Gardening – Glossary



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Acidic soil:When the soil’s pH is below 7,0
Adventitious roots:Roots growing from the plant’s stem, above ground level.
Aeration: Allowing more air into by loosening the soil.
Alkaline soil:When the soil’s pH is above 7,0
Alpine: Plants originating from the Alps. Informally it refers to rock garden plants, dwarf shrubs and conifers.
Alternate: When a leaf arise first on the one side of the stem, and the next leaf on the other side of the stem.
Annual: When the plant’s life cycle start and end in one growing season.
Anther: The stamen’s pollen-bearing part.
Apex: The growing tips of stems and roots.
Aquatic: Plants that use water as growing medium.
Areole: The hairy or spiny, modified side shoots found on cacti.
Asplenium: A genus of ferns.
Auxin: Growth hormones present in plants.
Axil:The angle between the top-side of a leaf and its stem, from which flower buds or growths appear.
Balled roots:When the root ball of shrubs or young trees get wrapped in sacking/plastic sheeting, retaining the soil and preventing drying out of the roots.
Basal cuttings:When a cutting is taken close to where the shoot joins a branch or older shoot.
Bed: Plots of cultivated soil ready for gardening.
Bedding plant:Plants, usually annuals, used for temporary gardens.
Biennial:When the plant’s life cycle needs two growing seasons.
Biennial bearing: Certain fruit trees only carry significant crops in alternate years.
Bigeneric: when you cross two different genera’s, you get a bigeneric hybrid.
Bipinnate: foliage that are made up of various segments, which are also divided into segments.
Blanching: when excluding light by means of inverted pots, paper or earthing plants up, thus improving their flavour.
Bleeding: the loss of sap from plant tissue after a cut or pruning.
Bloom: (a) flower, or (b) fine powdery coating.
Bolting: early running to seed.
Bottom heat: when, usually through electrically heated cables, applying heat from below to encourage root formation.
Bract: leaves that bear a branch of an inflorescence or flower in its axil.
Brassica: this plant genus includes various veggies, like cabbages, cauliflowers, turnips etc.
Break: growing from auxiliary buds. Pinching out encourages breaking.
Broadcast: when spreading fertilizers or seed evenly over areas.
Bromeliad: pineapple-like plants, originating from tropical America.
Bud: a growing point on a shoot from which flowers or foliage may develop.
Budburst: when buds of deciduous plants open in spring.
Budding: propagation by inserting one plant’s bud into the bark of another (the rootstock). If a union occurs, the bud develops the characteristics of its own plant, while the rootstock provides a strong root system.
Bud drop: when due to lack of water or nutrients, the buds of fruit trees drop off before forming fruit.
Bulb: modified shoots of shortened stems, enclosed by leaf-bases or plump, scale-type foliage.
Bulblets: the small offsets attached to a parent bulb.
Cactus: succulents belonging to the Cactaceae.
Calcareous: lime-like or chalk-like.
Calcifuge: when a specific plant rejects conditions of lime and/or chalk.
Calyx: the outermost part consisting of sepals that protects and surrounds other parts during the bud stage.
Cambium: this is found between bark and wood and is the tissue responsible for active growth.
Cane: slim woody stem.
Carpel: part of the ovary, which develops into fruit.
Chlorosis: the yellowing or whitening of leaves where there’s a shortage of chlorophyll.
Cloche: similar structure to a cold/garden frame.
Cold frame: small-scale glasshouse, consisting of a frame and removable glass panels.
Compost: decomposed organic matter.
Complete fertilizer: fertilizers consisting of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Cordate: when leaves, for instance, are heart-shaped.
Corm: dumpy, enlarged underground parts of a stem that stores food in the central tissue.
Corolla: found on the inside of the flower, consisting of fused petals.
Corona: the crown part of flowers such as the daffodil.
Corymb: flat-topped group of flowers.
Cotyledon: the part of a seed that forms the first leaves.
Crocks: broken clay-pot pieces used to improve drainage.
Cross-pollination: when pollen is transferred from one plant to another’s stigma.
Crown: the basal section from where root- and shoot growth happens.
Cultivar: plant varieties that has been cultivated.
Cultivation: general care and maintenance for plant growth.
Curd: the immature flower heads on brocolli- or cauliflower plants.
Cutting: used in propagation. When taking a piece of stem, root or leaf to root and form new plants.
Cycad: primitive palm-resembling plants.
Damping off: a soil fungi disease causing seedlings to rot, wilt and die.
Dead-heading: when faded flowers are manually removed.
Deciduous: when trees or shrubs loose their foliage at the end of growing seasons.
Decumbent: when a section of the stem lie on the soil before growing upwards.
Dentate: when a leaf, for instance, has a coarsely-toothed edge.
Disc: the flower’s center, around which the petalled florets are arranged.
Die-back: when, through drought, disease or water-logging, young shoots and larger branches die.
Digitate: leaves with finger-like leaflets.
Disbudding: when side-buds get removed.
Dioecious: unisexuality where male and female reproductive parts on different plants.
Dissected: when petals of leaves are deeply cut into segments or lobes.
Division: separating bulbs, perennials and other clump-forming plants, thus increasing stock.
Dormant: usually during autumn and winter when no growing occurs.
Double flower: flowers with vast numbers of petals.
Drainage: the passing-speed of water through soil.
Epigeal: rest on the ground.
Epiphyte: non-parasitical plants using other plants for support.
Espalier: shrubs or trees growing flatly against walls or on a trellis, with branches trained horizontally.
Etiolation: plants that, due to insufficient light, grow distortedly with small leaves, long stems and abnormally long internodes.
Evergreen: plants remaining leafy throughout all seasons.
Eye: immature or undeveloped buds.
F1 Hybrid: the first generation of hybrids after crossing two varieties.
Falls: an iris’ outer, pendulous petal segments.
Floret: the individual small flower that form part of large flower clusters.
Foliar fertilizer: fertilizers that can be applied to the plant’s foliage.
Forcing: manipulating flowers, vegetables or fruit to mature before their normal time.
Free-flowering: plants that flower generously.
Fronds: the foliage of palms and/or ferns.
Gall: outward, abnormal growths, seen sometimes on shrubs and trees and caused by bacteria or pest irritation.
Genus: a collection of allied species.
Glabrous: hairless and smooth.
Glasshouse: structures made mainly of a frame and glass, protecting plants from extreme weather.
Grafting: when propagating by inserting one plant’s scion into another plant (rootstock) close to ground level. The scion will grow leaves if the graft takes and eventually grow to produce flowers and fruit.
Growing on: when cultivating a plant in pot or container until it’s strong enough to be planted out into the garden.
Hardening off: the acclimatization of seedlings.
Hardy: hardy plants tolerate and survive frost.
Heel: when pulling a side-shoot away from the main stem an expanded base of old wood or stem pulls off with the side-shoot.
Herbaceous: plants that do not form unyielding woody stems.
Hilum: a scar on the seed’s coat where the seed was attached to the plant.
Hip: a rose bush’s fruit.
Honeydew: secretion left on leaves by insects.
Hoof and horn: organic fertilizer.
Hose-in-hose: flowers, growing in pairs, that seem to grow from the center of the other.
Humus: decomposing animal or vegetable matter in its last stages, when brownish black. Humus consists of a water insoluble part (humin), the fibrous part, and a water soluble part which are split into two fractions by definition, a heavy fraction, water soluble only at alkaline pH above 8, called humic acid (the black tarry substance in the compost heap for the layman) and a light fraction, water soluble at any pH, called fulvic acid (the honey coloured streak you get when you run water through the compost heap - people have started to call it compost tea).
Hybrid: crossing two individual spcies.
Hydroponics: when soil is excluded as a growing medium.
Hypogeal: underground.
Inflorescence: arrangements of flowers on a single stalk.
Laciniate: leaves, for instance, that are cut into slim segments.
Lanceolate: lance-shaped leaves.
Lateral: side-shoots, growing from larger stems.
Leader: those shoots at the end of main branches and stems.
Leggy: when a plant, usually through age or lack of light, has become spindly and drawn.
Lifting: when digging up plants.
Loam: fertile soil with balanced amounts of sand, silt, clay and humus.
Lobed: petals, leaves or bracts that stay united although divided into different areas.
Monoecious: plants that have female- and male flowers.
Meristem: the growing part of a plant where permanent tissues is derived.
Microclimate: when small areas have different climates to the surrounding region due to conditions cause by wind breaks for instance.
Midrib: a leaf’s large central vein.
Monocarpic: when plants die after flowering and seeding. This term is usually used for perennials.
Monotypic: when a genus is represented by one species only.
Mulch: where layers of compost or other organic matter is spread over the soil to retain moisture, suppress weed growth and supply nutrients.
Nematodes: pests, small and worm-like, that feed on roots.
Node: the joint on a stem where-from a leaf grows.
Oblong: when a leaf’s width is a third to it’s length and the sides run parallel.
Organic: compounds resulted from living organisms.
Ovate: broadest at the base and other wise egg-shaped.
Palmette: similar to espalier training. Where trees are grown and trained flatly against walls, for instance, with horizontally grown branches.
Panicle: branched, open clusters of flowers.
Parthenocarpy: when fruit form without fertilization.
Pendant: draping from supports.
Perennial: plants that grow from year to year.
Petiole: a leaf stalk.
pH: alkalinity or acidity of soils.
Photosynthesis: when plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into its own food.
Phototropism: a term used for the theory of plants growing towards light.
Pinching out: when speeding up maturity or keeping plants compact by removing the growing tips off the stem.
Pistil: the female structure in the flower.
Pollination: transferring pollen from male- to female flowers during fertilization.
Pricking out: when seedlings or small-rooted cuttings are first transplanted.
Propagation: increasing plants through vegetative processes or seed.
Propagator: the protective box in which cuttings are planted or seed is sown.
Prostrate: plants that creep or grow along the ground.
Punnet: plastic containers or boxes in which seed is sown.
Raceme: unbranched inflorescence with individual flowers on stalks.
Reflexed: where flower petals curve backwards and downwards.
Rhizome: stems that grow horizontally above or under the ground, also responsible for propagation.
Rootbound. When plants out-grow their containers and their root-balls don’t have enough space left for further growth.
Rose: watering can nozzle.
Rosette: rose-like clusters of leaves in circular and overlapping patterns.
Runner: for instance strawberries. When stems root at the tip and grow new plants on contact with favourable soil.
Scale leaf: non-foliage leaves, often modified, found on rhizomes for instance.
Scion: the piece of stem or bud used for grafting.
Scree: eroded rocky substances from mountain-sides.
Self-fertile: plants who have flowers that can fertilize other flowers of the same plant.
Semi-double: flowers with a couple of petals more than a single flower.
Sepal: usually green, these modified outer leaves protect the flower’s petals and reproductive parts.
Shadehouse: they provide cool, shady conditions.
Side dressing: extra fertilizing directed at the side of the plant.
Species: groups or individuals of closely connected plants within a genus.
Single flower: flowers with 3 - 5 petals.
Sori: ferns’ spore masses.
Spathe: some plants have modified bracts or leaves that surround its flowers.
Spit: a garden fork or spade’s blade depth.
Sporangium: the part the produces spores.
Spore: reproductive bodies that, single- or several celled, detach from the parent body and forms new plants. Like fungi, moss, ferns etc.
Sport: the spontaneous arrival of mutant plants or plant parts.
Sprig: short side-shoots on a main stem.
Spur: compact shoots carrying rosettes of leaves, found often on fruit trees.
Staking: when providing support to plants by means of canes or stakes.
Stamen: a flower’s male reproductive (pollen-bearing) part.
Sterile: (a) treating potting composts to kill the seeds of weed. (b) the inability to create sufficient seeds.
Stigma: a flower’s female part that emits sticky fluids when pollination can occur.
Stolon: runners and/or stems that creeps over the ground surface, forming plants where it roots.
Stomata: pores in the plant’s epidermis.
Stool: clumps of young stems near the ground.
Strike: when root forming starts on a cutting.
Style: the female reproductive part’s connecting section between the ovary and stigma.
Sub-shrub: plants which have herbaceous top growth, but some woody base growth.
Strain: varieties or species that are only propagated through seed.
Succulent: plants with fleshy, thick leaves and/or stems, able to grow and thrive in arid conditions.
Sucker: shoots growing from the roots of a plant.
Symbiosis: when different kinds of organisms mutually benefit each other.
Systemic: insecticides or fungicides that enter through plant leaves, poisoning the leaf and sap.
Tap-root: vertical, long roots with few, if any, side branches.
Tamping down: when firming the soil down after planting.
Tender: those plants sensitive to frost.
Tendril: a means of support for plants through twisting, slender projections.
Terrestrial: growing in the soil.
Thatch: layers of old, non-decomposed grass clippings and roots at the soil surface of lawns.
Thinning: removing extra seedlings to create more space for remaining ones.
Tilth: achieved after raking and cultivation. A fine and crumbly soil surface.
Top dressing: when compost or topsoil is applied to fill holes or improve the soil.
Topsoil: upper, fertile layers of soil.
Transpiration: evaporation of water by plants.
Transplanting: when planting young plants out into the garden from their initial pots or seed beds.
Trench: deeply dug strips of soil.
Trifoliate: leaves divided into three leaflets.
Truss: fruit- or flower clusters.
Tuber: fleshy, thick roots or underground stems that store and provide nutrients.
Tunic: the papery covering around some bulbs and corms.
Umbel: when individual flower stalks rise from the same point.
Undulate: wavy or twisted petal, sepal or leaf margins.
Unisexual: flowers of one sex.
Variegated: leaves and sometimes flowers of two or more colours.
Vegetative propagation: propagation methods excluding seed.
Vermiculite: a soil-improving mineral, also used for root cuttings.
Water shoot: strong shoots on mature branches.
Weeping: drooping growing habits.
Whorl: when leaves or flowers are circularly arranged, arising from the same single point.
Windbreak: any structure that lessens the force of wind, for instance hedges, walls etc.
With-holding period: the time between applying the chemical and its breakdown of residues.

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