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Gardening Glossary
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Aquatic – Any plant that grows either completely submerged in, or with leaves and flowers emerging from, water. It may be rooted in the soil or compost under water, or be free floating.

Adventitious - Having growth from places where normally growth does not occur (i.e. if a stem is buried and a plant will grow.)

Aeration- The loosening of soil by digging or other mechanical means to allow air to pass freely, usually done on lawns.

Aggregate Culture - The use of solid material to grow plants. Some examples are: gravel, rockwool, sand, all with the additional use of a nutrient water soluble solution.

Annual - A plant that will complete its life cycle in one growing season.

Asexual - This is a means of propagation that does not include seed production. Therefore propagating by cuttage, dividing and layering.

Auxin - A hormone that controls plant growth.

Amendment - Usually referring to some form of organic material being added to the soil for the purpose of improvement.

Air Layering - A method of propagating single-stem plants, such as , which have lost their lower leaves and become leggy. An incision is made to a portion of outer stem layer, damp sphagnum moss is wrapped in a bag around it until roots develop. Then it is cut and replanted with its shorter stem size.

Alkaline Soil - Soil that has a pH level of about 7.0 or more. Sometimes referred to as "sweet" soil.

Alpine - Plants from high mountain regions. Anything that is from above the tree line. They are able to overwinter beneath deep snow protected from extreme low temperature by their moisture


Blossom – The massed flower bunches seen on decorative and fruiting trees and some shrubs.

Bolt – The term particularly applied to the early flowering and seeding of vegetables, such as lettuce, which often renders them unfit for culinary use. Sometimes referred to as 'running to seed'.

Blade – The flattened part of the leaf, which provides the surface area for photosynthesis, is referred to as the leaf blade.

Bigeneric - A hybrid that is created by crossing two different genera.

Binomial Nomenclature - The current scientific method of naming species of plants and animals.

Bud - The embryonic shoot on a stem, branch, or tuber. It is the beginning of a bloom.

Bulb - A storage organ, usually formed below ground level, used for propagation. A true bulb consists of fleshy scales surrounding the central bud. We often think of spring and fall bulbs.

Bulbil - An immature small bulb formed on the stem of a plant: e.g. Lily.

Bush - A many branched small shrub with no distinct main stems.

Bonsai - The art of miniaturizing trees by careful root and stem pruning and root restriction.

Bract - A modified leaf, sometimes colored and sometimes mistaken for a petal. Examples of house plants with showy bracts are Poinsettia, Aphelandra, and Bougainvillea.

Bark - The exterior tissue of a woody trunk or stem. it consists of dead material.

Basal foliage - The leaves that grow from the base or crown of a plant.

Berm - A landscaping technique that is used to create interest, privacy, or screening. It may also divert water runoff. It is made by creating a mound of earth or a hill.

Bicolour - A flower with petals which bear two distinctly different colors.

Biennial - A plant that will require two growing seasons to complete its life cycle. In the first year leaves. In the second year has blooms and seeds (i.e. foxglove, hollyhock, rose campion.)


Chlorosis – A deficiency in plant chlorophyll, resulting in pale green, yellow or yellow/white foliage.

Chlorophyll – The green pigment in plant that absorbs sunlight in process of photosynthesis.

Compost – The aerobically decomposed remnants of organic matter used to enrich soil.

Complete Fertilizer - A plant food which contains all three of the primary elements... nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Cover crop - A crop which is planted in the absence of the normal crop to control weeds and add humus to the soil when it is plowed in prior to regular planting.

Callus - Scar tissue that forms when a plant has been damaged or cut. When propagating some succulents it is best to have the leaf form a callus, to prevent disease and rotting.

Creeper - any plant that will make long shoots and grow along the ground such as creeping fig, ivy, or Virginia creeper.

Clone - A genetically identical group of plants, created from one individual by vegetative propagation.

Culinary Herb- A plant grown for its strong flavor which is used to cook with in dishes and salads. the parts of the plant used are the leaves, flowers, or bulbs.

Cotyledon - The first set of leaves to grow after a seed has germinated.

Culun - In the bamboo world this refers to the stem of grasses being usually hollow.

Companion Planting - Different plants that are planted together for the benefit of each other. Whether it be color or roots deeper to bring up the nutrients for the secondary plant. Ground covers are great companion plants.

Catkin - Usually petal-less flowers arranged in a spike.


Dethatch - Process of removing dead stems that build up beneath lawn grasses.

Dioecios - Plants bear male flowers on one plant and female flowers on another. In order to produce fruit and viable seeds, both a female and male plant must be present

Dividing - The process of splitting up plants, roots and all that have began to get bound together. This will make several plants from one plant, and usually should be done to mature perennials every 3 to 4 years.

Dormancy - The yearly cycle in a plants life when growth slows and the plant rests. Fertilizing should be withheld when a plant is in dormancy.

Double Flower - A flower with many overlapping petals which gives it a very full appearance.

Day Neutral - A plant whose blooming period is not affected by the length of day.

Drupe - A type of fruit (i.e. plums, cherries, olives, peaches). Also considered stone fruits. The fruit wall is fleshy. The outside layer is generally juicy. The one seed fruit will not open up.

Dwarf – A plant which is shorter than its normal length.

Double Potting - Placing a potted plant in a larger pot with damp peat moss surrounding it. The peat is kept moist and provides a humid evaporator effect for the potted plant nestled between it. Used a lot to dress up a working clay pot.


Edging Plant - On the edge or border of a bed.

Efflorescence - The deposit of calcium and fertilizer salts on the outer surfaces of clay pots.

Edaphology - The science that deals with the influence of soils on living things, particularly plants including man's use of land for plant growth.

Essential Element -A chemical element required for the normal growth of plants and is irreplaceable for plant growth and development.

Evergreen - Evergreen (or coniferous) trees are ones who retain their leaves all year long. Their leaves are designed to withstand adverse weather conditions such as cold or drought.

Ever blooming - Those flowers that will bloom all season.

Epigeal - Plants whose first leaves (cotyledons) first appear above the soil line during the seed germination.

Exudation - Releasing plant toxic chemicals through the roots so as to prevent nearby plant growth.

Espalier - The method of training a tree or shrub as to grow in a pattern. Often pear trees, apple trees, or ornamental.


Frond - The term used to describe the branch and leaf structure of a fern or members of the palm family.

Foliar Feeding - Fertilizer applied in liquid form to the plants foliage in a fine spray.

Full Shade - This shade is sometimes called deep shade and is created by mature trees.

Fasciation – This is a kind of abnormality in plant, in which stem enlarges into flat, ribbonlike shape resembling several stems fused together.

Feeder Roots - The hair-like roots through which plants get water and nutrients.

Filament - A part of a flower. The stalk found in the stamen of a flower which has the anther (pollen) at the top.

Furrow - A depression in the planting garden either dug by a spade or a plow. It is created to be planted in or to be drainage.

Foliage - Foliage is the leaves of plants.

Flore Pleno - A botanical term describing a flower with extra petals.

Field capacity - Field capacity describes soil when it is completely wetted (excepting free drainage), and where there is plenty of water for plant roots.


Germination – Germination is the sprouting of a seed into a seedling.

Gynaecium – The collective term for the female parts of a flower, comprising ovary, style and stigma.

Grafting - The process of splicing parts of two or more plants together to make one plant is known as grafting.

Geotropism - Tropism in which gravity is the orienting factor, up or down. 2. Tropism in which growth is toward the earth. Also geotropy.

Greenhouse - A building of glass or plastic that is used to grow and protect tender plants.

Green Manure - An organic crop material, turned under the soil, to be used as a fertilizer to add nitrogen to the soil. The green plants decay in the soil and provide humus and make stiff soil more porous and friable. A quick-growing crop is sown and dug into the ground before it reaches maturity (when it will provide the greatest bulk without being to tall to turn under).

Grow Light - A broad-spectrum florescent light used to grow plants indoors.

Growing Point - The tip of a shoot from which new growth emerges

Growth Regulator – A chemical that regulates growth of plants used by nurseries and commercial gardeners. Several examples are Auxin, Gibberellin etc.


Herbaceous – Non-woody plants, whose upper parts die back to the soil surface at the end of the growing season each year.

Hybrid – Term used for the plant resulting from the cross fertilization of two or more plant species or genera.

Homopetalous - Having all the petals formed alike.

Horticulture - The cultivation of a garden, an orchard, or a nursery; the art and science of cultivating flowers, fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.

Host - A plant that supports a parasite that lives in or upon it.

Herb - A plant grown for its medicinal or flavoring qualities, or its scented foliage.

Herbarium - A collection of dried plants mounted, labeled, and systematically arranged for use in scientific study.

Halophyte - A plant that requires or tolerates a saline (high salt) environment.

Heliotropic - Phototropism in which sunlight is the orienting stimulus.

Hummock - A clump of vegetation rising up from wetlands such as bogs or marshes.


Insectivorous - An insect eating plant

Inflorescence - The flowering part of a plant, or mode of flowering. In simplest term, pattern of flowering arrangement. Inflorescence may be of many kinds: spike, panicle, umbel, capitulum, corymb, cyme and spadix.

Internode - The section of stem between two nodes.

Imbibition - Imbibition is the process in which a seed takes up water from its surrounding and swells. This powerful process precedes germination and can spit the seed coat.

Incomplete Flower - An incomplete flower is missing one of the four major parts of the flower, the stamen, pistil, petals, or sepals.

Insitu - The act of sowing seeds or cuttings in the ground where they are to grow.

Intercropping or Interplanting - To grow more than one crop in the same field, especially in alternating rows or sections.

Infiltration rate - The infiltration rate is the speed at which water can pass into the soil.

Indehiscent - A fruit that remains closed at maturity is indehiscent.

Interaxillary - Situated between or within the axils of leaves.

Integument - The outer envelope of an ovule, which, with other parts, forms the seed coat.

Indoor Gardening - The art of growing plants indoors using natural and/or artificial light.


Juvenile - A juvenile plant is is in an early phase of plant growth in which it increases in size but has not yet flowered.


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Leaching - The washing out, usually by rain, of soluble (and some insoluble) minerals from the soil. Because some substances leach faster than others, this may cause a chemical imbalance in the soil, which, in turn, may have a detrimental effect on plants. Commonly a problem with pot plants.

Legume - Bearing seeds along the ventral surface; a leguminous plant.

Layering - A way to propagate plant material. A branch is anchored to the ground (still attached to the parent plant). Roots appear creating another plant.


Monocotyledon - A plant bearing only one cotyledon or seed leaf. Includes all grasses, lilies, bromeliads, orchids, palms, etc.

Monotypic -In classification, monotypic groups are those that contain only a single species.

Mutant - The accidental variation of a plant as a result of genetic mutation.

Monocarp - A plant that bears fruit once and then dies.

Mulch - Any loose, usually organic material (can be small pebbles) over the soil as a protective covering or for decorative purposes. Common mulches are ground bark, saw dust, leaves, pine straw or eucalyptus.

Mutation - Any genetic change in a plant which will lead to a new feature which can be inherited from one generation to another.

Monoecious - A plant which bears both male and female flowers. (Compare to Dioecious)

Midrib - N. central and most prominent vein of a leaf or leaflet.

Microbial Biomass - The total amount of organisms in the soil, excluding macrofauna and plant roots. Microbial biomass is typically determined through substrate-induced respiration, or fumigation-extraction methods.

Manure - Any bulky material supplying nutrients to the soil. May be derived from animals in the form of dung and farmyard waste, or from plants.

Marginal Plant - Plants that will grow on the edges of ponds or lakes and when cultivated will make nice plants around a water garden


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.

Naturalizing - Planting randomly to give the impression of naturally occurring plants. It's commonly used in the planting of bulbs, especially crocuses and daffodils.

Necrosis - The death of plant tissue. It often takes the form of necrotic spots on leaves.

Node - The point on a stem from which a leaf or leaves arise.

Nectar -Nectar is the sweet liquid produced by many flowers. Nectar attracts many insects (like butterflies and bees) who go from flower to flower sipping nectar, causing the pollination of the flowers.

Nut - A hard, indehiscent, one-seeded, fruit, typically with an outer shell.

Node Anchoring - Node anchoring or node cuttings are when you take a cutting of a stem right below a node.

Neutral - This is neither acid nor alkaline; pH 6.5 - 7.5.

Nutrients - Nutrients are 'minerals' needed by plants and animals function and to remain healthy. Iron, calcium, potassium, and sodium are minerals


Offset – A shoot or plantlet produced at the base of a mature plant, which may be used for propagation

Offshoot – A branch that grows from main stem.

Ornamental - A plant that is grown strictly for its foliage or flower rather than for food or any other economic use (i.e. saucer magnolia.)

Over Potting - Repotting a plant into a pot which is too large to allow successful establishment

Organic Farming - A system/philosophy of agriculture that does not allow the use of synthetic chemicals to produce plant and animal products, but instead emphasizes the management of soil organic matter and biological processes. In many countries, products are officially certified as being organic if inspections confirm that they were grown by these methods.

Organic Fertilizer - By-product from the processing of animal or vegetable substances that contain sufficient plant nutrients to be of value as fertilizers.

Organic Soil - A soil in which more than half of the profile thickness is comprised of organic soil materials.

Oligotrophic - Environments, such as soils or lakes, which are poor in nutrients.


Perennials – Any plant with an indefinite life span of more than two years. Some may be quite short-lived, whereas trees can easily survive for centuries.

Petals – The appendages, usually colored, on a flower.

Propagation – Any means of increasing a desired plant, by seeds, by cuttings, layers or graftings etc.

Pedicel - A pedicel is plant stalk that attaches a single flower or fruit to the main branch of the inflorescence.

Perianth - The perianth (which means "around the anthers") is the sepals and petals of a flower.

Phloem - Phloem is plant tissue that conducts nutrients (food) through the plant.

Photoperiod - The length of time of exposure to light.

Pollination - The transfer of pollen from a male flower to a female flower.

Perfect Flower - A flower that contains both male and female flower parts.


Quiescent - When seeds will resume growth at any time upon exposure to favorable conditions: water, oxygen, warmth.


Raceme – A flower cluster borne on short stalk from an unbranched stem.

Rhizome – A thick, fleshy, horizontal, underground or surface stem sending out roots and shoots.


Seedling - Young plant that grows from a seed.

Sepal – The outermost of the fundamental appendages, most often providing protection of the flower during its development

Stolon – A horizontal stem above or just below the ground that forms roots either at the tip or along the length to produce new plants

Self-seeding - Annuals and biennials that produce and drop seeds where they are growing, which then sprout and grow into full-grown plants themselves are self-seeding

Solarization - The process of heating a soil in the field by covering it with clear plastic sheeting during sunny conditions.

Synergism - The ability of two or more organisms to bring about changes (usually chemical) that neither can accomplish alone.

Short day plant - A plant which requires light for a shorter period than it would normally receive from daylight in order to induce flowering; e.g Chrysanthemum and Poinsettia.

Slow-release fertilizer - Fertilizer that releases its nutrients slowly over a period of time in order to avoid burning the plants it is used on.

Succession Planting - Planting fast growing vegetable plants a designated time apart so that you can enjoy continuous harvest through the season.

Single flower - A flower that has only one layer of petals.


Tendril – A spiraling growth that coils around anything it can grab to help support the plant as it climbs.


Umbel – A flat, rounded flower cluster

Underplant – To add one or more complementary, low-growing plants beneath and around taller plants.


Vernalization - The cold treatment necessary for biennials to initiate flowering.

Viable seed - A seed that is capable of germinating under the right conditions.


Warm Season Crops - Plants that require warm soil and warm air temperatures to grow and produce these plants do not tolerate frost; they thrive in summer; setting out warm- weather crops.

Well-drained soil - Soil that allows water to pass through it easily.

Wilting point - The moisture content of soil, on an oven-dry basis, at which plants wilt and fail to recover their turgidity when placed in a dark, humid atmosphere.


xerophyte - Plants that need very little water or that store their own water like cactus.

xylem - The water and mineral conducting portion of vascular tissues.


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