Nutrition Articles

Glossary of Gardening Terms

Definitions of Common Words and Phrases

Expand 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

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.
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About The Author

Jenny Sigler Jenny Sigler
Jenny is a stay-at-home mom to her young children, Augustine and Olive. An avid gardener and baker, she enjoys writing about health and childcare topics to empower people to make healthy choices. See all of Jenny's articles.

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