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Glossary of Garden Terms

Easy to Understand Resource of Gardening Terms

Click on letter or scroll down for more copy:

A | 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

Acidic
(of soil) With a ph value of less than 7. Plants growing in more acidic soils are less able to absorb nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If you have a soil that is high in acidity an easy way to remedy this is to add organic material or lime. This will bring the ph level up and create a more hospitable environment for your plants.Most perennials grow best in soil with a ph of 6-7.
Alkaline
(of soil)With a ph value of more than 7.Plants grown in more alkaline soil are less able to absorb phosphorus, iron, and manganese.If you have a soil that is highly alkaline an easy way to make the soil more neutral is by adding organic material.Most perennials grow best in soil with a ph around 6-7. Amendments Soil amendments are materials which are worked into the soil to enhance the soil properties. Examples include organic matter such as compost.
Annual
A plant that completes it growth cycle in one season.

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B

Band
The darker colored area of a daylily flower that is positioned just above the watermark on the petals only.
Bare Root
Of plants sold with their roots devoid of soil. Also referred to as Eco-Roots™ an environmental plant. Examples include: daylilies, hostas.Anything shipped in this form needs to be planted immediately.
Basal Leaf
A basal leaf grows from the lowest part of the stem.Basal, refers to the base of the structure.Certain plants, like Scabiosa, retain their basal foliage both in winter and spring.
Biennial
A plant that flowers and dies in the second growing season after germination.
Botanical Name
Standard, universal names that allow you to purchase the plant you want.It is best to shop by botanical name since a common name can apply to more than one plant.
Broad-leaved
Of trees or shrubs with broad, flat leaves rather than needlelike foliage.
Bud
Unexpanded leaf, stem, or flower that will develop at a later time.
Bulb
A modified stem acting as a storage organ.The stems and leaves are not usually recognized as such.

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C

Clay Soil
Soil composed of many very fine particles, sticky when wet but hard when dry; water and air have a hard time moving through the clay soil.This soil requires amendments in order to grow an array of garden plants successfully.
Common Name
Common Names are what most of us grew up on and can vary from region to region. Example: Hemerocallis is the botanical name, where daylilies is the common name. Compost Material that is rich in organic matter, formed by decomposed plant remains. Examples include: manure, garden waste, kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, straw. Although compost is not high in nutrients, it is a valuable soil amendment because it can help improve soil structure.
Container
Gardening Plants grown in containers with soil.
Conifer
Usually evergreen trees and shrubs, that are distinguished from flowering plants.
Crown
The plant crown is where the plant meets the root. Most plants are planted so that the crown is at soil level.Some plant crowns like to be planted higher such as Platycodon, while other plant crowns such as Clematis benefits by being planted a few inches below the soil.
Cultivar
A contraction of "cultivated variety" -a group of cultivated plants that has been selected either from the wild or from gardens and grown in cultivation, and whose characteristics are by some means of controlled propagation (such as cuttings, root cuttings).New cultivar selections are rapidly gaining in popularity because of improvements in such areas as disease resistance, improved habit, color, etc.Cultivars are always designated in single quotes such as Leucanthemum superbum 'Becky'.
Cultivate
Stir the soil surface to eliminate weeds, aerate the soil, and promote water absorption.

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D

Deadheading
The removal of spent flowers or flower heads. Deadheading is accomplished by pruning spent flowers with your hand, small hand held pruner, or knife.Most perennials and annuals will continue to bloom throughout the season if deadheaded.An excellent book, by Tracy Disabato-Aust called 'The Well-Tended Perennial Garden' explains in detail the processing of deadheading by plant. Note:This is a maintenance step that takes time, but your efforts will be rewarded with continuous bloom!
Decidous
Plants that shed their leaves at the end of the growing season.An example of this is Hydrangea. Plants that do not shed their leaves are referred to as evergreen.
Diploid
A plant with two basic sets of chromosones.
Division
A method of increasing plants by dividing them into pieces, each with a root system and one or more shoots.As a general rule, many plants can be divided in the fall or early spring.Hostas for example can be divided throughout its growing cycle, but you can damage their beautiful leaves if divided during the summer.
Dormancy
The state of temporary cessation of growth, especially during the winter.As a general rule, most hardy plants require a dormancy period (rest period).
Drainage
The passage of excess water through soil.

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E

Early Bloom
(Daylilies)Having a bloom time early in the season which is typically late June to early July.
Eco-Root™
A select group of bare root plants. Not all bare root plants lend themselves well to the storing, shipping, and handling process before they arrive to the gardener.Eco-Roots™ are carefully scrutinized for their performance and handling along with the added benefit of cost-saving and environmental friendly.
Evergreen
Plants that retain a substantial portion of their foliage for more than one growing season. Semi-evergreen retain only a small proportion of their leaves for more than one season.
Extended Bloom
A term used to describe a daylily that remains fully open for an extended period of time, usually 16 hours or more.For summer evening gatherings, extended bloom daylilies is a must!
Eye and Eyezone
A darker colored area just above the watermarkon both the petals and sepals.

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F

Family
A category in plant classification, a grouping together of related genera.
Fertilizer
Any of a large number of organize and synthetic materials that are spread on or worked into the soil to increase capacity to support plant growth.
Fibrous
Fibrous root system is usally formed by by thin, moderately branching roots growing from the stem.
Flower
The part of the flower containing the reproductive organs usually surrounded by sepals and petals. Single flower has one row of usually four to six petals. Semidouble, with two or three times the normal number of petals in several rows. Fully double, flowers usually rounded in shape, with densely packed petals and with stamens obscured or absent.
Flower gardening
The practice of gardening with plants.
Flower head
A mass of small flowers or florets that together appear to form a single flower. Full Shade Full shade is defined as fewer than 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. This term is often used interchangeable with part shade.
Full Sun
Full sun is defined as direct exposure to sunlight for more than 6 hours a day.

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G

Garden Plant
Plants that can be cultivated in the garden.Popular garden plants include: perennials, shrubs, trees, and more!
Genera/Genus
A category in a plant classification between family and specie.
Great Garden
Plants A mail order garden plant company where superior garden plants cost less. (www.greatgardenplants.com)
Groundcover
Low growing plants that cover the soil surface and suppress weeds.

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H

Heeling In
Temporary planting until a plant can be placed in its permanent position. Plants can be 'heeled in' by digging a small trench where plants are placed in, covered with soil, and watered in.
Herbaceous
A non-woody plant in which the upper parts die down to the rootstock at the end of the growing season. The roots of the plant are alive and well and new growth will emerge in the spring.
Hybrid
A cross between two different plant varietiesto get the valued attribute of each variety.Many of the new Heucheras are hybrids, which offer improvements in foliage color, performance, flowering,and flowering forms.
Humus
Decayed organic matter, blck and crumbly, that improves soil texture and moisture retention.

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L

Late blooming
(Daylilies)Having a late bloom time, typically in August
Leaf mold
Fibrous, flaky material derived from decomposed leaves, used in potting media and improving soil structure.
Lime
The number of compounds of calcium; the amount of lime in soil determines whether it is alkaline, acidic, or neutral.
Loam
A term used for soil of medium texture, often easily worked, that contains more or less equal parts of sand, silt, and clay, and is usually rich in organic matter.

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M

Mid-season blooming
(Daylilies)Having a mid season bloom, typically in mid-July.
Mulch
A material applied on top of the soil surface to suppress weeds, conserve moisture, and maintain a root temperature.There are organic forms such as bark and peat and inorganic forms such as gravel.

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N

Native
Plants that evolved naturally in North America. More specifically, native plants in a particular area are those that were grown naturally in the area before humans introduced plants from distant places.Native species are adapted to similar soil, moisture, and weather conditions within a region.There are many hybrids from native species that can perform equally as well.
Neutral
(of soil). With a ph of 7, i.e. neither acidic nor alkaline.
Nocturnal
A daylily that opens in late afternoon or evening and remains open through all or part of the next day.

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O

Organic matter
Part of the soil that consists of decayed or dcaying plant and animal matter (humus).

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P

Part Shade/part sun
Part shade and part sun mean the same thing; 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Peat
Derived from highly organic plant matter formed on the surface of waterlogged soils.Moss or sphagnum peat is largely derived from partially decayed sphagnum moss and is used in soil mixes. Perennial Derived from the Latin perennis, meaning enduring, perpetual, the word perennial is both noun and adjective denoting, in horticulture, a plant that persists more than two years, a one year plant being an annula and a two year plant a biennial.Understanding your planting zone will allow you to determine what plants will survive in your area. Plants can be herbaceous,which die back to the ground or woody, (trees and shrubs).
Petals
A daylily blossom typically has six petaloids.The upper three are called petals.
ph
A measure of alkalinity or acidity of soil.Ph is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark, above 7 is alkaline, below 7. Most plants prefer a somewhat neutral ph, anything from 6.2 to 7.0 .
Pinch
Snip back new growth, to keep plants compact and encourage bushiness.

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R

Rebloom
A valuable characteristic in which a plant blooms at its normal period and then, after a period of rest, produces a second set of flowers.
Rhizome
A hortizontal, underground stem
Root
The part of a plant, normally underground, that anchors it and through which water and nutrients are absorbed.

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S

Sandy Soil
Soil with a high percentage of sand, or large soil particles, water travels through sandy soil very easily, so nutrients leach out quickly.
Selection
A plant selected for particular characteristics, this selection is known as a cultivar or hybrid. There are many new selections today that offer improvements in overall performance and appearance.
Semi-Evergreen
Plants that retain a small portion of their leaves for more than one season.
SedumSod
A flat mat with minimal soil consisting of various Sedum groundcovers for quick installation
Sepals
A daylily bossom typically has six petaloids.The bottom three are called sepals.
Shrub
A woody-stemmed plant, usually branched from or near the base.
Soil Mix
A potting medium consisting of a mixture of soil, sand, peat, leaf mold, or other ingredients.Also called potting mix.
Soilless Mix
A potting medium that contains peat, usually perlit or vermiculture, and, sometimes fertilizer, but no soil.
Specie
A category in plant classification, the lowest principal rank below genus.Always indicated in lower case. An example is:Leucanthemum superbum 'Becky', of which superbum is the specie. Specimen plant A striking plant, usually a large perennial, tree, or shrub, which can be seen clearly from a distance.
Succulent
A plant with thick, flesh leaves and or stems adapted to storing water. An example of a succulent would be:Sempervivum or Hens and Chicks.

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T

Taproot
The primary, downward growing root of a plant.
Tetraploid
Tetraploids have 44 chromosomes (four sets) in each cell. Plants as a result, are bigger, stronger, and more resistant to disease
Tissue Culture
The propagation of plants under sterile conditions in specialized laboratories.
Topsoil
The uppermost, normally fertile, layer of soil.
Transplanting
Moving a plant from one position to another.

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U

Underplanting
Low-growing plants planted beneath larger plants.Underplantings reduce the need to replace mulch on a yearly basis.

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V

Variety
A term typically used interchangeably with cultivar.
Variegated
A term describing a plant marked with various colors in an irregular pattern with white and yellow markings but not confined to those colors

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W

Watermark
The area between the throat and the eye/band/halo on a daylily blossom.
Woody
Having bark-covered stems that do not die to the ground at the end of the growing season.

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