Have you ever found good information on a gardening topic that you really wanted to know about, but it had terms in it that you didn't know the meaning of? It can become frustrating coping with the many different terms and descriptions.
Garden Gate Greenhouse is providing this glossary listing of definitions to help clear this up for you. Now you are only just a couple of clicks away at any time from knowing exactly what these terms mean. If there is a word you feel should be included that isn't here, contact us so that we can add it.

- B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

-- A --

Accent Plant (Anchor Plant) - This could be a focal point plant, A plant intended to catch attention.
Acid Medium - A compost which contains little or no lime and has a pH of less than 6.5. Sometimes referred to as "sour" soil by gardeners.
Acid Rain - Rainwater that contains sulfur dioxide and other pollutants from industrial plants.
Adventitious - Having growth from places where normally growth does not occur (for example if a stem is buried and a plant will grow.)

Adventitious Plant - A young plant that develops in an asexual manner on the leaves or stems of the mother plant. (Kolanchoe are good examples of this.)
Aeration - The loosening of soil by digging or other mechanical means to allow air to pass freely.

Aerial Root - A root which grows out from the stem above ground level. Aerial roots are commonly seen on mature specimens of Monstera deliciosa.

Aerobic - Usually used for describing a characteristic of compost heaps. Describes organisms living or occurring only in the presence of oxygen.
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.

Agricultural Extension Service - A county agency that is supported and monitored by the land grant university for each individual state. Great place to seek out the horticultural agent, receive publications, and advice. This is your taxes in action.

Air Layering - A method of propagating single-stem plants, such as Ficus elastica decora, 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 by gardeners.
All American Rose Selections, Inc. (AARS) - This is made up of roses that have been on trial for two years in official test gardens throughout the US. The association is comprised of rose producers, growers, and people who introduce new hybrids.

All America Selections (AAS) - This is a group of people in the horticultural business who test new cultivars of flowers and vegetables. All of these gold medal winners can be raised from seed.

Allee - A very formal design of planting trees lining both sides of a path or drive.

Allelopathy - The release of chemicals by certain plants that will prevent the growing of other plants nearby. Walnut trees are very well known to do this.

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.

Alpine House - A special greenhouse created to meet the requirements of alpines. It is usually kept cool in the summer by shading the glass. In the winter it is unheated unless it needs to provide protection from very severe cold.
Alternate - Leaf form, where the leaves are arranged singly at different heights on the stem. Compare opposite and whorled.

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

Amphibious - The ability of plants to brow both in aquatic and in the exposed soil. Usually in a moist or boggy condition, when the winter recedes in the area.
Anaerobic - Describes organisms living or occurring when oxygen is absent. Usually term used when talking about compost heaps.
Anchor Plant (Accent Plant) - This could be a focal point plant, A plant intended to catch attention. 

Annual - A plant which completes its life cycle within one year of germination. Compare biennial and perennial.

Anther - The part of the flower which produces pollen. It is the upper section of the stamen.
Aphids - Small sap sucking insects. They infect foliage and are easily recognized by the sugary "honey dew" that they secrete that often attracts ants. Can be controlled by application of soapy solution. (see Sooty Mold)

Apical - At the tip of a branch.

Aquatic - Plant which grows partially or completely in water.
Arbor (Pergola) - A free standing structure used in the garden to support vines or climbing plants of all sorts for shade, a walkway, or just a focal point. 

Arborist - A specialist who cares and maintains trees. Everything from planting, to pruning and also diagnosing and treating diseases.

Arboretum - This is a garden with a large collection of trees and shrubs. They are specifically grown for scientific or educational purpose.

Areole - A small well-defined area, usually hairy and cushion-like, found on the stem of cacti. From them arise spinesorglochids.
Aroid (Arum) - Any plant of the family Araceae; have small flowers massed on a spadix surrounded by a large spathe

Asexual - Vegetative reproductions - e.r. cuttings and division.
Atrium - A structure that provides lots of above light for plants. Commercial buildings often have their foyer as an atrium. Many homes have built in atriums.

Auxin - A hormone that controls plant growth.
Awl-Shaped - A narrow leaf which tapers to a stiff point.

Axil - The angle between the upper surface of a leaf or leaf stalk and the stem that carries it. A growth or flower bud ("axillary bud") often appears in the axil.

-- B --

B and B - Balled and burlap, a method in which plants are sold where the roots of a plant have been lifted and wrapped in burlap (sometimes plastic covered material) to keep it together until transplanted. Large trees are often sold this way.

BT - Bacillus thuringiensis. A bacterium which will destroy the stomach cells of insects that consume it. It degrades quickly in sunlight so spray early in the evening. This biological insecticides will also kill young butterfly caterpillars. 

Backbulb - refers to the propagation of an orchid. It is the old, dormant pseudobulb, it may be leafless, but will still produce a new plant.

Backfill - Replacing dirt from the original hole after planting.

Backyard Wildlife Habitat - A dreamy situation where native plant materials are providing food and shelter for protection and reproduction for birds, insects, and mammals in one's own backyard.

Bale - The area of the trunk between the base of a tree and the lowest branch.
Bare-Root - Usually referring to deciduous shrubs and trees, and some other perennials, with all the soil removed from their roots that are sold at nurseries.

Bearded - A petal bearing a tuft or row of long hairs.

Bedding Plant - Plants suitable for massing in beds for their colorful flowers or foliage. Usually annuals.
Bell Jar - An old term and glass container which is bell shaped. On the top is a knob for the use of protection of a delicate plant. From the Victorian Era and now days known as a cloche.

Beneficial Insect - These are insects that will improve and work in our gardens. By improving the soil, going after harmful insects, and will pollinate plants. Ladybeetles, earthworms, and bees are well known.

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.

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

Biennial - A plant which completes its life cycle in two seasons. Compare annual and perennial.

Bigeneric - A hybrid produced by crossing two different genera.
Binomial Nomenclature - The current scientific method of naming species of plants and animals.

Biological Pest Control - Using living organisms such as beneficial insects or parasites to destroy garden pests.
Black Spot - A disease on the foliage of roses. It is caused by moisture. To avoid, plant disease-resistant roses. Clean up after pruning. One can use fungicide during damp weather - captan, copper, or lime sulfur are most effective when you follow the instructions carefully. One can also use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) at a rate of one teaspoon to one gallon. Use in the morning to prevent sun scald. You may also try neem oil.

Blade - The expanded part of a leaf or petal.
Blanch - To keep light from the leaves and stems, keeping the pant tissue soft (i.e. endive is grown this way).

Bleeding - The loss of sap from plant tissues which have been cut.

Blind - The loss of the growing point, resulting in stoppage of growth. Also, failure to produce flowers or fruit.

Bloom - A natural mealy or waxy coating covering the leaves of some house plants.
Blossom End Rot - A cultural deficiency created by a lack of calcium. Very closely related to extreme temperatures, uneven watering, and root damage. Most commonly seen in peppers and tomatoes.

Bog Plant - Plants that prefer damp and most soil as their habitat (for example the pitcher plant, Venus fly trap.)

Bole - The area of a tree trunk that is from the ground to the first major branch.

Bolt - Annual vegetables or flowers that grow quickly to flowering stage at the expense of their best overall development.
Bonemeal - A fertilizer made from crushed animal bones. It is a natural high phosphorus fertilizer, very slow releasing and good for root development.

Bones-of-the-Garden - In the language of garden design this is the permanent structural elements that give the shape to gardens: paths, walls, steps, fences, trellises, seats, water gardens, and hedges

Bonsai - The art of dwarfing trees by careful root and stem pruning coupled with root restriction.

Boss - A ring of prominent and decorative stamens.

Botanical Name - The Latin scientific name of a plant is its botanical name. There is only one botanical name per plant so if you want a specific variety, use it's botanical name to be sure you're getting what you want.

Bottle Garden - A form of terrarium in which a large and heavy glass container such as a carboy is used.

Bottom Heat - Undersurface heat provided in the soil by electric cables or hot water pipes.

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

Break - Production of a side shoot after removal of the growing point.
Broadcast - A method by which seeds or fertilizer are scattering randomly to cover an area.

Brown Rot - A fungus that is very common disease on fruit. Buy disease resistant varieties. Remove all infected parts of the plant.

Bud - The embryonic shoot on a stem, branch, or tuber. It is the beginning of a bloom.
Builders Sand (Sharp Sand) - A rough sand; great for drainage, and propagation, not to mention starting of seeds.

Bulb - A storage organ, usually formed below ground level, used for propagation. A true bulb consists of fleshy scales surrounding the central bud, but the term is often loosely applied to corms, rhizomes and tubers.

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

Bulblet - An immature small bulb formed at the base of a mature bulb; e.g Hyacinth.
Bush - A many branched small shrub with no distinct main stems.

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-- C -

Calcitic Limestone - A common material used for 'liming' soil that has an acid level that is too high. This type is most commonly used and contains calcium carbonate.
Caliche - A soil condition found in some areas of the arid Southwest, or as the result of synthetic fertilizers, caliche is a deposit of calcium carbonate (lime) beneath the soil surface. This condition is more commonly called 'hardpan' and creates an impervious layer in lower levels of soil.
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.

Calyx - The outer ring of flower parts, usually green but sometimes colored.

Cambium - This is the thin membrane that grows just under the bark of a plant.

Cane - A slender, straight, not very woody branch or stem of a plant (i.e. bamboo, rose, raspberry and blackberry bushes.)

Canker - An area on soft or rotten woody stems or twigs that is caused by bacteria and fungi.

Canopy - The crowns of trees forming the top layer in the woods or forest. Considered the high shade of gardens.
Capillary Action - The natural upward movement of water in confined areas, such as the spaces between soil particles.
Capsule - A dry seed pod that will split wide open when mature..

Carboy - A large and heavy glass vessel, originally designed for the storage of chemicals but now commonly used as a container for bottle gardens.

Carnivorous - Used in the gardening world to denote a plant (usually tropical) that typically lives in highly acidic soil that doesn't adequately provide enough nourishment. Nature has adapted these plants to trap and consume insects for this need. An example is the Venus Flytrap plant.

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

Cell Pack - A group of gardeners traveling together in a confined space for snipping and stealing plant material in a botanical garden.

Chlorophyll - The green pigment in leaves. It will be dominant in the plant when present or healthy.

Chlorosis - An abnormal yellowing or blanching of the leaves due to lack of chlorophyll.

Cladode - A modified stem which has taken on the form of a leaf; e.g the needlelike "leaves" of Asparagus Fern.

Clay Aggregate - A product that is manufactured exclusively in high tech kilns in Germany and used as a soil replacement on hydroponics. It once was very popular in the late '70's - '80's. Now making a comeback.

Climbers - Those gardeners who are willing to hike for distances to see an alpine specimen. 

Cloche - This is a cover for protecting plants from the cold. In the early 19th century it was more popular, being bell shaped. Now, more conventional models are in all the catalogs.

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

Club Root - A disease of cabbages and some related vegetables caused by the slime mold fungus.

Cold Compost - A method by which organic material just rots on its own. It may take months or years to naturally decompose. There may be a significant amount of weed seeds. And, there may be the danger of some disease organisms still in the compost.

Cole Crops - These are members of the cabbage family (ie. broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards, kohlorabi)

Colored Leaf - Leaves with one or more colors apart from green, white or cream are distinctly present.

Common Name - The name by which plants are known by non-botanists. Plants that have a short history of cultivation may not have a common name. these names vary from country to country, even from region to region.

Compaction - Often this term comes up when one is talking about new landscaping around a new construction whether it be a private home site, or commercial site. Compaction is created by heavy machinery squeezing the layers of the soil together. It is destructive to the composition and structure of the soil. No longer are there healthy air pockets for roots. The soil is no longer of good texture for planting. Often nutrients are washed away due to poor drainage, or no drainage at all.

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.

Complete Fertilizer - A fertilizer that can provide all the three main elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Compost - Usual meaning for the house plant grower is a potting or seed/cutting mixture made from peat ("soilless compost") or sterilized soil ("loam compost") plus other materials such as sand, lime and fertilizer. Compost is also a term for decomposed organic matter such is what's left after a compost heap has degraded vegetable and animal matter. An excellent source of organic material for rebuilding and enriching soil.

Compost Heap (Composting) - The result and act of combining organic materials under controlled conditions so that the original raw ingredients are transformed by decay and degradation into humus (or compost).

Compound Flower - A flower made up of many florets, e.g Chrysanthemum.

Compound Leaf - A leaf made up or two or more leaflets attached to the leaf stalk; e.g Schefflera.
Conifer - An evergreen, generally green, sometimes cone shaped. Generally in a northern region.

Conservatory - A structure composed partly or entirely of glass. attached to the house and within which a large number of plants are grown and enjoyed.
Cordon - A very interesting way to grow fruit trees. Apples and pears do well in this mode. The tree is repeatedly pruned and trained to grow as a single rope like stem. For lack of space, this is ideal.

Corm - A swollen, underground stem base used for propagation; e.g Crocus.

Corolla - The ring of separate or fused petals which is nearly always responsible for the main floral display.
Cotyledon - The first set of leaves to grow after a seed has germinated.

Cover Crop - A crop grown to protect and enrich the soil or to control weeds.
Creeper - any plant that will make long shoots and grow along the ground such as creeping fig, ivy, or Virginia creeper.

Crested - Cockscomb-like growth of leaves, stems or flowers. Other name -- cristate.

Crock - A piece of broken pot used to help drainage. Almost always referring to clay or ceramic pieces.
Crocking - Any material used in the bottom of containers to provide drainage (i.e. shells, rocks, broken pottery, Styrofoam.)

Cross - Another name for hybrid, but used in much more common terms.

Cross Pollination - The transfer of pollen from the flower of one plant to the flower on a different plant. Many species require this to set seed. As opposed to self-pollination.

Crown - The region where shoot and root join, usually at or very near ground level.
Crucifer - Any plant in the crucifer of mustard family. Those flowers with four petals are arranged like a cross.

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.

Cultivate - Breaking the topsoil so water and air can penetrate, and to prevent weeds.

Cultivation - The technique of weeding and hoeing for the purpose of increasing the air in the to layers of the soil and to break up the soil so water will penetrate.

Cultivar - Used when determining plant names. Indicates the variety originated in cultivation and not the wild. This portion of a plants name is usually not Latin.
Culun - In the bamboo world this refers to the stem of grasses being usually hollow.

Cut Back - Trimming or cutting moderately, making sure some of the last season's growth is left, to clean the plant up and the encourage new growth.

Cutting - A piece of a plant (leaf, stem or root) which can be used to produce a new plant.

Cyme - A flat-topped or domed flower head in which the flowers at the center open first.

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-- D --

Damping Off - Decay of young seedlings at ground level following fungal attack. Often the result of soil borne diseases and over watering.
Dappled Shade- High shade that is created by allowing sun to shine through.

Dark-Dependant Seeds - Seeds that germinate only in darkness. So, must be covered with soil.

Day Length - This merely is the number of hours from sunrise to sunset. Sometimes used interchangeably with photo period.

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

Dead-Heading - The removal of faded heads of flowers.

Decay Cycle - The changes that occur as plants grow, die, and break down in the soil.

Deciduous - These are plants that loose their leaves at the end of the growing season. Maple trees are a good example.
Defoliate - To strip the leaves or branches from a plant.
Degradation - The breakdown of plant matter into smaller components, typically through weathering.
Demineralisation - The removal of minerals and mineral salts from a liquid, especially from water.
Dethatch - The process of taking up dead grass and plant material that builds up under the grass making the soil easier to absorb nutrients.

Dibble - A tool used to make holes for seeds or bulbs: a pencil end, dowel, or anything that works for the situation.

Dieback - A process caused by disease or pests. It is the death of the tips of branches and shoots. It will progress until the whole plant dies.

Diocecious - A plant which bears either male or female flowers. (Compare to Monoecious)
Direct Seeding - putting the seed directly in the soil as opposed to transplanting seedlings.

Disbudding - In reference to fruit crops, by selectively taking off buds to diminish the crop production and to have quality over quantity.

Dish Garden - This arrangement is most seen in florists. Many plants grown together to be used indoors for a focal point of greenery. 

Disc (Disk) - The flat central part of a compound flower. It is made up of short, tubular florets.

Distilled Water - Pure water free from dissolved salts. Formerly made by distillation, now produced chemically by demineralisation.
Dither - Just a plain old utensil of any kind to make a hole in the ground to drop a seed into.

Division - A method of propagating plants by separating each one into two or more sections and then repotting.

Dolomitic Limestone - Sometimes used when 'liming' soil that has an acid pH level that is too high. As it contains calcium and magnesium carbonate it should be used only with soils that are also deficient in magnesium as well. (See also Calcitic Limestone)

Dormant Period (Dormancy) - The time when a plant has naturally stopped growing and the leaves have fallen or the top growth has died down. The dormant period is usually, but not always, in winter. Compare resting period.
Double Digging - A method of deep cultivation.

Double Flower - The Latin name for this is "flore pleno." It refers to flowers that have many petals present, such as roses.

Double Potting - An American term for placing a potted plant in a larger pot with damp peat moss surrounding it. The peat is kept moist and provides a humid evaporative effect for the potted plant nestled between it.
Downy Mildew - A certain kind of mildew caused by a special fungi. Often confused with sooty mildew and powdery mildew. As with all mildews it is a problem in hot and humid weather. And, like many fungi it transports its spores. The plants affected will have fuzzy patches on the leaves.

Drainage - How water moves through the soil. A real important factor for most plants and gardens. In general water should move through the soil whether in a garden or in a container somewhat easily. If there is standing water create better drainage by adding non-porous material.

Drawn - Excessively tall and weak growth, caused by plants being grown in too little light or too closely together.
Drift - A design term generally attributed to Gertrude Jekyll. To express a feeling in with plants. The technique is to plant flowers thicker in the center and further apart on the outskirts.

Drip Irrigation - A trickle irrigation system. Highly recommended for soaking the soil well.

Drip Line - The imaginary line under the tips of the canopy of a tree.

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 - Shorter than its normal growth. Each family of plants has a height recommendation for dwarfness

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-- E --

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.

Endemic - Plants which are of a certain geographic area and generally are confined to that place
Entire Leaf - An undivided and unserrated leaf.

Epiphyte - A plant which grows above ground attaching itself to trees or rocks. The Amazon Air Plant seen in many nurseries is a good example.
Erosion - The wearing away of soil created by man, rain, or wind. Not a healthy situation.

Escape - A plant that is on its way to becoming naturalized in an area. Just exactly as it reads, it has escaped from cultivation.

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

Evapotranspiration - Abbreviated as ET, it is the amount of water that transpires through a plants leaves combined with the amount that evaporates from the soil in which it is growing. Used as a guide for how much water a plant needs per day/week/year.
Everblooming - Those flowers that will bloom all season.

Evergreen - A plant which retains its leaves in a living state during the winter.

Everlasting - Flowers with papery petals which retain some or all of their color when dried for winter decorations.

Exotic - Strictly speaking, a plant which is not native to the area, but popularly any unusual or striking plant.

Eye - This has two unrelated meanings; an undeveloped growth bud, or the center of a flower.

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-- F -

F1 Hybrid - A first generation offspring of two purebred strains. An Fl hybrid is generally more vigorous than an ordinary hybrid.
F2 Hybrid - This is the product of two F1 plants that have been crossed. This is considered the second generation. This will not necessarily produce a great plant.

Fairy Ring - A circle of fungal growth.

Fasciation - This effects many herbaceous and woody plants. This is a genetic mutation or imbalance in growth caused by absorption of a herbicide. Remove all effected stems.

Family - One genus or several genera which have a basically similar floral pattern make up a family.
Feat Moss (Peat) - Partially decomposed sphagnum moss or sedge used in making composts. Valuable for its pronounced air and water holding capacity and its freedom from weeds and disease organisms.

Fertilize (Fertilizers) - The act of or the actual substance added to soil to provide additional nutrients for plants. May also be used to describe the pollination process flowers undergo with the help of bees and other insects.

Fibrous-Rooted - A root system which contains many thin roots rather than a single tap root.
Field Grown - Grown in the field, as opposed to root cuttings which are grown in pots in greenhouses.

Flat - A shallow box or tray used to start cuttings or seedlings.
Flore Pleno - A botanical term describing a flower with extra petals.

Floret - A small flower which is part of a much larger compound flower head; e.g Cineraria.

Flower Spike - A flower head made up of a central stem with the flowers growing directly on it.

Foliar Fertilizer - A fertilizer applied in liquid form to a plant's foliage in a fine spray so that the plant can absorb the nutrients through its leaves.
Forcing - The process of making a plant grow or flower before its natural season.
Foundation Planting - Any plant that is used around a building for the sole purpose of making it look more esthetic. In earlier days it was to cover the foundation.

Frond - A leaf of a fern or palm.
Frost - The freezing and condensation of moisture in the air. Frost dates are important to know for your zone or area.

Frost Hardy - Plants that are able to survive winter frosts without damage to their leaves (i.e. evergreens) or damage to dormant stems, buts or roots (i.e. deciduous plants). Very much relative to geographic areas.

Frost Tender - These plants will be damaged or killed by even the lightest of winter frosts. Most evident would be tropical plants stretched to a cooler zone.

Fruit Fly - A small insect pest that will lay its eggs beneath the surface of developing fruits. The larvae will then grow quickly and exit through holes in the fruit or vegetable causing rot.

Full Shade - This shade is sometimes called deep shade and is created by mature trees. Denoted on this site with

Full Sun - Six hours or more in the direct sun during the growing season of the year. Denoted on this site with

Fungicide - A chemical used to control diseases caused by fungi.

Fungus - A primitive form of plant life which is known to the house plant grower as the most common cause of infectious disease -- powdery mildew. sooty mould and area mould.
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.

Fusarium - This fungal disease is soil borne and causes wilting and death mostly in herbaceous plants. This is the "F" in VFN on plant tags that denote fusarium resistant.

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-- G --

Gall - An unusual and abnormal growth on a plant. Caused by insects, but can also be caused by bacteria and fungi. No harm to the plant material other than it is unsightly.

Garden Designer - A person who professionally will create plans for a home or public space. Many are self-taught, and not generally licensed by the state. Not to be confused with garden architects who are specifically trained and licensed. Garden designers sometimes are referred to as landscape designers.
Genus - Used when naming plants. Genus is the plant equivalent of our surnames. When followed by the name of the 'Species' you have it's botanical name. Almost always in Latin.
Geotropism - Not a commonly used term but it is the response to gravity. Plant parts that grow downward, such as the roots, would be positive geotropism. A negative geotropism would be the stems growing upward.

Germination - The first stage in the development of a plant from seed.
Gibberellin - A hormone used in plant production. Often used in Camellia blooms and in increasing the size of fruits

Girdling - The choking of a branch by a wire, rope or other inflexible material which usually occurs most often in woody stemmed plants that have been tied down too tightly without regard for growth.

Glabrous - Plant surface which is smooth and hairless.

Glade - An open space in a woodland area.

Glasshouse - our British friends use this in reference to a greenhouse.

Glaucous - Plant surface which is covered with a bluish-gray bloom.

Glen - A very romantic term meaning a narrow valley.
Glochid - A small hooked hair borne on some cacti.
Grade - The degree or direction of a slope, generally. Real important with house construction and ground placement.

Grafting - The process of joining a stem or bud of one plant on to the stem of another.
Granular Fertilizer - A fertilizer that is dry and is a tiny pellet form. It is spreadable and should be measured. A granular fertilizer can come in both a natural and synthetic form.

Greenhouse - A structure that can be build out of glass, plastic, or fiberglass. This building will be controlled in its temperature and humidity. Greenhouses are used for public display, cultivation, and in general protection of plants. Greenhouses come in hobby sizes and as commercial usage.

Green Manure - A crop (such as rye grass) that is grown and then incorporated into the soil to increase soil fertility or organic matter content. Usually turned over into the soil a few weeks before new planting begins.
Greensand - A sediment composed of grains of glauconite mingled with clay or sand used as an organic fertilizer. It contains about twenty-two trace minerals including potash, silica, iron oxide, magnesia, lime, and phosphoric acid. Mined in Florida, once the ocean floor. Roses and tomatoes love it. The material will prolong fruiting and loosen heavy clay soils.

Ground Cover - A plant used to provide a low-growing carpet between other plants.
Growing Habit - A direction or shape a plant takes as it grows.

Growing Point - The tip of a stem, which is responsible for extension growth.
Growing Season - The period of time from the last frost date in spring to the first frost date in the fall. Vegetables especially will require a certain amount of days to maturity. Make sure your growing season is long enough fro what you are planting.

Growth Regulator - A commercial chemical used by nurseries to change the shape of a plant. In general to dwarf a plant or to make the stems shorter. Kalanchoe are often dwarfed and then forced to bloom. The plant eventually will grow out of this, especially if cuttings are taken.

Gypsum - A mineral of calcium sulfate. Gypsum adds calcium to the soil. It also will improve the structure of a clay soil. There will be no change in the pH value of the soil.

Gypsy Moth - A caterpillar about 1 1/2 inches long that came from Europe. these larvae do great damage by chewing and sometimes defoliating the entire tree

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-- H --

Habit - The shape or form of a plant, growing vertical, laterally, or rounded. It is important to know the habit of a plant so one can expect certain growth patterns.

Habitat - The environment in which a plant is usually found growing, the factors being climate and soil. Microclimates will also play into this.

Haha - In the 18th and 19th century the dry moat or ditch around the English Manor house was created to keep animals from roaming too close.
Half Hardy - An indoor plant which requires a minimum temperature of 50o-55o F for healthy growth. Compare hardy and tender.
Halophyte - Those plants that will tolerate salt in the soil. Mostly coastal plants in the dunes, or marshes.

Hardening Off - Gradual acclimatization to colder conditions. Usually used when talking about transplanting of greenhouse plants or seedlings. Can be as simple as moving outside into a protected area for a short time, to more involved methods.

Hardiness Zones - This was created by the US Department of Agriculture. The zones are divided into 11 zones. Based on the average minimum temperature in the winter. It is important to note that this has all been revised and good to recheck. Easily found in many books and catalogs. If a plant is recommended for zone four it will grow in that zone and those higher.

Hardpan - Compacted soil, sometimes new, created by construction. Water will run off and plant roots can not penetrate the layer. Can be broken up.

Hardscape - Includes any garden feature that is not a plant. Like birdbaths, deck, fences, trellises, benches, and patios.

Hardy - A plant which can withstand prolonged exposure to temperatures at or below 45o F. Compare half hardy and tender.

Hay - Stems of grass. Most popular feed for horses and cattle, however gardeners are always looking for "spoiled hay" or "mulch hay". This is hay that has rotted or gotten moldy. It is great for compost piles and using as a mulch. Beware of weed seeds.

Heading Back - The process of cutting an older branch or stem to a twig or stub.

Heart Rot - most commonly heard of in reference to trees. The center merely has rotted out. Can also happen in root vegetables.

Heaving - When there is a climate change from frost to warming of the soil, it often causes the soil to buckle upward. Sometimes called frost heaves.

Hedge - Suitable trees, shrubs, or bushes planted relatively close together so that the branches will intertwine to provide a barrier fence for a windbreaker or privacy. Hedges can be any height or width depending on the plant material used. Generally they are long lived species.

Hedge Row - Just as it reads; a row of plant material (shrubs and trees) that are suitable for hedges.

Heel - A strip of bark and wood remaining at the base of a side shoot cutting pulled off a main shoot. Some cuttings root more readily if a heel is attached.
Heel Cutting - A short, side branch taken as a cutting with a small piece of the main stem. Often taken with old rose cuttings.

Heeling-In - This is a temporary planting procedure until a plant can be put in its permanent place. The plant will benefit from the soil temperature.

Heirloom Plant - Plants that have been around for 50 years or more. Not all people will consider the same plant an heirloom.

Herb - A plant grown for flavoring or medicinal purposes.

Herbaceous - A plant with a non-woody stem. The upper parts will die back at the end of the growing season. This term, which generally refers to perennials, is attributed to Gertrude Jekyll.
Herbaceous Border - Probably more known in ferns with Gertrude Jekyll as she created great colorful perennial boarders in contrast to previous Victorian annuals in their showy and symmetrical beds. Of great interest and diversity.

Herbarium - A collection of dried specimens and a research center. It is a special kind of museum. 
Herbicide - Any chemical that will kill a plant. There are both selective and non-selective herbicides. Selective types only kill a specific plant and the non-selective kill a larger segment of plants.

High Shade - Always a difficult gauge but generally it is the shade beneath trees that have been "limbed up" or pruned to get some light in.

Hill Up - To pull the soil around the stem of a plant for support.
Honeydew - Sticky, sugary secretion deposited on plants by insects such as aphid and whitefly.
Horticulture - The art and science of gardening. Commercial horticulture would include fruit, flower and small scale vegetable growing including the nursery industry. Agriculture covers broad acre farming of plants.

Horticultural Oil - This includes both a dormant oil and a summer oil - used to smother eggs and developing insects on trees and ornamentals. The heavier oils are used in the late winter or very early spring, making sure the temperatures are over 40°F but before the plant leafs out. The lighter summer oil can be used anytime the temperature is below 85°F.

Hortus - A plant dictionary that was originally created by Liberty Hyde Bailey in 1930, consisting of plants that were and are cultivated in the U.S. and Canada. It has been rewritten by the staff of the L.H. Bailey Hororium at Cornell University. It is a must-have reference book for your shelf.

Host - Any plant material that will support a parasite. Oak trees will host mistletoe that will create damage and oaks can also host Spanish moss that does no harm.

Hot Cap - Cones that are used a lot in cooler zones to protect newly planted seedlings from cold weather and birds. Usually made of plastic or a very heavy translucent waxed paper.

Hot House - Another term for a greenhouse sometimes found in earlier garden writings.

House Plants - Plants that are grown and raised indoors in containers.

Humidifier - A piece of equipment used to raise the humidity of the air in a room.

Humus - A dark colored, stable form of organic matter that remains after most of plant or animal residues have decomposed.

Hybrid - A plant with parents which are genetically distinct. The parent plants may be different cultivars, varieties, species or genera but not different families.
Hyperturea - Lately this has become very popular. A replica lightweight rock material created by equal amounts of dry cement, sand, perlite, peat moss, and water. This is made into troughs, planters, and rock all in the manner of looking old.

Hydroponics - A method of growing a plant in water containing dissolved nutrients.

Hygrometer - An instrument used to measure the Relative Humidity of the air.

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-- I --

Ikebana - The formal flower arranging done by the Japanese. Special attention and thought to balance, harmony, and form.

Indeterminate - Being able to grow for an indefinite period of time (many types of tomatoes for example).

Indigenous - Plant species that are native to that region. These plants are believed to be growing in the wild at least for the span of human history.

Infertile Soil - Soil that has no nutrients.
Inflorescence (Peduncle) - The arrangement of flowers on the stem. A flower head.

Inoculants - A seed treatment medium that contains the sybiotic rhizobial bacteria to capture nitrogen when in contact with legume roots.

Inorganic - A chemical or fertilizer which is not obtained from a source which is or has been alive.

Insecticide - A chemical (synthetic or organic) used to kill or repel insects.
Insecticidal Soap - A great alternative to using chemicals on plants. It may not be the total answer to getting rid of insects but certainly should be tried first. Several applications may have to be used.

Insectivorous Plant - Another term for carnivorous plants. Plants that will trap and digest insects that will supply them with nitrogen. Most of these plants grow in swamps where it is difficult to obtain nitrogen.

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

Intercropping (Interplanting) - A smart way to garden; Mixing two or more plants, tall and short, for foliage difference, or combining plants that bloom at different times of the year. It keeps the interest in the garden.

Internode - The part of the stem between one node and another.

Invasive - The ability of a plant to spread quickly and will crowd out other plantings. Great for a ground cover but dangerous for a well kept, under control garden bed.

Iron Chelate - This is often recommended when plants are showing signs of chlorosis. It is a form of iron, being readily absorbed by plants, especially in alkaline soils.

IPM (Integrated Pest Management) - A method by which gardeners can learn to manage and eradicate pests by choosing appropriate plants providing good growing conditions and minimizing pests rather than annihilating them.

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-- J --

Japanese Beetle - If there is one bug every gardener should know it is the Japanese beetle. Its larvae in the soil is known as the white grub that will eat the roots of your grassy lawn. When the beetle appears it eats its way through plants especially roses and leaves them in skeleton-like forms.

Japanese Gardens - Gardens that are designed with a Japanese cultural influence. Using particular plants for the design. Often with a Zen influences. Bamboo, pine, mondo grasses, koi are often used.
Joint (Node) - The point on a stem where a leaf or bud is attached.

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-- K --

Keel - A boat-shaped structure formed by the two lower petals of many members of the Leguminosae.

Kernel - The edible part of nut.

Knocking Out - The temporary removal of a plant from its pot in order to check the condition of the root ball.

Knot Garden - A very carefully planned garden of small dwarf shrubs or even herbs. Planned in a pattern and kept in order by constant pruning and trimming.

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-- L --

Lacewing - A beneficial insect about one inch in length that will eat mites, aphids, and thrip.

Landscape Architect - A very good professional to consider when creating a garden. They are licensed by the state and know the mechanics of major construction, grading, drainage, and will advice solutions to problems.

Landscape Fabric - Probably one of your best solutions against weeds for beds. This can be a variety of materials: newspaper, plastic, porous fibers, burlap. It provides a barrier for weeds to germinate. This is then dressed with mulch of any kind.

Lath - A structure used to create shade. Made of any material, evenly spaced to let in some light.

Latex - Milky sap which exudes from cut surfaces of a few house plants, such as Ficus elastica decora and Euphorbia.

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

Leaching - A similar concept to making tea which leaches out the flavor of the tea leaves. This concept regards how water will rinse bad substances (like salt) or good ones (like nutrients) down deep into the soil or as runoff.
Leader - The main growing shoot of a sapling, it eventually will become the trunk of the tree.

Leaf Cutter (Leaf Cutting) - A method of propagation; a leaf is removed and is placed in vermiculite or perlite for future baby plants.

Leaf Mould - Partially decayed leaves used in some potting mixtures. It must be sieved and sterilized before use.

Leaflet - A leaf-like section of a compound leaf.
Leaf Roller - Different moths that will roll leaves when larvae. Cannas often get a lot of leaf rollers.

Leggy - Abnormally tall and spindly growth .

Legume - A plant whose roots form an association with soilborne bacteria that can capture atmospheric nitrogen. A good example of this are soybeans.
Lichen - A combined growing condition of algae and fungus. It looks crusty, and comes in many colors: gray, green, bluish, or browns.

Limbing Up - Pruning off the lower limbs of trees, usually for ease of walking underneath or admitting sunlight.

Lithophyte - Plants that grow on rocks or other areas that do not need soil. They will receive their nourishment from the air. Orchids and lichens are good examples.

Loam - Good quality soil used in preparing compost. Adequate supplies of clay, sand and fiber must be present.

Long Day Plant - A plant which requires light for a longer period than it would normally receive from daylight in order to induce flowering; e.g Saintpaulia.

-- M --

Macramé - Decoratively knotted rope or cord forming a harness-like structure for hanging pots.

Manure - An organic material excreted by animals (usually from steer is sold commonly) this is used as a fertilizer and an amendment to enrich the soil.
Manure Tea - A liquid fertilizer made by mixing manures with water and filtering out. Pillow cases filled with cow or horse patooties and dunked in a pail of water.

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

Mass Planting - The planting of one particular flower or many of the same kind somewhat close together to create a dramatic look.

Master Gardener - County residents who volunteer and are trained to work with the extension service.

Microclimate - The warmth and humidity of the air in close proximity to a plant. It may differ significantly from the general climate of the room.

Microcutting - A plant produced by micropropagation -- a modern technique using tiny pieces of the parent plant on a sterile nutrient jelly.
Micronutrients - These are the very important nutrients that plants need for proper growth. Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and from the soil they will acquire nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus and in smaller quantities calcium, sulfur, and magnesium.

Microorganisms - Animals and plants that are too small to be seen clearly with the naked eye.
Micro Propigation - Also called propagating by tissue culture. Taking cell slices of plant material and starting growth on culture dishes.

Mildew - Several different types of fungi. Two popular types are downy and powdery. It leaves a white coating on the leaves. Common to crepe myrtle, zinnias, grapes, and roses and even bee balms. It shows up in cool, wet weather. Drip irrigation can prevent some occurrences. Plant disease resistant varieties

Mist Propagation - The ideal method of propagation under glass, using automatic mist generators and soil heaters.
Mixed Border - Some of this, some of that in a border. Shrubs and woody plants that are still in the bed when the annuals and perennials are gone for the season.

Moist but not Wet - Plants that grow well in moist conditions but not entirely wet. Whether it be in the ground or in a container

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

Moon Gardening - A very romantic night garden created by using white night flowering plants or light variegated leaf varieties of plants.

Mouth - The open end of a bell shaped or tubular flower.

Mowing Strip - Sometimes known as an edging strip. The six to eight inches of space between the lawn and the flower or vegetable bed. The flat area decoratively made with cement or brick.

Mulch - Any loose, usually organic material placed over the soil as a protective covering or for decorative purposes. Common mulches are ground bark, saw dust, leaves or straw.

Multicolor - A flower with petals which bear at least three distinctly different colors.

Mutation - A sudden change in the genetic make-up of a plant, leading to a new feature. This new feature can be inherited.

-- N --

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.

Naturalized - Plants that will behave like native plants in a given geological region. Bulbs naturalize nicely and lend themselves to a blooming statement.

Nectar - A sugar and water substance secreted by flowers, this will attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds searching for food.

Neem - A botanical insecticide that is nontoxic. It is derived from the Neem tree (azaderachta indica).

Nematode - A microscopic roundworm that lives in the soil. There are both harmful and beneficial nematodes. Harmful ones take their toll on the roots of a plant. The "N" in VFN on plant tags.
Neutral - Neither acid nor alkaline; pH 6.5-7.5.
New Wood - A term often used in reference to propagation. That part of the stems and branches that have grown during the current season. Some plants will propagate better on new wood as opposed to old wood (previous season's growth).

Nitrogen Cycle - The transformation of nitrogen from an atmospheric gas to organic compounds in the soil, then to compounds in plants and eventually the release of nitrogen gas back into the atmosphere.

Nitrogen Fixation - The capture and conversion of atmospheric nitrogen gas into nitrogen compounds, stored in the soil, that can be used by plants.

Node (Joint) - The point on a stem where a leaf or bud is attached.
Node Anchoring (Node Cuttings) - This is when you take a cutting of a stem right below a node. This is a better method of getting success than taking a cut just anywhere on the stem. It is mentioned for the Persian Shield because the success rate for stem cuttings for the Persian Shield is not that great and cutting right below the node gives it a better chance.

Nurseryman - One who is state certified to practice growing techniques of plant material making the proper selection for specific needs.

-- O --

Offset - A young plantlet which appears on a mature plant. An offset can generally be detached and used for propagation.
Open Pollinated - Any plant that has been pollinated in the field. In direct contrast to hybrid varieties that will grow true to variety the plants produced will be true to the parents.

Opposite - Leaf form, where the leaves are arranged in opposite pairs along the stem. Compare alternate.

Organic - A chemical or fertilizer which is obtained from a source which is or has been alive. Also the general term used for a type of gardening using no chemical or synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
Ornamental - A plant, such as the Saucer Magnolia, that is grown strictly for its foliage or flower rather than for food or any other economic use.

Osmunda Fiber - The roots of the fern Osmunda regalis, used for making Orchid Compost.

Over-Potting - Repotting a plant into a pot which is too large to allow successful establishment.
Overseeding - Planting on top of an existing garden or lawn. Rye grass over lawns for winter. Wildflower seed in meadows.

-- P --

Palmate Leaf - Five or more lobes arising from one point , hand-like.
Parasite - Any plant that grows upon another. It steals its moisture and nourishment from its host. Mistletoe is a good example.

Parterre - Symmetry at its best. These are great ornamental garden beds that have been geometrically designed and separated by walkways. The gardens are most appreciated by an above view. One of the most famous of these are the gardens of Versailles.
Partial Shade - Plants that prefer filtered sun or that can only tolerate a few hours (less than 6 hours) of sun. Often, they are not drought tolerant. Used interchangeably with partial sun. Denoted on this site with a
Partial Sun - Plants that prefer 3-6 hours of sun, but can tolerate direct sun or high temperatures. Used interchangeably with partial shade. Denoted on this site with a

Pass-along Plants - Plants that are shared between friends and not easily found in catalogs. Usually some plant from an older garden.

Pea Gravel - Gravel about the size of a pea. Used a lot in driveways and walkways.
Peat (Feat Moss in US) - Partially decomposed sphagnum moss or sedge used in making composts. Valuable for its pronounced air and water holding capacity and its freedom from weeds and disease organisms.
Peat Pot - Compressed peat into a pot that can be used for starting seeds. When planting times comes this entire pot can be put in the ground and the roots will grow through the pot as it decomposes.

Pebble Tray - Grouping potted plants within a shallow, pebble filled tray in order to maintain humidity in an environment with central heating. Water is poured into the pebbles and evaporates up and around the plants.

Pedicel - The stalk of an individual flower.
Peduncle (Inflorescence) - The stalk of an flower head.

Pegging Down - A very effective way to increase flower production on Bonbon & Hybrid Perpetual roses that send up long shoots with oily flowers on the end. It is a time consuming method but well worth the display. This is generally done in the fall. Instead of pruning, spread the runners and fasten to the soil with wire loops. Basically you are training the plant horizontally. 

Pelleted Seeds - Seeds that have been coated with an inert material just to make the handling of the seed easier

Pendant - Hanging.

Perennial - A plant which will live for three years or more under normal conditions.

Perfoliate - Paired leaves which fuse around the stem.
Pergola (Arbor) - A walkway covered with trellis work. Usually climbing plants will cover the hardscape feature.

Perilite - A mineral expanded by heating to form very lightweight, porous white granules useful in container soil mixes to enhance moisture and air retention.
Permaculture - A very advanced system of trying to grow and provide food by using perennial plants instead of the annuals the agriculture world uses now for most of our food.

Petal - One of the divisions of the corolla -- generally the showy part of the flower.

Petiole - A leaf stalk.

pH - A measure of acidity and alkalinity. Below pH 6.5 is acid, above pH 7.5 is alkaline.
Photoperiodism - The response of plants to the length of a day and night (i.e. poinsettias, cactus, night blooming flowers)

Phyllode - A leaf stalk expanded to look like and act like a leaf.

Picotee - Term applied to a narrow band of color on a pale ground at the edge of a petal.

Pinching Out (Stopping) - The removal of the growing point of a stem to induce bushiness or to encourage flowering.  

Pinnate Leaf - A series of leaflets arranged on either side of a central stalk.
Pioneer Plants - The very first species to grow of the soil has had a traumatic occurrence, like a fire, flood, earthquake. The first plants to take over when a farmstead has been abandoned

Pip - Two distinct meanings; the seed of some fruits (such as Orange), and the rootstock of some flowering plants (like Convallaria).

Pistil - The female reproductive parts of the flower.
Plantlet - A small plant off the original plant. A good example is the piggy back plant these will easily root. Used in propagation.

Plant Lice - This is a reference to aphids found in British publications.

Plant Patent Numbers - This generally is a catalog referral phrase. For the general gardener it may not be important but new plants, like inventions, can also be patented. This is a protection for the owner who created the "new" plant.

Plant Window - Double window with plants grown in the space between.
Pleaching - a popular technique of training and pruning shrubs and trees into a wall. Very popular in Europe.

Plug - A small but well-rooted seedling raised in a cellular tray and sold for growing on.

Plunging - The placing of a pot up to its rim outdoors in soil, peat or ashes.
Pocket Garden - A small growing area planted with miniature and dwarf varieties.

Pollen - The yellow dust produced by the anters. It is the male element which fertilized the ovule.

Pollinator - These are the many wonderful creatures that make our world grow. People, bees, moths, butterflies, bats, and any insect that hops from plant to plant.

Potager - Giving credit to the French who inspired this vegetable garden. It is planted in a formal and ornamental style.

Pot-Bound - A plant growing in a pot which is too small to allow proper leaf and stem growth.
Potpourri - A mixture of sweet smelling leaves, petals, blooms to create a perfume in a room. Tussie - massies in the Victorian era were popular nosegay potpourri creations.

Potting On (Potting Up) - The repotting of a plant into a proper-sized larger pot which will allow continued root development.
Prairie Gardening - Specifically creating a garden of plants from the Midwestern states of the U.S. This is most associated with designer Jens Jensen.

Pre-Emergent Weed Killer - A great idea is good gardening. Although not organic, this is using a herbicide to kill the weed seeds to prevent them from germinating.

Pressure Treated Lumber - Lumber that has been treated with chemicals to prevent rotting.

Pricking Out - The moving of seedlings from the tray or pot in which they were sown to other receptacles where they can be spaced out individually.

Propagation - In gardening usage, this refers to the many different ways of starting new plants.

Pruning - A method of cutting off leaves or branches within limits in order to remove dead or diseased foliage or branches. Also used to control or direct growth, increase quality or yield of flowers or fruit and to ensure growth position of main branches to enhance structural strength. (See Bonsai for ornamental reasons as well.)

-- Q --

-- R --

Radicums - These plants are special in that their stems have roots that will cling as they grow vertically or grow over the ground. Ivy is a good example.

Raised Bed - Any ornamental or vegetable bed that has soil higher than the surrounding immediate area. Sometimes it is bordered by boards, stone, brick or any material to hold in the soil. Created to make a supreme growing area.

Reed - Tall grasses that grow in shallow water.

Remontant - Repeat bloomer. Plants that will bloom more than once a year. Tea, olive, daylilies, or bottle bush.

Re-Seeding - Plants that drop their seeds for next season. Wildflowers and weeds are the biggest categories
Resting Period - The time when a plant has naturally stopped growing but when there is little or no leaf fall. Compare dormant period
Retaining Wall - A wall that has been built on a slope to keep the soil from sliding or eroding. It would stabilize the area

Reticulate - Marked with a branched network of veins or fibers.
Revert - Sometimes a particular cultivar might change back to one of its original species. I.e. Variegation going to solid green, some doubles going to single

Rhizome - A thickened stem which grows horizontally below or on the soil surface.
Rock Garden - An area constructed of larger rocks arranged to look natural. Planted with plants that generally do not need a lot of care.

Rockwool - This really is the state of the art rooting medium, and is used in plant propagation. It is alkaline and one will have to compensate for this.

Root Ball - Matted roots plus enclosed soil within a the pot of a container grown plant.
Root-Bound - Often, when plants are left too long in their container, the roots become entangled and begin to grow in circles. There is hope by separating the roots the plants will survive when planted.

Root Crops - Any vegetable that the roots are edible: i.e. carrots, potatoes, turnips.

Root Cutting - The root is used for propagation. Plants that grow away from the mother plant and root, can be dug up and transplanted.

Rooting Hormone - A chemical in powder or liquid form which promotes the formation of roots at the base of a cutting.
Root Prunig - This is done in two instances. One when repotting from one pot to another, roots that have grown in a circle are trimmed to promote future growth. Also, when planting into the garden or landscape, a plant that needs root trimming.

Root Rot - Quite common in plants that are effected by fungus diseases and have poor drainage.

Rootstock - The roots and stems arise from this part of the plant.

Root Zone - The entire area where roots are growing below the plant. Root zones are important for walking paths and future plantings.

Rosarian - Those hobbyists or professionals who specialize in the cultivation of roses.

Rosette - Term applied to a whorl of leaves arising at the base of a plant.
Rotation - Specifically towards crop rotation: changing the plants in the same growing area. This will decrease the soil born diseases.

Rotenone - Material used a lot by organic gardeners. It is derived from the roots of tropical legumes. It does break down in sunlight and the side effect is that it is toxic to good and bad insects.

Row Covers - Several types of semitransparent materials used to cover plants, trapping heat, enhancing growth, and provide protection from frost or winds.

Rugose - Rough and wrinkled.
Run - A plant that runs will be growing rapidly underground. Great for ground cover but some plants take over an area by running.

Runner (Stolon) - A creeping stem which produces small plantlets along its length.

Runoff - When liquids (such as in watering an area of ground or a fast rain) washes off quickly a run off is created. Often pesticides and fertilizers are washed into waterways from lawn and garden runoff.

-- S --

Salt Marsh Hay - probably a better mulch that is collected from the grasses grown in coastal marshes. It generally does not contain weed seeds and is fluffy.

Sap - the fluid in plants. The most commonly known example of this is maple sap which is collected and made into syrup.

Sapling - A very young tree.

Scald - When plants have an overexposure to sunlight a discoloration will develop. Often when plants do not become acclimated slowly into a sunny location from being indoors or from the shade.

Scale - Sucking insects. Usually more prevalent in milder climates. Not to be taken lightly, and need to be treated.

Scape - a leafless flower stem that will grow directly from the base of the stem. Very common in bulbs.

Scarify - to scratch or break the hard coat of some seeds, so they will germinate easily. Fine sandpaper or just soaking the seed will do the trick.

Scientific Name - The internationally recognized Latin name of a plant that will be descriptive of the feature of the plant, or will commemorate a person connected with it. The name of the species will consist of two parts, the genus name and the species name. This system was first started in 1753 by a Swedish botanist, Linnaeus.

Scion - A suitable piece that is a desirable specimen of a woody plant, used in grafting.

Scooping (De-Eyeing) - A technique that is used to produce a shorter and bushier plant by scraping out the center eye of the bulb.

Seedhead - Dried, inedible fruit that contains seeds.
Self-Color - A flower with single colored petals.
Self Pollination - The transfer of pollen from one flower to another flower on the same plant.

Self Seeded (Self Sowing) - A plant's habit of shedding seeds in the immediate area. They will then germinate without outside help. Many annuals use self seeding (i.e. cleome-marigolds).

Semi-Evergreen - Those shrubs that will keep some of their green foliage usually in mild climates.

Sepal - One of the divisions of the calyx.

Serrate - Saw-edged leaf design.

Sessile - A stalkless leaf or flower which is borne directly on the stem.
Set - In reference to shallot bulbs and small onions, as in sets of onions.

Sharp Sand (Builders Sand) - A rough sand; great for drainage, and propagation, not to mention starting of seeds.

Shear - A method of pruning in the landscape; often in reference to hedges.
Sheet Composting - A method of spreading undecomposed organic materials over the soil's surface, then working them into the soil to decompose, rather than piling them and spreading the resulting compost. (see also Green Manure)

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.

Shrub - A woody plant with a framework of branches and little or no central stem. Compare tree.
Side Dress - When one fertilizes above the ground without working it in. Placing the fertilizer on the side of the plant material. Sometime side dressing is used to encourage growth during the season.

Sieve - A garden sieve is a frame with a mesh bottom. Mainly used for separating compost, but sometimes used in very stony gardens. Home made ones made out of two by fours, 2' x 2' with a 1/2 inch hardcloth bottom is most handy.

Single Flower - A flower with a normal amount of petals present, arranged in a single row. Daisies are a good example of this type.

Slip - An older fern once used for a cutting. Slips are taken for propagation.

Slow Release Fertilizer - Generally a natural fertilizer that over a period of time will release its nutrients. Always a good practice to use.

Soaker Hose - Hoses that have hundreds of mini holes to let the water out slowly and can be left on for a long period of time. Great for vegetable gardens and beds that need to be watered frequently.

Soil Amendment - Anything added to the soil to improve the present situation, i.e. drainage, nutrients, or makeup.

Soilless Gardening - Another name for hydroponics. Gardening in something other than soil or water and rocks.

Soilless Mix - This would be any medium for containers. The substances would be like peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, or materials like sand or bark. However, fertilizing is a must since none of these have any real nutrient quality.

Soil Polymers - Super absorbent polymers recently developed that can increase water retention of soils. They can absorb hundreds of time their weight in water and are primarily used in container bound plants.
Solarization - The process by which one can sterilize the soil by the sun. Cultivate the area to be isolated, water well, and then cover with 2-4 mil of clear plastic.

Soluble Fertilizer - A fertilizer that is mixed with water and used not only for root fertilizing but can also be sprayed on the foliage. A common practice for houseplants but gardeners can use the practice in their landscape too.

Sooty Mildew - is a fungus. It looks like a dark gray spots or in general scum on stems and leaves. It is formed from the honey dew excreted that is produced by aphids and other insects. The honeydew that is created is attacked by the mildew and will go after the sugars in the honeydew.
Sooty Mold - Several insect pests will release honey dew, which is a sticky substance that then mold grows on (thus the black coloring). Most associated with aphids. Use a soapy water solution to rinse off the insect pest.

Spadix - A fleshy flower spike in which tiny florets are embedded.

Spathe - A large bract, sometimes highly colored, surrounding or enclosing a spadix. The spathe flower is characteristic of the aroids, such as Anthurium and Spathiphyllum.

Species - Used when naming plants. Designates a specific species of the 'Genus' and is best described as the plant worlds equivalent to our Christian names (or first names). Will follow the Genus name and is usually in Latin. Note: Once a plants full name is used, i.e. Hedera helix, future listings will abbreviate the Genus name and follow it with the species name. An example would be, H. helix, as the next plant in a listing.

Specimen Plant - A plant that is high lighted to show off its special qualities. Sometimes used as a focal point. 

Spent - Bulbs and flowers of a plant that have finished blooming. It's time to deadhead them.

Sphagnum Moss - Various mosses native to bogs are sphagnum. Often used for the lining of hanging baskets and for air layering. Also see Air Layering.
Spices - seeds, fruits, or roots (rhizomes) used to flavor cooking.

Spore - A reproductive cell of nonflowering plants, such as ferns.

Sport - A plant which shows a marked and inheritable change from its parent; a mutation.

Stamen - The male reproductive parts of a flower.

Standard - A plant which does not normally grow as a tree but is trained into a tree-like form.
Stem Cutting - A portion of a stem that only includes one or more nodes taken from a plant. This will not include the apex or the tip. Stem cuttings are a great way to propagate.

Sterilized Soil - A rather misleading term, as steam- or chemically sterilized soil is only partially sterilized. Harmful organisms have been killed but helpful bacteria have been spared.

Stigma - The part of the female organ of the flower which catches the pollen.

Stipule - A small outgrowth at the base of the leaf stalk.

Stock - The "mother plant" of which cuttings are taken. Stock is also in reference to plants being grafted on "stock". Many hybrids are grafted on good stock material because they have better and sturdier qualities for growing.

Stolon (Runner) - A creeping stem which produces small plantlets along its length.

Stone - The inner fruit wall of a drupe. The stone encloses the seed (i.e. plums and cherries).

Streching the Zone - For very ambitious gardeners who want to grow plant material beyond their climate area. Collectors are forever trying to grow that which ordinarily would not.

Stopping (Pinching Out) - The removal of the growing point of a stem to induce bushiness or to encourage flowering.  

Stove Plant - A plant which requires warm greenhouse conditions in winter.

Strain - A selection of a variety, cultivar or species which is raised from seed.

Subtropical - A very specific area, 5 to 10 degrees higher in latitude than the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn.

Succession Planting - When one plants a fast crop one week or so after another. The object is to keep a constant supply on hand, like squash, lettuce, truck farmers often practice this technique.

Succulent - Succulents plants have leaves and/or stems which are thick and fleshy. They often have waxy outer layers that allow the plants to retain water well.

Sucker - A shoot which arises from an underground shoot or root of a plant.
Sun Scorch - Spots on leaves that are caused by exposure to strong sunlight. Often not acclimating plants for the season creates sun spots. Just trim off and let new growth develop. 

Sunken Garden - A landscape design where some of the garden is at a lower point than the rest of the garden. Created for interest.

Staking - Plants that grow tall with little stem support need to be staked. Tomatoes are a prime example of this. Any means of support will work: canes, cages, wire loops, etc.

Swamp - An area of land that usually flooded and contains woody plants - compared to a bog it has drainage. Cypress trees grow well in a swamp.

Systemic (Systemic Insecticide) - A pesticide which goes inside the plant and travels in the sap stream.

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-- T --

Tamping - A method by which one will press that soil around a plant that has just been planted making sure soil is secure and firm around the roots.
Tap Root - A strong root, sometimes swollen, which grows vertically into the soil or compost.

Tender - An indoor plant which requires a minimum temperature of 60o F. Occasional short exposure to temperatures below this level may be tolerated. Compare hardy and half hardy.

Tendril - A thread-like stem or leaf which clings to any nearby support.

Terminal - The uppermost bud or flower on a stem.
Terra Cotta - An Italian term that means "baked earth". These clay pots are unglazed and excellent for growing most plant material. They do dry out quickly and salts will bleed through the porous surfaces.

Terrarium - A partly or entirely closed glass container used to house a collection of indoor plants.

Terrestrial - A plant which grows in the soil.
Teteur - A French word meaning "trainer". Any structure that is in the shape of an obelisk or pointed tower. This trellis will support vines of color.

Thatch - Any material that does not quickly decompose. When a lawn becomes "clogged" with old drying grass cuttings and matted leaves, this is referred to a build up of thatch. Often it does not decompose fast enough for a healthy lawn and needs to be removed, either manually or by a thatching machine.

Thicket - Any area that has a lot of miscellaneous undergrowth, generally of small shrubs, bushes, and vines.

Thimble Pots (Thumb Pots) - Not commonly seen in the United States, but in Britain are interesting miniature clay pots. Thimble pots are 2 x 2 inches and thumb pots are 2.5 x 2.5 inches.

Thinning - Picking out the overpopulated seedlings in any flower or vegetable bed, to make a better growing condition for the rest. Making better spacing and aesthetics for the growing area.

Thrips - This is the singular and plural use of the word. Insects that feed on all parts of the plant: leaves, flowers, buds, and stems. Very popular in the destruction of daylilies.

Thug - Thugs are invasive plants. We enjoy their attractiveness but they will take over a garden. They are growing in the right conditions, but ironically thugs can make a statement when they are perennials in the right garden.

Till - Another definition for cultivating. Plowing the earth and preparing it for planting.

Tip Cutting - A cutting taken from the top end of a shoot.

Tired Soil - A term referring to a piece of land that has been exhausted of its nutrient value. It does not produce like it once used to; when a particular crop has been grown too long in once place. The Southeast U.S. created tired soil from planting cotton for too many years.

Tissue Culture - A very sterile practice of propagating plants from the mother plant. Generally done in laboratory conditions. Orchids, hosta and daylilies are done by this method

Topiary - The art of clipping and training woody plants to form geometric shapes or intricate patterns. Box and Myrtle are suitable types.

Topdress - A process that means to apply on the surface of soil. Usually referring to the spreading of organic material such as ground bark or manure.
Topsoil - Soil that is on the very top, hopefully containing a lot of humus and good elements needed for growth.

Trade Name - An arbitrary name created by a nursery or some other organization to distinguish it from all others; a way of protecting it from misuse legally.

Trailing - Any plant that grows long stems and will grow along the ground and will root as it goes along.
Transpiration - The loss of water through the pores of the leaf.
Treated Seeds - Seeds that have been protected against diseases. They are toxic.

Tree - A woody plant with a distinct central trunk. Compare shrub.
Tropical Plants - A plant that grows in tropic zones. in northern climates they are grown as houseplants.

Trug - A shallow basket for light chores, like carrying flowers and fruits and veggies. Traditionally made out of wood. 

Tuber - A storage organ used for propagation. It may be a fleshy root ( an example being Dahlia) or a swollen underground stem.

-- U --

Umbel - A part of the plant bearing flowers in which all the flower stalks are of similar length and arise from the same point.
Underplanting - Growing short plants such as a ground cover under taller plants. Under taller trees, some shrubs would be used as an underplanting.

Understory - The smaller trees that grow below the major forest.

Under Glass - A term in older books referring to "growing under glass", essentially growing in a greenhouse.

Unisexual - A flower of one sex only (See also Monoecious and Dioecious)

-- V --

Variegated Leaf - A green leaf design which is blotched, edged or spotted with yellow, white or cream color.

Variety - One of possibly many closely-related plant species. The variety name is usually in Latin.
Variety Name - This is the scientific name or botanical name of a specific plant. It is shown in italic print.

Vegetation - An all encompassing word for the plants of an area or territory.

Vermiculite - This is a mineral called mica that is heated and puffed up to form lightweight, sponge-like granules capable of holding both water and air.
Vernalization - The time factor of cold days needed by certain plants to produce a bud. Such as in apples need a certain amount of cold days to create their buds.

Verticillium - A fungus disease that will cause wilting and death. This is the "V" in "VFN".

VFN - Indicates whether or not a plant is resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, or certain nematodes. Many times all three.

Viability - The possibility of germination. Seeds vary in their time of viability from a few days to 20 years, if not hundreds of years. Storage conditions will affect the viability, the best being low temperatures and humidity.

Victory Garden - Homeowners during World War II, who grew gardens to provide for themselves or to support the war effort.

Virus - A plant disease that cannot be eliminated by a chemical means. Some viruses have created stripped tulips. Most are feared by growers.

Volunteer - This is a surprise, "not planted" specimen, blown in from a neighbor's yard, from a bird, or other source.

-- W --

Wardian Case - In the 19th century a plant explorer and collector by the name of Dr. Nathaniel Ward designed a glass case to transport his findings. He traveled between Australia and England. During the Victorian era often Wardian Cases were highlighted in the home. We now have terrariums and bottle gardens.

Warm Season Grass - These grasses are grown in temperatures above 70 and 80 degrees. They will go dormant in winter. Examples are Bermuda grass, a variety of St. Augustine. Other warm season grasses are ornamental such as pampas grass and fountain grasses.

Water Garden - Any man made pool, forms, or container in which aquatic plants are planted. They are becoming especially popular for backyard enjoyment.

Weed - An uninvited and usually unattractive plant that surfaces in gardens. Usually seeds are delivered by winds, but not always.

Wet Feet - A condition when the roots of plants are in standing water. They will eventually rot if they don't normally grow in wet conditions like aquatic plants do.

Wetable Powder - A material that will not dissolve in water, but remains suspended in it. Most often referred to pesticides when used as sprays.

Whip - A very thin shoot with no lateral branches of a woody plant. Sometimes the first year of a grafted tree.
Whorled - Leaf form, where three or more leaves radiate from a single node.

Wide Row Gardening - A method in which vegetables and cutting gardens are laid out usually two to three feet wide instead of a single file row of plants. This is to be efficient in spacing the plants. Many plants grow together.

Wildflower - Plants that can be native or exotic when growing out in a non-cultivated area. They flower and are enjoyed by all. Many wildflowers of course can be cultivated in backyard gardens.

Wilt - A plant disease. This can be caused by bacteria or fungi. Many are carried by insects.

Wind Break - A purposeful planting of hedges and trees to protect a field, home, or garden against forceful winds, providing a shelter and preventing damage.

Window Box - A container placed under a window, very cottage-like in gardening decor.

Winter Kill - A condition that happens when plants have not hardened enough to withstand sever winter conditions. The plants may not be hardy for the zone. Die back needs to be pruned in the spring clean up.

Woodland Garden - This garden is usually established beneath deciduous trees. It may vary from partial to deep shade and usually with plant material where roots need to remain undisturbed.

Woody Plant - These are usually perennial plants (i.e. vines, shrubs, trees, and bamboos) that have permanent stems. These branches get bigger every year.

Worm (Eisenia Foetida) - A very unappreciated part of any good garden. This mover and shaker of the earth is Mother Nature's natural composter.

-- X --

Xeriscape - A patented name that stands for water-conserving landscapes.

Xerophyte - A plant which is able to live under very dry conditions.

-- Y --


-- Z --


If you think we should add some definitions, please contact us with your suggestions.