Gardening Terms

Gardening Terms

To become familiar with gardening terms, it is a good idea to speak to other gardeners who have similar interests. It’s always a good idea to visit your local library and check out a book on gardening in your area. In many libraries, there are gardening books that have pictures and illustrations to help you understand the differences between various plants and herbs. Some libraries also have web pages that have short articles that explain the different gardening terms commonly used.

A popular term that most people have heard but don’t know is Soil.’ Soil refers to the bed or surface on which plants are growing. Soil is usually moist and, depending upon the type of plant, can be a dark green, sandy or brownish color. Different plants will grow in different kinds of Soil, so be sure to read up on the specific gardening terms related to the type of plant you’re growing.

Another common term is the word ‘crop rotation.’ When a garden is in bloom, it’s called a crop or a season. The plants are harvested and replanted every two to three years during a crop rotation. Most experts recommend having a half crop every three years. Some of the more common crops planted in a crop rotation are alfalfa, clover, alpaca, bell pepper, cabbage, lettuce, peas, rosehip, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

Another gardening term you might encounter is the word ‘phosphorus-potassium’ combination. Phosphorus is one of the building blocks of Soil. Potassium is what makes the Soil acidic. Experts recommend dividing your garden into six parts and planting tomatoes in each section, with one group of plants having a higher ph.—level than the rest. Tomato plants grown together will often do better than those planted separately.

If you’re wondering about dealing with diseases, you need to know another gardening term is ‘soil testing.’ It involves testing the quality of your Soil to identify whether it needs to enrich with organic matter or if it’s ready to revert to its salt-water levels. This process will also help determine whether your flowers will survive. Most flower nurseries offer soil testing services to their clients.

One gardening term that’s important to know not only for its practical value but also for its aesthetic value is ‘soil plugs.’ Soil plugs are simply remnants of Soil that appear on the tops of your plants’ stems or roots. The purpose is to provide a hiding place for roots, so they don’t get damaged from wind or water damage. You need to gently remove a few leaves of each plant and place them into a sizeable baggy sack. Remove as much of the Soil as possible, but leave the remaining leaves on top. Put the bags in the back of your car to catch runoff from rain and snow.


Methods for loosening Soil or compost so that air can circulate through it.


Varieties complete their life cycle in one year or less, necessitating annual sowing. Annual flower varieties frequently bloom profusely and for an extended period.


Flowers and vegetables complete their life cycle in two years, showing just leaf growth the first year and flowers the second.


Inedible crops, premature flowering often renders the plant unpalatable.

Burpless Cucumbers:

In some people, cucumbers with little or no cucurbitacin, which causes minor indigestion, have a slightly bitter flavor and are mainly concentrated in the skin.

Cold Climates:

Generally, USDA zones nine and cooler are considered cold climates by Botanical Interests.


The organic matter made up of decomposed/broken-down plant material is called organic matter.

Cover Crop:

Plant plants that grow fast are usually grains, legumes, or grasses, which are primarily grown for one or more of their soil-enhancing properties.


An area of Soil, compost, or liquid has a pH between 0 and 7.0 (on a scale of 0.0-14.0). Gardeners commonly refer to it as “sour” Soil.


Oxygen-dependent organisms only exist or occur in conditions of high oxygen content.


The pH range of Soil is between 7.0 and 14 (on a scale of 0.0-14.0). Gardeners often refer to this type of Soil as “sweet.”.


Organisms that live or occur in an oxygen-free environment are considered non-toxic organisms.

Beneficial Insect: 

It is beneficial for your garden when insects eat and lay their eggs in other insects, reducing their population.


The ability to decompose or break down naturally through bacterial action or fungal action. Organic substances can deteriorate.

Biological Pest Control: 

Living organisms used in garden pest control are beneficial insects or parasites.

Bolt or Bolting:

Inedible crops, premature flowering leads to unpalatable plants due to the texture and flavor of the flowers.

Bone Meal: 

A finely ground fertilizer consists of white or light gray bone that adds phosphorus to the Soil.

Burpless Cucumbers:

Some cucumbers do not produce very little of a chemical called cucurbitacin, making a slightly bitter flavor concentrated in the skin and potentially indigestion-causing for some people.

Calcite Limestone: 

Traditionally, lime has been used to treat Soil with excessive acidity, in which acid can only be reduced by liming.

Cold Climate:

Generally, USDA zones nine and lower are considered cold climates; according to Botanical Interests, they are areas that regularly experience freezing temperatures.

Cold Frame: 

The wood is usually covered with glass or plastic in an unheated structure, and the wood itself is not heated. A cold frame is a container used to protect plants from frost, and it helps extend the season.


It means that the leaves turn yellow or blanch due to a deficiency in chlorophyll, nutritional deficiencies, or diseases.

Clay Soil:

This is because Soil typically consists of many small plate-like particles that can compact over time to form a hard, solid mass that is hard to handle, makes digging holes more complex, and can still result in poor drainage.


The use of roots or stem structures to hold onto fences or other structures by climbing them. Vines are climbers.

Clump Forming:

Clump-forming plants form dense clumps of foliage, often spreading to form other clumps nearby.

Companion Planting: 

Plants are propagated in a garden to help each other grow rather than compete with each other or compete against each other.

Cool-Season Grass :

In the spring, right before the temperatures start to exceed 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and again in the fall, when the temperatures begin to cool down, these grasses put on most of their growth.


Completely organic and odorless and is a valuable source of nutrients. To provide soil nutrients and introduce soil biology to an area, compost can be either used to replenish soil nutrients or reduce landfill waste.

Controlled Release Fertilizer:

They are also called Time Release Fertilizers. Fertilizer comes in pellets and is an improved version of Slow Release Fertilizer.  In the case of Fertilizers, they are released based on the soil temperature itself (as opposed to microbial action) and tend to be more precise than Slow Release Fertilizers.

Cover Crop: 

The use of plants that grow fast, usually grains, legumes, or grasses, is primarily related to their ability to enhance the Soil.


A species that has been selectively bred or developed by humans to have a particular attribute.

Damping Off: 

In the aftermath of the fungal attack, young seedlings at ground level have begun to decay. Over-watering and soil-borne diseases are often to blame for this problem.


To promote re-bloom, prolong bloom for several weeks, or prevent seeds from germinating, spent flowers or flowerheads are removed for aesthetic reasons.

Deep Shade:

The plant must be exposed to less than two hours of dappled sunlight every day to survive.


During the fall and winter, trees or shrubs lose their leaves and are bare.

Frost Tolerant Crops:

Plants which are tolerant of some fantastic weather as well as frost, though the degree of tolerance varies from crop to crop and even from variety to variety.

Frost Sensitive Crops:

Several crops are not frosted tolerant and will die if they are exposed to freezing weather conditions.


As seeds germinate, sprouting, budding, and sprouting occur above the soil line, forming plant growth.


Genetically Modified Organism is an abbreviation for Genetically Modified Organism.


You can harvest young, leafy vegetables or herbs by picking them just above the soil line when the plants have their first set of leaves, called cotyledons, as well as possible being just about to develop their true leaves.

Open Pollinated:

There are some varieties of plants that produce seeds that are “true”, meaning that they grow into plants that are nearly identical to the plant they were harvested from (if they are not crossed pollinated). As long as a plant variety of Botanical Interest is not identified as a hybrid, it is open pollinated. 

Organic Gardening: 

Plants or seeds will undergo this process whenever they vegetate into young, leafy plants. It is a process of a source breaking its dormancy or a pollen grain sprouting from a stigma deposited on a seed.

Tender Perennial:

It is a perennial that is not cold-hardy in all zones. In Botanical Interests, perennial plants hardy only in USDA zones seven and higher are called tender perennials.

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Temperatures are at the lowest point in the year in specific geographical areas in the United States.

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