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Gardening Glossary of Terms
The process of loosening soil by digging or other mechanical means to allow air to pass freely.
The process by which environmental factors: light, heat and moisture are artificially controlled in order to get the plant used to new conditions. This could typically be used for planting out non hardy plants in late Spring.
Rooting a stem that cannot be pulled to the ground by packing compost or moss around the wounded part of the stem. When roots form the stem is detached and planted.
The part of the flower which produces pollen. It is the upper section of the stamen.
A place where a large, extensive collection of woody plants are cultivated for scientific, educational, and ornamental purposes.
This refers to decidious shrubs and trees, and some other perennials, with the soil removed from their roots. Generally available only in winter, these plants must be planted soon after purchase as they soon dry out and die.
A strong shoot that is cut in spring just above ground level from border plants.
Plants, usually greenhouse rown which are generally suitable for massing together in block planting to get a massive colour splash. They are often half-hardy and usually annual plants. In Victorian times, this was very popular in parks and gardens.
Refers to a plant that contains male and female parts within the same flower.
Planting of single species of plants in large swathes for effect.
The art of dwarfing trees by careful root and stem pruning coupled with root restriction.
A modified leaf, often highly colored and sometimes mistaken for a petal. Bright red poinsettia 'leaves' are actually bracts.
To scatter seeds, salad crops or lawn seed evenly over the soil surface. After this, the soil is lightly raked or covered with a shallow layer of sieved soil.
A quickly maturing crop grown in the interval between harvesting one main crop and sowing or planting another.
A modified stem which has taken on the form of a leaf.
A glass or plastic covering, originally bell-shaped to be fitted over garden plants to prevent frost damage and promote early growth.
A frame which has glass or translucent plastic panes and is unheated. They have hinged lids in order to provide ventilation and sometimes are attached to greenhouses. They can be used in a similar way to greenhouses protecting plants fro wind and rain damage. Cold frames are used for propagation, hardening off, and winter protection of plants.
This is either garden compost which is made from rotted down waste materials in a compost bin or heap or it can refer to special soil or peat mixtures used for sowing and potting plants.
Pieces of broken pot or stones placed at the bottom of pots before putting in the soil to aid drainage.
The part of an herbaceous perennial that is just at soil level, from which roots and shoots grow.
This indicates in a plant name that the variety named, originated in cultivation and not the wild. This portion of a plants name is usually not in Latin.
Wetting down of greenhouse floors and staging in order to increase humidity, especially when the weather is hot and dry. This helps prevent pests, such as red spider mite, and diseases like powdery mildew, which need a dry atmosphere to thrive.
Removing old and dying back flowers to encourage the new buds and therefore prolonging the flowering/fruiting season.
These are plants that loose their leaves at the end of the growing season as opposed to evergreen plants which keep their leaves. Oak, sycamore and acers are examples of deciduous trees.
A pointed stick used for making holes in soil in order to transplant seedlings.
A method of propagating plants by separating each one into two or more sections, generally with a fork then re planting. This can make the plant more vigorous in growth.
The phase when a plants growth slows or stops completely in the non growing period (usually autumn and winter).
A method of preparing the soil by digging a trench then putting the soil from the second row into the first row and and continuing with the soil from the third into the second and so on.
The term used for plants or seedlings that have grown long, thin (leggy) and weak as result of overcrowding or insufficient light.
The mounding up of earth around plants to protect them from frost, sun or disease, or sometimes to blanch their stems in the case of leeks or in the example of potatoes to stop them going green and preventing them from getting infections.
This refers to plants which like acid soil. These plants are also known as calcifuge plants.
Any lime or chalk in the soil will often turn the leaves of ericaceous plants yellow and they may possibly die. Ericaceous plants are best grown in peaty, lime-free soils. Examples of Ericaceous plants are Camellia, Calluna vulgaris (heather), Pieris, Rhododendron and Vaccinium.
Process of training a tree or shrub so its branches grow in a flat plane rather than left to grow in three dimensions.
A plant which keeps it's leaves all year round.
A first generation offspring of two purebred strains. An Fl hybrid is generally more vigorous than an ordinary hybrid.
A soft fibrous, spun plastic material used to stop cold temperatures from damaging plants which are tender. It allows light, rain and air to pass through but also can be used to protect plants from aphids, root flies, pigeons and butterflies.
The use of heat and/or light to induce abnormally early growth, flowering or fruiting in plants. Commercially, this is carried out on a large scale on specially designed buildings or greenhouses, but on a private scale by use of forcing pots. Rhubarb, chicory and hyacinths are commonly forced.
A low lying area where air which is freezing collects and due to the geography or localised climate of the area, cannot escape. The barriers to stop the air escaping could be physical in nature i.e. the lie of the land or perhaps manmade objects like evergreen hedges or fences.
A chemical used to control diseases caused by fungi.
The process of growth emerging from a resting stage. In the garden, this is generally applied to seeds sprouting, but it also applies to the growth of a hypha from a fungal spore.
The process of joining a stem or bud of one plant on to the stem of another. When this union works, the plant acts like a single plant. Often used on fruit trees where ornamental varieties are 'grafted' to strong root stock.
The term used to describe a style of planting, natural or man made where the species are low growing and spread out covering the soil surface. The term can also be used for a species of plant which by nature grows in this way.
These are plants which die if exposed to the expreme cold weather. They should be sown indoors in spring and planted out only after fear of the last frost. They will die after the first frost in autumn. Examples of Half-Hardy annuals include: Tagetes erecta (African marigold), Impatiens (Busy Lizzie) and Petunia.
The process of acclimatising plants to outdoor temperatures so they can survive outside without being damaged by frost or cold. If the plants are not hardened off and planted outside, they are likely to die due to sudden exposure to low temperatures. Hardening off can be done by placing the plants in a sheltered place (greenhouse or cold frame) for a few hours each day. Each day lengthening the time outside over a 7/14 day period.
This is a measure of the plant's ability to withstand low temperatures. This is not definitive in these terms as the plant can be affected by localised conditions of shelter, drainage and frost pockets.
These are plants which can withstand a certain amount of cold weather. They can be sown directly outdoors in spring (March or April). Examples of Hardy-Annuals are Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium), Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet pea), Convolvulus tricolor (Morning glory).
The temporary insertion of plants in the soil, usually prior to the plants being planted in it's permanent position. This is done to prevent the plants condition deteriorating due to drying out.
A plant which has leaves and stems that die at the end of the growing season to soil level. Can also be known as 'Perennial'
The amount of water vapour in the air. It is measued on a scale of relative humidity (RH) 0% (totally dry air) to 100% (saturated air), at any given temperature. Plants generally grow within the range of 56-80% RH. If relatively humidity is below 65%, growth is progressively and adversely affected. Above 80%, there are increasing problems with fungal and bacterial diseases, and above 90%, transpiration is restricted, which affects the movement of some nutrients, particularly calcium, within the plant, and may result in deficiency symptoms.
Exceptions are xerophytes and hygrophytes, i.e. plants that thrive in exceptionally dry or exceptionally moist conditions. Where necessary, humidity can be reduced by ventilation and heat, or by using dehumidifiers. Humidity can be increased by damping down the greenhouse floor, as well as by the use of overhead irrigation, misting, and fogging systems.
This is the creation of a plant through crossing two differing species or genera. It is often the case that hybid plants do not produce seed themselves and when they do, the result loooks like one of the plants which it was crossed to make it. Latin plant names will denote the fact that the plant is a hybrid or cross, by placing an 'x' after the plant which has been crossed i.e. Mahonia x media.
The science of growing plants in mineral solutions or liquid, instead of in soil.
A fast-growing crop sown between plants which are slower to mature and make the best use of the space available. It is a way of raising seedlings which can be transplanted also to make best use of space.
Some plants are best transplanted whilst they still have leaves. It is often used when transplating bulbs as they do not like drying out. Examples of plants which respond well to this method of transplantation are Galanthus (snowdrops) (Galanthus), Eranthis (winter aconites), Anemone nemorosa (wood anemones) and hardy cyclamen.
The portion of stem between two nodes.
John Innes Compost
John Innes Seed Compost (low nutrient level suitable for sowing seeds and rooting cuttings). John Innes Potting Compost (balanced nutrients to feed plants over an extended period). The numbers 1, 2 and 3 applied to the potting compost indicate increasing levels of fertilizers to suit more mature plants.
Symbol for Potassium
Taking a plant out of it's pot to check how the roots are growing.
Loss of nutrients caused by the draining of water through the soil.
Humus or compost consisting of decomposed leaves and other organic material.
A rich soil composed of clay, sand, and organic matter.
The major elements essential for plant growth. The major plant macronutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K).
Mineral elements which are needed by plants in small quantities.
Any loose material placed over the soil. This is done for both decorative purposes and to aid water retention, stop weeds growing, keeps temperatures more stable, improves soil fertility and structure and can reduce damage from pests and diseases. Mulches can include a wide variety of organic material from chipped bark, leaves, straw, sawdust and cocoa shells to decorative inorganic material like glass, marbles, shredded rubber or stones.
The growing of plants and bulbs in a simulated natural environment in the garden, usually in grass. Used often with bulb planting, for example, Narcissus (Daffodil).
A joint from which a leaf or side shoot grows from a stem.
A measure of acidity and alkalinity. Below pH 6.5 is acid, above pH 7.5 is alkaline. Neutral is defined as between the two.
The duration of an organism's daily exposure to light, considered especially with regard to the effect of the exposure on growth and development
Photosynthesis is the process which plants employ to create food for themselves. It starts with light falling on leaves. It creates glucose and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water.
This is the removal of the growing tips in young plants in order to stimulate other shoots on the plant to enable it produce bushier growth and stimulate more flowers to bud.
A small but well-rooted seedling raised in a plastic tray. These are generally sold on for growing on.
A plant which has outgrown the pot it is living in and effectively stopping correct growth of stem, leaves, flowers and/ or fruit.
This is the process of moving a potted plant from it's current pot to a larger pot to give it more root space.
This is the process of transplanting a seedling or plant to a pot or similar container.
This is the process of separating and transferring recently emerged_seedlings from where they were sown to larger pots, trays or an outdoor bed.
Do this as soon as they are large enough to handle, but take care as they are very fragile. Transfer the seedlings singly to small pots or about 5cm (2in) apart in a seed tray or bed. The lowest leaves should be just above the surface. Firm in gently and lightly water with a fine spray.
A swollen underground stem that is able to continue extending, unlike a tuber. Rhizomes are used as storage organs by dormant plants.
Plant disease caused by a fungus and characterised by a red or yellow circular lesion.
This describes the process of leaves turning brown and dry in hot weather, bright sunlight or with cold wind or chemical spray damage. Excessive amounts of fertilizers may also have the same affect however.
A plant which generally will keep it's leaves throughout the year but can loose some or all of it's leaves during a change in temperature. It may also refer to a plant that in it's natural habitat would be a deciduous plant and loose it's leaves seaonally but due to it being in more favourable conditions, keeps it's leaves all year round.
In gardening, set has a couple of meanings, firstly it is used to describe flowers that have been fertilised and are starting to develop fruit or seed. The term is also currently used for potato and other tubers, and small onion or shallot bulbs, grown for planting rather than eating.
Cultivating the soil to the depth of 1 spade. It is the basic method of preparing the soil to improve it's texture, and incorporate organic matter.
Any star plant which is planted on it's own in a prominent position where it can grow fully and take centre stage in that area of the garden.
This is genus of between 150-350 species of mosses which are commonly called peat moss, due to being found in peat bogs. Species can hold large amounts of water: some species up to 20 times their dry weight. It is sold as a soil addition for this reason but can acidify it's surroundings. It also can take hundreds of years to regenerate so it's not particularly environmentally friendly.
Part of a plant (normally a woody plant, but sometimes in herbs as well) that shows morphological differences from the rest of the plant. They may have different foliage, colour, shape, flowers or structure. If the differences are preferable, the resulting plant maybe used for cultivation to form new cultivars, although they are prone to revert to their original state.
This is the layer below the top soil which is usually less fertile and of poorer texture.
A shoot that grows from plant roots or underground stems. In the case of grafted plants, the shoot may be of the variety of the rootstock rather than the plant grafted to it. Suckers often occur on plums and roses.
A thread-like stem or leaf which is used by the plant to cling to any support which is near: trellis or other plants branches etc.
A partly or entirely closed glass container used to house a collection of indoor plants.
The process of removing seedlings and plants from rows or crowded beds in order to leave the remained to grow stronger and have a better chance of surviving. It is recommended that this process is done twice (half and half) to ensure that if there are a few plants that die, then there will still be enough to have a full bed.
This refers to the structure of the soil which is created by cultivation of plants and improvements. A 'fine' tilth is free of large stones and lumps of soil and would be ideal for sowing seed.
Applications (generally of fertilizer) which is spread on the surface of the soil and not dug in.
Part of the natural process of photosynthisis where vegetation loses water through their leaves into the atmosphere. Plants will wilt if the rate of transpiration is greater than the amount of water taken up by it's roots.
A wooden basket with wide slats and a wooden rim used in the garden to collect flowers.
A compact cluster of flowers or fruits, arising from one position on a stem. Examples of plants with trusses are tomatoes, rhododendrons and auriculas.
These are short, fat underground stem tissue with growing points, buds or "eyes" as in a potato. They can be flat, rounded or irregular in shape.
Any expanse of grass but includes roots and layer of soil. Sold in rolls, it is quick but can be quite expensive. Seeding an area would take longer but be cheaper.
A mineral called mica which is heated and puffed up to form lightweight, sponge-like granules capable of holding both water and air. It is mixed with soil to aid water retention.
Any undesired, uncultivated plant that grows where it is not wanted.
Young, unbranched tree around a year old.
A chemical control applied generally to dormant fruit trees during winter months in order to kill insects, larvae, eggs and lichen.
A stem which has become tough and fiberous.
These are coils of fine, digested soil left on the surface of the ground by worms. If these appear on lawns, it is best to scatter them with a broom rather than treat the lawn as the worms earth-moving activities aid soil drainage and aeration.
This is a plant which is bilaterally symmetrical. Examples would be Salvia or Penstemon.