Glossary of Gardening Terms
Annual - A plant that grows, flowers, goes to seed, and dies in one year.
Biennial - A plant that grows the first year, flowers the second year, and then goes to seed. Many biennials will then reseed and continue this process on their own for many years.
Bolting - The early flowering of a plant before it develops its crop. Cabbage, lettuce, radishes, and several other crops are subject to bolting. Often caused by rapid temperature changes, cool temperatures, and over fertilization with hot manures.
Bracts - Leaves that develop just below the flowers on some plants. For example, poinsettia bracts, which most people think are the flowers because they turn red, pink, or white. On close inspection, however, you will discover the flowers singly or in clusters above.
Broadcast - To simply scatter seed by hand over the area to be seeded, rather than sowing in rows.
Bud Union - The point where a plant has been grafted. Usually indicated by a small knoblike growth on a tree, shrub, or rosebush.
Cambium Layer - The green growth layer just next to the bark.
Candles (Pine) - New growth that has an upright habit and looks similar to candles until it unfurls. The new growth on pines.
Cane Berries - Types of berries that grow on canes (stocks) rather than vines.
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 - A plant that bears cones or similar seed cases. Most are evergreen and have needle-like foliage.
Cultivate - To remove weeds and debris and loosen the soil.
Deciduous - Plants that naturally lose their leaves during the winter.
Drip Line - The outer edge of a tree or shrub, the point where water would drip to the ground from the outer leaves of a plant. Often used as a reference point for feeding plants.
Evergreens - Plants that maintain their leaves all twelve months of the year.
5-10-10 - Standard commercial fertilizer used for vegetable gardening. All fertilizers have three numbers. The first is nitrogen, the second is phosphorus, and the third is potash. Canadians often use 4-10-10 instead.
Foliar Feeding - Applying liquid solutions of fertilizer to the leaves of plants, where they are quickly absorbed.
Germination - When seeds begin to sprout.
Girdling - Usually refers to tying wire or rope too tightly around the branch or trunk of a plant; it disrupts and restricts growth, often killing the plant.
Herbicide, Preemergent - A weed or grass killer that kills seeds before they begin to grow.
Herbs - Aromatic plants used for seasoning, medicinal purposes, or garnishes. Aromatic herbs are the ones that have fragrant or smelly leaves or flowers.
Hybrid - Often refers to a plant or variety that has been developed by interbreeding two or more varieties, species, or genera.
Irrigation Method - Watering plants by letting the water run from the hose on the ground around the plant puddling or soaking instead of sprinkling
Leaching - The process whereby a substance, such as fertilizer, dissolves and is carried away by rain water.
Leggy Growth - New growth that is out of proportion to the rest of the plant.
Medium - A soil or soil-less mix used to start or re-plant houseplants, flowers, vegetables, and other plants:
Mottling of Leaves - Discoloration or spotting of leaves.
Node - The point where leaf growth begins.
Outcropping - Landscape beds extending out beyond their surroundings. An extended shrub bed.
Perennial - A plant that grows and flowers for many years. Some are evergreens; others may die back to the ground but will grow back again the following season.
Pinching - Using your thumb and forefinger to remove (pinch off) the tip growth of plants to encourage a bushier growth habit.
Processed Manure - Sterilized, dried, and bagged manure. Usually sold in 40- or 50-pound bags.
Raised Beds - Planting areas that are mounded or boxed above ground level. Hilling soil is another method of raising the soil level. Soil dries out and warms up much more quickly permitting earlier planting and later harvesting.
Rank Foliage - New foliage that has grown too large.
Rhizome - A thickened stem with root below and growth above. The area where food energy may be stored, as in bearded iris.
Sandy Loam - A combination of sandy soil and loam. Sand content provides good drainage. Loam contains more body and is a combination of silt, sand, and clay.
Spent Flowers - Dead or dying flowers.
Spindly Growth - Leggy, long, or flimsy new growth that has developed out of proportion to the rest of the plant.
Thatch - A layer of dead grass that builds up between soil level and the blades of the grass. It keeps air, water, and fertilizer from reaching the soil below.
Twist Ties - Short lengths of wire encased in a protective coating; they are less likely to damage or girdle branches, stems, and other parts of plants.
Vegetable Thinning - Removing seedlings that are planted too closely together, so those remaining have sufficient space in which to properly mature.
Volatile Action - An uncontrolled and unintended chemical reaction to certain conditions. For example, if temperatures are too warm, Casoron will vaporize and be lost into the air and/or is apt to burn foliage due to the vapors.
V-Shaped Furrow - A planting trench made in the shape of the letter V. It is wide at the top and pointed at the bottom.