Page 1 of 2Expand your vocabulary or clarify some common gardening words and phrases with this easy-to-follow glossary of common terms. Bookmark this for later use!
Acidic soil - Any soil with a pH lower than 7.
Alkaline (basic) soil - Any soil with a pH higher than 7, often associated with hard water.
Annual - A plant that completes its life cycle in one year.
Bareroot - Dormant plants that are taken out of the ground, removed of their soil, and preserved until shipping.
Biennial - A plant that completes its life cycle in two years.
Bolting - When a plant produces flowers or seeds prematurely instead of a crop. This is usually the result of excessive heat and sun exposure.
Companion planting - The belief that two plants growing near each other produce mutual benefits. Learn more at www.companionplanting.net.
Compost- A mixture of decaying, organic materials (such as kitchen scraps) used for soil amending, fertilizing, and mulching.
Cutting - A plant propagation method wherein a part of a plant is cut and dipped in a rooting hormone to eventually grow into a new plant.
Dead heading - The act of pinching or cutting off spent flowers.
Direct sowing - Germinating seeds at the site you want them to grow, as opposed to growing them indoors before transplanting.
Everblooming - A flower that produces a continual supply of blooms throughout a season.
Family - One group used in classifying organisms. Families consist of a number of similar genera (plural for genus).
Full sun - If a plant requires “full sun” then it needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive.
Genus - A group of species of plants that are closely related.
Germinate - The beginning of growth in a seed; to sprout.
Hardy - A plant that can withstand frost exposure without means of protection.
Hardiness zone - A geographically defined zone determined by temperature that categorizes which plants can thrive where; hardiness zones are designated by a number (1-11), such as zone 7. Gardening books and websites can help you determine your hardiness zone.
Herbicide - A substance that destroys plants or inhibits their growth.
Heirloom - An open-pollinated plant variety that has remained unchanged through hybridization for at least 50-100 years.
Horticulture - The art and science of cultivating plants.
Humus - Decomposed plant matter that is part of the soil.
Hybrid - The crossbreeding of two plants of different species or varieties with distinct characteristics.
Loam - Rich soil consisting of 25 percent clay, 50 percent silt, and less than 50 percent sand; considered ideal soil for gardening and agriculture.