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