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Gardening Glossary

Explanation of general gardening terms




You may occasionally come across terms used on this site with which you aren't familiar. Below is a list of common terms used when it comes to growing fruit, vegetables or herbs.





Acid soil

Soil is considered to be acidic when the pH is measured to be lower than 7. The lower the number, the higher the level of acid in the soil.

Alkaline soil

When the pH level is measured to be higher than 7, the soil is considered to be alkaline.


Plants that grow for only one season


Plants that grow for two years are considered to be biennial. The first year is when the plant grows and the second year is when the plant flowers or produces fruit.

Broadcast seeding

The act of scattering seeds, by the handful, across a large area. This process is typically used for seeding of lawns and wildflower gardens.


The dormant immature part of a plant which is planted to grow new plants e.g. garlic (also sometimes called sets)

Cold frame

A small enclosure which is covered with glass or clear plastic, used to create a greenhouse effect for young plants.

Companion planting

The act of planting two different plants within close proximity of each other with the belief that traits from each plant will benefit the other.

Container gardening

Using containers to grow plants


A mass of stored food consisting of roots at the base and flower buds at the top


The bare rooted dormant plants e.g. Asparagus plant ready for planting


A small piece from a plant intended for the development of another plant - see propagation.


The act of removing spent flowers either with a sharp instrument or by pinching-off


The act of forcing a plant, or a branch, to bloom by means of an artificially created environment.


The time when a seeds has sprouted above the soil.


Gradually introducing plants or seedlings to the out-of-doors. This is done over several days, increasing the time outside each day.

Hard-wood cutting

A portion of a mature branch that is in the process of developing roots to produce a new plant.

Heirloom plant

A plant, vegetable, or seed that has been in cultivation for several years.


Dissolving, or moving, nutrients and minerals from the soil by running water through the soil.


Term used to describe a plant-or a portion of a plant-that has grown long, thin stalks. This is usually due to lack of adequate sunlight.


Plants that grow back every year when given proper care.


The measurement of the soil's alkalinity versus acidity, on a scale of 1-14 with 7 being neutral, 1-6 on the acid side and 8-14 on the alkaline side.

Pinching back / off

The removal of the newest growth of a plant by pinching with your fingers or snipping-off with snipers. This encourages fuller plants.


Producing multiple plants from a single plant.


Similar to tubers, but longer in shape. Examples: Iris, Cala Lily.

Root bound

The compaction and entanglement of a plants roots within it's confined growing environment.


Usually relating to immature bulbs of vegetables such as onions

Slow-release fertilizer

A type of fertilizer that "breaks-down" over time, moisture content, and/or temperature variances.

Soft-wood cutting

A portion of an immature branch that is in the process of developing roots to produce a new plant.

Sour soil

Soil with a high level of acid and a low level of alkaline. The pH of 6 indicates slightly acidic soil and the pH of 4 indicates soil that is very acidic.

Succession planting

The planting of several flowers or seeds at one time and again at one or two week intervals.

Sweet soil

Soil with a high level of alkaline and a low level of acid. The pH of 4 indicates slightly alkaline soil and the pH of 6 indicates soil that is very alkaline.


Moving a plant from one area to another.

Transplant shock

The stage a plant may go through when transplanted. The plant may look "ill" while it adjusts to it's new location.


A round, food-storing, underground mass of stem tissue. Flowers are developed within the tuber. Examples: Anemone, Cyclamen, Dahlia.
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