Glossary Of Common Gardening Terms

Acid soil Soil with a pH of less than 7.0, containing little or no lime.

Aerate To relieve soil compaction and improve underground ventilation by hoeing, forking, or digging.

Alkaline soil Soil with a pH of more than 7.0, containing more than an average amount of lime.

Ameliorant Any material added to the soil which improves its fertility.

Annual A plant which germinates, grows, sets seed and dies within a year.

Bedding Plants set out in beds or borders, mainly for spring or summer effect, which are disposed of at the end of their flowering season.

Bi-colour Flowers or foliage with two main colours.

Biennial A plant which germinates, grows, sets seed and dies within two years.

Blanch To exclude light from leaves and stems to improve colour, texture and flavour. Brassica A member of the cabbage tribe, such as the cauliflower.

Bulb A swollen food storage organ consisting of overlapping scales, such as an onion. Bush A shrub or tree with branches which do not grow to more than 75 cm (30 in.) above soil level.

Catch crop A quick growing crop taken between two main crops.

Compost Partly decomposed vegetable matter for use as a manure substitute. Seed, cutting and potting composts contain mixtures of peat, sand or similar materials, with or without loam, and usually with fertilizer, for use as a growing medium.

Conifers Usually evergreen trees and bearing cones.

Container-plant A plant which has been grown, or is growing, in a container.

Cordons Tree forms, usually fruit, which are restricted to a single main stem.

Corm A swollen stem, resembling a bulb, which acts as a food storage organ.

Crock A piece of broken clay pot or small stone placed in the bottom of pots to maintain free drainage.

Crown The framework of branches in trees and shrubs, or the clump of roots of herbaceous plants.

Curd The edible white flowery head of a cauliflower.

Cutting A piece of stem, root, shoot or leaf which can be used for propagation.

Deadhead The removal of faded or dead blooms.

Deciduous Term applied to plants which shed their leaves, usually in autumn, and follow this by a period of dormancy.

Dibber A piece of wood used to make holes for planting, available in a variety of thicknesses.

Disbud The removal of secondary buds, leaving the main or terminal bud to develop upwards.

Division The splitting up of crowns or root clumps for the purpose of propagation.

Dormant Term applied to plants when active growth has visibly ceased, as with leafless but living bulbs or trees in winter.

Double digging Digging to double the depth of a spade.

Earthing up Drawing soil around the stems of crops, such as celery or leeks, and covering developing potato tubers, for protection.

Evergreen Plants having leaves all year round, such as the conifers.

Fertilizer A substance containing concentrated plant foods essential for growth.

Fl hybrid The result obtained by crossing two related, but dissimilar, plants.

Fruitlet stage Applied to fruit trees and bushes, when the young fruits are swelling.

Fungicide Material used to prevent or destroy fungi.

Germination The first stages of seed growth, when shoots or leaves appear.

Green-bud stage Term applied to fruit trees when the flower buds are green, but unopened.

Grow on The care of plants from pricking out, potting or planting, until they reach maturity.

Hardening off Acclimatizing plants raised under cover to cool or outdoor conditions. Hardy Term applied to plants which can be grown outdoors all year round.

Herbaceous Term applied to plants having non-woody stems, particularly perennial flowering plants.

Herbicide A substance used for killing weeds.

Insecticide A substance used for killing insects.

Intercrop When two crops are grown together — e.g. spring onions with lettuce.

Lateral A side shoot or growth developing from a main stem.

Lime A material containing calcium, usually in the form of ground limestone.

Loam Fertile soil composed of a balanced mixture of sand and clay and decayed organic matter.

Manure Usually a mixture of vegetable and animal waste. Marginal plants Those which grow happily round the edges

of ponds or water,

Mulch A surface dressing of rotted manure, peat or compost, placed around plants.

Naturalize The informal planting of bulbs or other plants, usually in grass, where they can grow and increase naturally.

Neutral Term applied to soils and composts which are neither acid nor alkaline. Node The swollen junction of a leaf and stem.

Offset A bulb or shoot arising at or below soil level from the parent bulb or stem.

Open Condition of soil through which water drains freely and which roots penetrate easily. Also, winter weather without hard frost or heavy rain, suitable for planting.

Organic gardening Methods in which no inorganic fertilizers are used, only organic manures and compost, and the use of herbicides and pesticides is restricted.

Perennial A plant, usually non-woody, which develops over three or more years.

Pink bud The stage when pink petals are just visible on the buds of apple trees.

Plunge The practice of sinking plant pots up to the rim in soil or peat, to prevent them drying out or being blown over.

Pollination The transfer of pollen, from one flower to another or from one part of the plant to another part, to effect fertilization of fruit blossom and setting of seeds.

Pot-bound The condition when the roots of a containerized plant have outgrown the pot.

Pricking out Transferring

seedlings from a seed pan into boxes, pots or beds. Propagation The reproduction of plants.

Pruning The systematic cutting out of unwanted shoots.

Resting periods Phases when active growth ceases — e.g. during winter.

Ring culture Method of greenhouse tomato growing. So called because the containers are bottomless cylinders of compost standing on a layer of some water-holding but sterile medium. Useful where plants cannot be watered frequently.

Rootball A collective mass of roots with soil or compost surrounding them.

Rootstock The root part of a budded or grafted plant.

Runner An above-ground stem connecting a plantlet to the parent plant.

Scarify To aerate turf with a wire rake.

Scions The upper parts of grafted plants when they are of a different variety to the lower part, or rootstock.

Seed bed An area of ground prepared for seed sowing.

Seed leaves The first pair of leaves that seedlings produce after germination.

Selective weedkiller A herbicide which kills certain types of plants (weeds) but leaves others unharmed.

Set A partly developed bulb, such as an onion or shallot, which has been specially treated and used instead of seed for crop production.

Set, applied to fruit trees, means that seeds or fruit have formed successfully.

Shrub A plant with woody main branches which start at or near ground level.

Specimen plant Describes a plant grown for it’s individual beauty.

Spit A spade’s depth, usually 25-30 cm (10-12 in.) deep. Standard Trees and roses with a minimum clear stem of 1 m (3 ft) between soil level and the lowest branches. Stopping The removal of the growing point of a main stem or branch.

Sucker A shoot or growth arising from below or near soil level.

Tender Term applied to plant needing frost protection during the winter months.

Terminal shoots These are leading growths of plants.

Tilth Condition of soil surface. Fine tilth consists of granular, finely divided soil, without large lumps.

Top-dressing A surface application of plant food: fertilizer or compost.

Topsoil Fertile, top layer of soil, varying in depth to 30 cm (12 in.).

Transplanting Lifting plants and replanting them in a new position.

Tuber A swollen or thickened underground stem or root which acts as a food store.

Variegated A term applied to leaves, or sometimes petals, with distinctive markings of two or more colours.

Waterlogged A term applied to soils which are saturated with water so that air, essential for growth, is absent from between soil particles.

Weed A plant, usually of little value, which is growing where it is unwanted.

White bud A stage in pear development when the buds first reveal the white, unopened flowers.

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