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gardening Glossary

 

Acid soil - Soil with a pH below 7

 

Aeration - Puncturing the soil to allow better water and air circulation

 

Air layering - A propagation method used for plants that have grown too tall

 

Alpine - Plants that grow naturally above the tree line in mountainous regions

 

Annual - A plant that completes its life cycle and dies in one season

 

Biennial - A plant that completes its life cycle over two seasons

 

Blanching - Keeping light from tender vegetable stems

 

Bog plant - A species that has evolved to live in damp soil

 

Bone meal - A slow release phosphorous rich natural fertilizer

 

Bonsai - The Japanese method of training dwarf plants in containers

 

Botanical name - The scientific name for a plant; plants may have several common names

 

Bud - The swelling as a plant starts new flower or leaf growth

 

Bulb - An underground stem, that stores nutrients and produces stems, leaves and flowers

 

Bulblet - A small bulb developing at the base of a mature one

 

Cactus - A succulent plant with swollen, fleshy stems, and needles

 

Compost - A soft, rich, dark substance produced by decomposing organic matter

 

Corm - Thick underground stems, covered by protective leaves, that flower and die in one season

 

Cormel - Small corm developing on the surface of corms

 

Deadheading - Removing spent flowers to encourage re-blooming

 

Deciduous - Plants that lose their leaves at the end of the growing season

 

Division - The process of dividing clump forming plants into separate smaller plants

 

Dormancy - The annual period when plant's growth slows greatly, usually the winter

 

Dwarf - A miniature form of a particular plant

 

Evergreen - A plant that retains its foliage all year long

 

Fertilizer - A compound that provides plants with nutrients

 

Foliage - A term describing plant leaves

 

Force - To encourage a plant to come into stem, leaf and flower production out of season

 

Furrow - A shallow trench in which seeds or seedlings are planted

 

Germination - The process of seeds turning into young plants

 

Grafting - The process of artificially uniting a stem with a stock plant

 

Ground cover - Low growing, spreading plants that cover large areas

 

Hardening off - Adapting a plant slowly to colder conditions

 

Hardiness - A plant's ability to survive in harsh conditions

 

Herb - Plants with culinary or medicinal uses

 

Herbicide - A chemical used to kill unwanted plants

 

Humus - Organic matter resulting from composting

 

Hybrid - A plant variety resulting from the combination of two different plant species, varieties, or cultivars

 

Insecticide - A chemical used to kill insects that are considered pests

 

Leader - The plant's main stem

 

Loam - Soil rich in organic material, ideal for growing

 

Microclimate - The climate of a small area. Yards may contain several microclimates that may support the needs of different plants

 

Mulch - A layer of organic material placed on the soil to retain moisture, suppress weed growth and insulate plant roots

 

Naturalizing - The process of planting bulbous plants where they are scattered to create a natural look

 

Nitrogen - The element present in fertilizer that promotes leaf growth

 

Organic gardening - Gardening without the use of pesticides

 

Organic material - Decomposed plant matter used in mulches and composts

 

Perennial - A non-woody plant that lives longer than two years

 

Phosphorous - The element of fertilizer that promotes root growth

 

Pollination - The transfer of pollen between plants, which enables flower and fruit production

 

Potassium - The element of fertilizer that promotes cell strength and plant hardiness

 

Potting soil - A mix of soil or other products used for plants grown in containers

 

Propagation - Starting new plants

 

Pruning - The removal or shortening of branches from plants

 

Rhizome - A thickened stem that grows horizontally along the soil's surface

 

Root - The underground part of the plant that supplies nutrients and water to the plant from the surrounding soil

 

Root ball - The roots along with the soil that clings to them

 

Rooting hormone - A liquid or powder that contains hormones which stimulate root formation in cuttings

 

Seedling - A young plant that has been raised from a seed

 

Shrub - A plant with many woody stems

 

Sow - The act of planting seeds

 

Species - Plant groupings that have the same general characteristics

 

Spike - Tall flower head

 

Stem - The main above ground part of the plant that develops buds and shoots

 

Succulent - A plant with fleshy leaves and stems that can adapt to survive drought conditions

 

Sucker - Growth coming directly from a plant's roots

 

Systemic - A chemical pesticide, fungicide or weed killer that is absorbed into a plant's system

 

Terrarium - An enclosed glass case for growing humidity-loving plants

 

Thinning - Removing excess seedlings so that the remaining plants have room to reach maturity

 

Topsoil - The uppermost layer of most fertile soil

 

Transplanting - Moving a plant from one spot in the garden to another, also refers to moving container plants into larger containers

 

Tuber - A thickened underground stem or root that stores plant nutrients for later use

 

Variegated - Leaves that have edges or patches a different colour than the main leaf colour

 

Weed - A plant that is growing in the wrong place

 

Winter kill - Portion of a plant dying back due to harsh winter conditions