Basic Vocabulary you Should Know for Gardening

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When selecting plants for your garden, there is a lot of information that is necessary to understand in order for the plants to survive in their desired location. What type of soil does your garden consist of? What type of plant are you planting? How can this plant be utilized in the garden? Often, plants come with tags that offer a little bit of information. Now you can take that information a bit further by knowing the meaning to these gardening terms.

Acid soilSoil is considered to be acidic when the pH is measured to be lower than 7. The lower the number, the higher the level of acid in the soil.
Alkaline soilWhen the pH level is measured to be higher than 7, the soil is considered to be alkaline.
AnnualPlants that grow for only one season
BiennialPlants that grow for two years are considered to be biennial. The first year is when the plant grows and the second year is when the plant flowers or produces fruit. Some biennials, such as Hollyhock, re-seed themselves giving the impression they are perennials.
Broadcast seedingThe act of scattering seeds, by the handful, across a large area. This process is typically used for seeding of lawns and wildflower gardens.
BulbA stem or flower bud that is surrounded by a mass of it’s own food supply.
Butterfly gardeningDesigning a garden that will attract butterflies
Cold frameAn enclosure, which is covered with glass or plastic, used to create a greenhouse effect for young plants.
Companion plantingThe act of planting two different plants within close proximity of each other with the belief that traits from each plant will benefit the other.
Container gardeningUsing containers (flower pots or other such containers) to grow plants rather than an actual garden plot.
CormA mass of stored food consisting of roots at the base and flower buds at the top
CuttingA small piece from a plant intended for the development of another plant – see propagation.
Dead-headThe act of removing spent flowers either with a sharp instrument or by pinching-off
DiploidA plant with the normal amount of chromosomes.
Floribunda or FloridaA plant that flowers in abundance.
ForcingThe act of forcing a plant, or a branch, to bloom by means of an artificially created environment.
GerminationThe time when a seeds has sprouted above the soil.
Hardening-offGradually introducing plants or seedlings to the out-of-doors. This is done over several days, increasing the time outside each day.
Hard-wood cuttingA portion of a mature branch that is in the process of developing roots to produce a new plant.
Heirloom plantA plant, vegetable, or seed that has been in cultivation for several years.
Hummingbird gardeningDesigning a garden that will attract hummingbirds.
LeachDissolving, or moving, nutrients and minerals from the soil by running water through the soil.
LeggyTerm used to describe a plant-or a portion of a plant-that has grown long, thin stalks. This is usually due to lack of adequate sunlight.
PerennialPlants that grow back every year when given proper care.
pHThe measurement of the soil’s alkalinity versus acidity, on a scale of 1-14 with 7 being neutral, 1-6 on the acid side and 8-14 on the alkaline side.
Pinching back / offThe removal of the newest growth of a plant by pinching with your fingers or snipping-off with snipers. This encourages fuller plants.
PropagationProducing multiple plants from a single plant.
RhizomeSimilar to tubers, but longer in shape. Examples: Iris, Cala Lily.
Root boundThe compaction and entanglement of a plants roots within it’s confined growing environment.
RugosaWrinkled or crinkled.
Slow-release fertilizerA type of fertilizer that “breaks-down” over time, moisture content, and/or temperature variances.
Soft-wood cuttingA portion of an immature branch that is in the process of developing roots to produce a new plant.
Sour soilSoil with a high level of acid and a low level of alkaline. The pH of 6 indicates slightly acidic soil and the pH of 4 indicates soil that is very acidic.
Succession plantingThe planting of several flowers or seeds at one time and again at one or two week intervals.
Sweet soilSoil with a high level of alkaline and a low level of acid. The pH of 4 indicates slightly alkaline soil and the pH of 6 indicates soil that is very alkaline.
TetraploidA plant that has twice the number of chromosomes, resulting in larger, thicker flowers. Often, there will be more blooms.
TransplantMoving a plant from one area to another.
Transplant shockThe stage a plant may go through when transplanted. The plant may look “ill” while it adjusts to it’s new location.
TuberA round, food-storing, underground mass of stem tissue. Flowers are developed within the tuber. Examples: Anemone, Cyclamen, Dahlia.
Tuberous rootThe food-storing portion of roots.