plants are grown.
CREEPER - any plant that will make long shoots and grow along the ground such as creeping fig or ivy.
CROCK - A piece of broken pot used to help drainage. Almost always referring to clay or ceramic pieces.
CROSS POLLINATION - The transfer of pollen from the flower of one plant to the flower on a different plant.
CULINARY HERB - A plant grown for its strong flavor which is used to cook with in dishes and salads.
CULTIVATE - To remove weeds and debris and loosen the soil.
CUT BACK - Trimming or cutting moderately, making sure some of the last season's growth is left, to clean the plant up and the encourage new growth.
CUTTING - A piece of a plant (leaf, stem or root) which can be used to produce a new plant.
- D -
DAPPLED SHADE - High shade that is created by allowing sun to shine through.
DEAD-HEADING - The removal of past bloom heads of flowers.
DECAY CYCLE - The changes that occur as plants grow, die, and break down in the soil.
DECIDUOUS - Plants that naturally lose their leaves during the winter.
DIVISION - A method of propagating plants by separating each one into two or more sections and then repotting.
DRAINAGE - How water moves through the soil. A real important factor for most plants and gardens. Water should move through the soil whether in a garden or in a container somewhat easily.
DWARF - Shorter than its normal growth. Each family of plants has a height recommendation for dwarfness.
- E -
ENDEMIC - Plants which are of a certain geographic area and generally are confined to that place.
EROSION - The wearing away of soil created by man, rain, or wind.
EVERGREEN - Plants that maintain their leaves all twelve months of the year.
EVERLASTING - Flowers with papery petals which retain some or all of their color when dried for decoration.
EXOTIC - A plant which is not native to the area, but popularly any unusual or striking plant.
- F -
FAMILY - One genus or several genera which have a basically similar floral pattern make up a family.
FIELD GROWN - Grown in the field, as opposed to root cuttings which are grown in pots in greenhouses.
FERTILIZERS - The substance added to soil to provide additional nutrients for plants.
FORCING - The process of making a plant grow or flower before its natural season.
FROND - A leaf of a fern or palm.
FROST - The freezing and condensation of moisture in the air. Frost dates are important to know for your zone or area.
FROST HARDY - Plants that are able to survive winter frosts without damage to their leaves (i.e. evergreens) or damage to dormant stems, buts or roots (i.e. deciduous plants). Relative to geographic areas.
FULL SHADE - This shade is sometimes called deep shade and is created by mature trees.
FULL SUN - Six hours or more in the direct sun during the growing season of the year.
FUNGICIDE - A chemical used to control diseases caused by fungi.
FUNGUS - A primitive form of plant life which is known to the house plant grower as the most common cause of infectious disease.
- G -
GALL - An unusual and abnormal growth on a plant. Caused by insects, but can also be caused by bacteria and fungi. No harm to the plant material other than it is unsightly.
GERMINATION - When seeds begin to sprout.
GRADE - Not your A, B, C's in class, but the degree or direction of a slope, generally.
GRAFTING - The process of joining a stem of one plant on to the stem of another.
GROUND COVER - A plant used to provide a low-growing carpet between other plants.
GROWING SEASON - The period of time from the last frost date in spring to the first frost date in the fall. Vegetables especially will require a certain amount of days to maturity.
GYPSUM - A mineral of calcium sulfate. Gypsum adds calcium to the soil. It also will improve the structure of a clay soil. There will be no change in the pH value of the soil.
- H -
HALF HARDY - An indoor plant which requires a minimum temperature of 50"-55"F for healthy growth.
HARDENING OFF - Gradual acclimatization to colder conditions. Usually used when taking seedlings out of the greenhouse or moving outside to a cold frame or protected area.
HARDINESS - When a plant has the ability to withstand low temperatures or frost.
HARDINESS ZONES - This was created by the US Department of Agriculture. The zones are divided into 11 zones. Based on the average minimum temperature in the winter. Easily found in many books and catalogs. If a plant is recommended for zone four it will grow in tht zone and those higher.
HARDY - A plant which can withstand prolonged exposure to temperatures at or below 45"F.
HARDSCAPE - Includes any garden feature that is not a plant. Like birdbaths, deck, fences, trellises, benches, and patios.
HEDGE - Suitable trees, shrubs, or bushes planted relatively close together so that the branches will intertwine to provide a barrier fence for a windbreaker or privacy.
HEIRLOOM PLANT - Plants that have been around for 50 years or more. Not all people will consider the same plant an heirloom.
HERB - Aromatic plants used for seasoning, medicinal purposes, or garnishes. Aromatic herbs are the ones that have fragrant or smelly leaves or flowers.
HERBICIDE - Any chemical that will kill a plant. There are both selective and non-selective herbicides. Selectives only kill a specific plant and the non-selective kill a larger segment of plants.
HORTICULTURE - The art and science of gardening. Commercial horticulture would include fruit, flower and small scale vegetable growing including the nursery industry. Agriculture covers broad acre farming of plants.
HOST - Any plant material that will support a parasite.
HOUSE PLANTS - Plants that are grown and raised indoors in containers.
HUMUS - A dark colored, stable form of organic matter that remains after most of plant or animal residues have decomposed.
HYBRID - Often refers to a plant or variety that has been developed by interbreeding two or more varieties, species, or gene.
HYDROPONICS - A method of growing a plant in water.
- I -
INDIGENOUS - Plant species that are native to that region.
INFERTILE - Soil that has no nutrients.
INORGANIC - A chemical or fertilizer which is not obtained from a source which is or has been alive.
INSECTICIDE - A chemical used to kill or repel insects.
INSECTICIDAL SOAP - A great alternative to using chemicals on plants. It may not be the total answer to getting rid of insects but certainly should be tried first. A homemade version is two tbsp. to a gallon of water. Several application may have to be used.
INVASIVE - The ability of a plant to spread quickly and will crowd out other plantings Great for a ground cover but dangerous for a well kept, under control garden bed.
- J -
- K -
- L -
LEACHING - This concept regards how water will rinse bad substances (like salt) or good ones (like nutrients) down deep into the soil or as runoff.
LEGGY - Abnormally tall and spindly growth .
LOAM - Good quality soil used in preparing compost. Adequate supplies of clay, sand and fiber must be present.
- M -
MANURE - An organic material excreted by animals. Used as a fertilizer to enrich the soil.
MASS PLANTING - The planting of one particular flower or many of the same kind somewhat close together to create a dramatic "look".
MEDIUMs - A soil or soil-less mix used to start or re-plant houseplants, flowers, vegetables, and other plants:
MILDEW - Several different types of fungi. Two popular types are downy and powdery. It leaves a white coating on the leaves. Common to crepe myrtle, zinnias, grapes, and roses. It shows up in cool, wet weather. Drip irrigation can prevent some occurrence. Plant disease resistant varieties.
MULCH - Any loose, usually organic material placed over the soil as a protective covering or for decorative purposes.
MULTICOLOR - A flower with petals which bear at least three distinctly different colors.
MUTATION - A sudden change in the genetic make-up of a plant, leading to a new feature.
- N -
NATIVE - This refers to a plant that grows in the same habitat in which they originated. These plants can be native to a continent, state, or region.
NATURALIZED - Plants that will behave like native plants in a given geological region. Bulbs naturalize nicely and lend themselves to blooming.
NECTAR - A sugar and water substance secreted by flowers, this will attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds.
NEUTRAL - Neither acid nor alkaline; pH 6.5-7.5.
NITROGEN CYCLE - The transformation of nitrogen from an atmospheric gas to organic compounds in the soil, then to compounds in plants and eventually the release of nitrogen gas back into the atmosphere.
NODE - The point on a stem where a leaf or bud is attached.
- O -
ORGANIC - The general term used for a type of gardening using no chemical or synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
ORNAMENTAL - A plant that is grown strictly for its foliage or flower rather than for food or any other economic use.
OVER POTTING - Repotting a plant into a pot which is too large to allow successful establishment. The roots may die from too much moisture.
OVERSEEDING - Planting on top of an existing garden or lawn. Rye grass over lawns for winter.
- P -
PARASITE - Any plant that grows upon another. It steals its moisture and nourishment from its host.
PEA GRAVEL - Gravel about the size of a pea. Used a lot in driveways and walkways.
PEAT - Partially decomposed sphagnum moss used in making composts.
PEAT POT - Compressed peat into a pot that can be used for starting seeds. When planting times comes this entire pot can be put in the ground and the roots will grow through the pot as it decomposes.
PERENNIAL - A plant which will live for three years or more under normal conditions.
pH - A measure of acidity and alkalinity. Below pH 6.5 is acid, above pH 7.5 is alkaline.
PINCHING - Using your thumb and forefinger to remove (pinch off) the tip growth of plants to encourage a bushier growth habit.
PLUG - A small but well-rooted seedling raised in a cellular tray and sold for growing on.
POCKET GARDEN - A small growing area planted with miniature and dwarf varieties.
POLLEN - The yellow dust produced by the anthers. The male element which fertilized the ovule.
POT-BOUND - A plant growing in a pot which is too small to allow proper leaf and stem growth.
PRE-EMERGENT WEED KILLER - A great idea is good gardening. Although not organic, this is using a herbicide to kill the weed seeds to prevent them from germinating.
PROPAGATION - In gardening, this refers to the many different ways of starting new plants.
PRUNING - A method of cutting off leaves or branches within limits in order to remove dead or diseased foliage or branches. Also used to control or direct growth, increase quality or yield of flowers or fruit and to ensure growth position of main branches to enhance structural strength.
- Q -
- R -
RAISED BED - Any ornamental or vegetable bed that has soil higher than the surrounding immediate area. Sometimes it is bordered by boards, stone, brick or any material to hold in the soil.
REED - Tall grasses that grow in shallow water.
RE-SEEDING - Plants that drop their seeds for next season. Called "easily re-seeders". Wildflowers and weeds are the biggest categories.
RESTING PERIOD - mostly in terms of bulbs, it is a period of dormancy where energy is restored to the plant.
RETAINING WALL - A wall that has been built on a slope to keep the soil from sliding or eroding.
ROCK GARDEN - An area constructed of larger rocks arranged to look natural. Planted with plants that generally do not need a lot of care.
ROOT BALL - Matted roots plus enclosed soil within a the pot of a container grown plant.
ROOT-BOUND - Often, when plants are left too long in their container, the roots become entangled and begin to grow in circles.
ROOTING HORMONE - A chemical in powder or liquid form which promotes the formation of roots.
ROOT ROT - Quite common in plants that are effected by fungus diseases and have poor drainage.
ROTATION - Specifically towards crop rotation: changing the plants in the same growing area. This will decrease the soil born diseased.
RUNOFF - When liquids (such as in watering an area of ground or a fast rain) washes off quickly a run off is created. Often pesticides and fertilizers are washed into waterways from lawn and garden runoff.
- S -
SAP - the fluid in plants.
SAPLING - A very young tree.
SCALE - Sucking insects. Usually more prevalent in milder climates. Need to be treated.
SELF-SEEDED, or SELF SOWING - A plant's habit of shedding seeds in the immediate area. They will then germinate without outside help. Many annuals use self seeding.
SEMI-EVERGREEN - Those shrubs that will keep some of their green foliage usually in mild climates.
SHEAR - A method of pruning in the landscape.
SHRUB -- A woody plant with a framework of branches and little or no central stem.
SOAKER HOSE - Hoses that have hundreds of mini holes to let the water out slowly and can be left on for a long period of time. Great for vegetable gardens and beds that need to be watered frequently.
SOIL AMENDMENT - Anything added to the soil to improve the present situation, i.e. drainage, nutrients, or makeup.
SOIL LESS GARDENING - Another name for hydroponics. Gardening in something other than soil or water and rocks.
SOIL LESS MIX - This would be any medium for containers. The substances would be like peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, or materials like sand or bark. Fertilizing is a must since none of these have any real nutrient quality.
SOIL POLYMERS - Super absorbent polymers that have been around for a while, that can be added to retain moisture containers. It will absorb many times over its weight in water. Use sparingly.
SPECIMEN PLANT - A plant that is high lighted to show off its special qualities. Sometimes used as a focal point.
SPENT - Bulbs and flowers of a plant that have finished blooming.
SPHAGNUM MOSS -- Various mosses native to bogs are sphagnum. Often used for the lining of hanging baskets and for air layering.
SPICES - seeds, fruits, or roots (rhizomes) used to flavor cooking.
SPORE - A microscopic reproductive cell of non-flowering plants (i.e. ferns, lichens, mosses, fungi, and algae). Many times we can see spores on the backside of ferns.
STAMEN - The male reproductive parts of a flower.
STANDARD - A plant which does not normally grow as a tree but is trained into a tree-like form.
STEM CUTTING - A portion of a stem that only includes one or more nodes taken from a plant. Stem cuttings are a good way to propagate.
STERILIZED SOIL - It is soil that is steamed or chemically sterilized. Harmful organisms have been killed but helpful bacteria have been spared. Sold commercially.
SUBTROPICAL - Very specific area, 5 to 10 degrees higher in latitude than the Tropic of Cancer of the Tropic of Capricorn.
SUCCULENT - Succulents plants have leaves and/or stems which are thick and fleshy. They often have waxy outer layers that allow the plants to retain water well.
SUCKER - A shoot which arises from an underground shoot or root of a plant.
SUNKEN GARDEN - A landscape design where some of the garden is at a lower point than the rest of the garden. Created for interest.
STAKING - Plants that grow tall with little stem support need to be staked.
SYSTEMIC - A pesticide which goes inside the plant and travels in the sap stream.
- T -
TENDER - An indoor plant which requires a minimum temperature of 60°F.
TENDRIL - Plants (like sweet peas, clematis, and grapes) producing a cordlike structure that will help to support themselves.
TERRA COTTA - An Italian term that means "baked earth". Clay pots are usually unglazed and excellent for growing most plant material. They do dry out quickly and salts will bleed through the porous surfaces.
TERRARIUM - A partly or entirely closed glass container used to house a collection of indoor plants.
THINNING - Picking out the overpopulated seedlings in any flower or vegetable bed, to make a better growing condition for the rest.
TILL - Another definition for cultivating. Plowing the earth and preparing it for planting.
TOPIARY - The art of clipping woody plants to form geometric shapes or intricate patterns.
TOPSOIL - Soil that is on the very top, hopefully containing a lot of humus and good elements needed for growth.
TRAILING - Any plant that grows long stems and will grow along the ground and will root as it goes along.
TREE - A woody plant with a distinct central trunk..
TROPICAL PLANT - A plant that grows in tropic zones.
TUBER - A storage organ used for propagation.
- U -
- V -
VARIEGATED LEAF - A green leaf design which is blotched, edged or spotted with yellow, white or cream color.
VARIETY - One of possibly many closely-related plant species. The variety name is usually in Latin.
VERTICILLIUM - A fungus disease that will cause wilting and death. This is the "V" in "V,F,N".
VIRUS - A plant disease that cannot be eliminated by chemical means. Most are feared by growers.
- W -
WARM SEASON GRASS - These grasses are grown in temperatures above 70 and 80 degrees. They will go dormant in winter. Examples are Bermuda grass, a variety of St. Augustine.
WEED - An uninvited and usually unattractive plant that surfaces in gardens. Usually seeds are delivered by winds.
WILDFLOWER - Plants that can be native or exotic when growing out in a non-cultivated area. They flower and are enjoyed by all.
WILT - A plant disease. This can be caused by bacteria or fungi. Many are carried by insects.
WINDOW BOX - A container placed under a window.
WINTER KILL - A condition that happens when plants have not hardened enough to withstand sever winter conditions. The plants may not be hardy for the zone.
WOODLAND GARDEN - This garden is usually established beneath deciduous trees. It may vary from partial to deep shade and usually with plant material where roots need to remain undisturbed.
WOODY PLANT - These are usually perennial plants (i.e.. vines, shrubs, trees, and bamboos) that have permanent stems. These branches get bigger every year.
WORM (eisenia foetida) - A very unappreciated mover & shaker of the earth. Mother Nature's natural composter.
- X -
XERISCAPE - This is a patented name that stands for a landscaping method that is based on low water volume and drought resistant plants.