Basic Gardening Terms
Annual – A plant that germinates, grows, flowers, produces seeds in one growing season.
Bare Root – refers to deciduous shrubs and trees, and some other perennials, with all the soil removed from their roots.
Biennial – Plants that lives only two years and die are called biennials. Plants usually grow leaves the first year and flower the second.
Bottom Heat is the undersurface heat provided in the soil by electric cables or hot water pipes.
Botanical Name is the Latin scientific name of a plant is its botanical name.
Damping Off – Decay of young seedlings at ground level following fungal attack. Often the result of soil borne diseases and over watering.
Division – A method of propagating plants by separating each one into two or more sections and then replanting.
Flat – A shallow box or tray used to start cuttings or seedlings.
Germination – The first stage in the development of a plant from seed.
Grafting – The process of joining a stem or bud of one plant on to the stem of another.
Hardening Off – Gradual acclimatization to colder conditions. Usually used when talking about transplanting of greenhouse plants or seedlings. Can be as simple as moving outside into a protected area for a short time, to more involved methods.
Heirloom are open-pollinated plants that must have a history of their own and have been grown for at least 50 years. For many reasons, including flavor, vigor and local hardiness, these have become favorites.
Hybrid are engineered by humans to exhibit special qualities. Hybrid seed will not be true therefore it may not be suitable for seed saving.
Leggy – Abnormally tall and spindly growth.
Open-Pollinated – Refers to seeds produced from plants which are allowed to pollinate primarily through insects, wind and water. Open-pollinated varieties of the same species often need to be isolated from each other to prevent cross-pollination if seeds are to be saved. Open-pollinated plants, managed carefully, will produce offspring with reliable characteristics, allowing seeds to be saved and grown out year after year, generation after generation.
Perennial – A plant that dies down to the ground during winter and survives to grow again each spring.
Plug – A small but well-rooted seedling raised in a cellular tray.
Propagation – Method of increasing the number of plants by dividing roots, layering or start from cuttings.
Rhizome – An underground stem, capable of storing food, and from which roots and stems of new plants can emerge.
Rooting Hormone – A chemical in powder or liquid form which promotes the formation of roots at the base of a cutting.
Seedling – A young plant grown from seed; also a “start.”
Seed Pods – The hardened protective shell that contains the maturing seeds of a plant.
Sucker – A shoot which arises from an underground shoot or root of a plant.
Thinning – Removal of seedlings to encourage better size and quality in the remainder.
Tuber are short, underground stem tissue with growing points, buds or “eyes” as in a potato. Tubers can be flat, rounded or irregular in shape.
Transplant – A seedling that grows its first “true leaves,” which resemble the adult plant leaves rather than the “seed leaves” that first appear.
True Leaves – The first hardy leaves, usually the second pair, on a new plant.
Variety – One of possibly many closely-related plant species. The variety name is usually in Latin.
Zone – Regions that share similar climatic and rainfall conditions producing similar growing seasons.