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Welcome to the gardening glossary, a comprehensive reference guide designed to assist both seasoned horticulturists and budding gardeners alike.
Acidic soil: Soil with a pH level below 7, considered more acidic than alkaline (basic).
Air layering: A propagation method where a plant stem is encouraged to root while still attached to the parent plant.
Alkaline soil: Soil with a pH level above 7, considered more alkaline (basic) than acidic.
Allelopathy: The ability of some plants to release chemicals that inhibit the growth of neighboring plants.
Annual: A plant that completes its life cycle within one growing season.
Axil: The angle between a leaf or stem and the main stem where a bud is found.
Bamboo: A group of woody, evergreen grasses often used for ornamental and structural purposes.
Beneficial insects: Insects that help control pests by preying on them or their larvae.
Biennial: A plant that completes its life cycle in two growing seasons.
Bifurcate: To divide into two branches or forks.
Bonsai: The art of growing miniature trees in containers.
Bulb: A type of plant organ that stores nutrients and can be used for propagation.
Bulbils: Small bulbs or bulb-like structures produced by some plants for propagation.
Cactus: Succulent plants adapted to arid environments, characterized by fleshy stems and spines.
Catkin: A type of inflorescence resembling a long, dangling cluster of flowers.
Chlorophyll: The green pigment in plants that facilitates photosynthesis.
Citrus: A genus of flowering plants in the Rutaceae family, including oranges, lemons, and limes.
Clematis: A genus of climbing, woody vines known for their showy flowers.
Compost: Decomposed organic matter used to enrich soil.
Compost tea: A liquid fertiliser made from steeping compost in water.
Companion planting: The practice of planting specific plants together to improve growth and pest control.
Coreopsis: A genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family, known for their colourful blooms.
Corm: A bulb-like, swollen underground stem used for storage and propagation.
Cultivar: A cultivated variety of a plant, often selected for specific traits.
Cutting: A vegetative propagation method using a portion of a plant, such as a stem, to grow a new plant.
Daffodil: A spring-blooming bulbous plant with trumpet-shaped flowers.
Damping off: A disease that causes seedlings to rot at the base and topple over.
Deadheading: Removing spent flowers to promote new blooms.
Deciduous: Trees or shrubs that shed their leaves annually.
Desiccate: To dry out or remove moisture from a plant or soil.
Drip irrigation: A watering method that delivers water directly to the plant roots.
Drought-tolerant: Plants that can survive extended periods without water.
Edging: A border or barrier used to separate lawn and garden areas.
Epiphyte: A plant that grows on the surface of another plant but doesn't draw nutrients from it.
Espalier: Training a tree to grow flat against a wall or trellis.
Everbearing: Plants that produce fruit or flowers continuously throughout the growing season.
Evergreen: Trees or shrubs that retain their leaves throughout the year.
Extinction: The complete loss of a plant species.
Fan-trained: A method of pruning where branches are arranged in a fan shape against a support structure.
fertiliser: Substances added to soil to improve plant growth and health.
Flower: The reproductive structure in plants, often colourful and fragrant to attract pollinators.
Frost date: The average date of the last spring frost and the first fall frost in a region.
Fungicide: A pesticide used to control fungal diseases.
Fungus gnats: Small, flying insects that feed on decaying plant matter and can be pests in indoor gardens.
Ginkgo: A living fossil tree with unique fan-shaped leaves.
Grafting: Joining parts of different plants together to create a new plant.
Greenhouse: A controlled environment for growing plants, typically with glass or plastic walls.
Ground cover: Low-growing plants used to cover bare ground and suppress weeds.
Habitat: The natural environment in which a plant or animal species typically lives.
Hardening off: Gradually acclimating indoor-grown plants to outdoor conditions.
Hardiness zone: A geographical area that defines which plants can survive in particular climates.
Hardy: Able to withstand cold temperatures and harsh conditions.
Heirloom: A traditional, open-pollinated variety of plant often passed down through generations.
Herbaceous: Plants that have soft, non-woody stems and die back to the ground each year.
Herbaceous perennial: A plant that lives for more than two years and has non-woody stems.
Herbicide: A pesticide used to control weeds.
Honeysuckle: A genus of climbing or shrubby plants with fragrant, tubular flowers.
Hosepipe: A flexible tube used for watering plants and garden areas.
Hosta: A genus of shade-loving, herbaceous perennial plants known for their attractive foliage.
Hydroponics: A method of growing plants without soil, using a nutrient-rich water solution.
Hypogeal germination: A type of seed germination where the cotyledons remain below the soil surface.
Indigenous: Native to a specific region or area.
Inflorescence: A group or cluster of flowers on a single stem.
Insecticide: A pesticide used to control insects.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A holistic approach to pest control that combines different strategies to minimise environmental impact.
Internode: The portion of a stem between two nodes.
Invasive species: Non-native plants that aggressively spread and disrupt native ecosystems.
Iris: A genus of flowering plants with showy, often colourful flowers.
Irrigation: The artificial application of water to assist plant growth.
Juvenile growth: The early stages of growth in a plant's life before reaching maturity.
Kelp meal: Dried and ground seaweed used as an organic fertiliser.
Kneeler: A cushioned pad or platform used to protect knees while gardening.
Lateral bud: A bud located along the side of a stem, capable of producing a new shoot.
Lateral root: A root that grows horizontally from the main root and provides stability.
Leaf miner: Insect larvae that tunnel between the layers of a leaf, causing damage.
Legume: A plant from the family Fabaceae, which often enriches the soil with nitrogen.
Lilac: A genus of flowering shrubs and small trees known for their fragrant flowers.
Loam: A soil type with balanced proportions of sand, silt, and clay, ideal for plant growth.
Macronutrient deficiency: A lack of essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium in plants.
Macronutrients: Essential nutrients required by plants in relatively large quantities, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Marcescent: A plant that retains its dead leaves through the winter.
Microclimate: The specific climate conditions of a small area, such as a garden bed.
Micronutrients: Essential nutrients required by plants in small quantities, such as iron, zinc, and manganese.
Mulch: A protective covering applied to the soil surface to retain moisture and control weeds.
Native plants: Plants that naturally occur in a specific region and have not been introduced from elsewhere.
Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K): The three essential elements in fertilisers, representing the primary nutrients plants need.
Node: The part of a stem where leaves, buds, and branches emerge.
Ovary: The female reproductive part of a flower that contains ovules.
Overwintering: Protecting plants from winter conditions to ensure survival and growth in spring.
Offshoots: Short, horizontal stems that occur in whorls or near whorls at the crown of stems.
Olericulture: The study of vegetable production.
Opposite leaves: Leaves arising from opposite sides of the same node.
Organic matter: Materials rich in carbon of either plant or animal origin, which exist in all stages of decomposition of soils.
Ovary: Part of the pistil that contains one or many small bodies known as ovules.
Ovule: The immature seed in the ovary.
Palmate: A leaf or venation pattern with several lobes radiating from a central point.
Parterre: A formal garden design with symmetrical, ornamental planting beds.
Papyrus: A tall, aquatic plant used in ancient times to make paper.
Pea gravel: Small, rounded stones often used for decorative purposes or in pathways.
Peat moss: A type of organic matter used to improve soil texture and water retention.
Pedicel: The stalk that supports a single flower within an inflorescence.
Perennial: A plant that lives for more than two years, often returning each season.
Pesticide: Chemical substances used to control pests and diseases in gardens.
Petal: The colourful, leaf-like part of a flower responsible for attracting pollinators.
Petiole: The stalk that connects a leaf to the stem.
pH: A measure of soil acidity or alkalinity that affects plant nutrient availability.
Photosynthesis: The process by which plants convert sunlight into energy, producing oxygen and carbohydrates.
Photosynthate: The organic compounds produced during photosynthesis, such as sugars.
Phytophthora: A genus of plant-pathogenic oomycetes that causes root rot and other diseases.
Phytoremediation: Using plants to remove pollutants and contaminants from the environment.
Pith: The central core of a plant stem, often soft and spongy.
Plant propagation: The process of creating new plants from seeds, cuttings, or other methods.
Planting: Placing seeds, bulbs, or seedlings into the soil for growth.
Pollard: To prune a tree severely to stimulate new growth.
Pollination: The transfer of pollen from the male part of a flower to the female part, leading to fertilisation and seed formation.
Pollinator: An animal, often an insect or bird, that facilitates pollination by transferring pollen between flowers.
Polyculture: Growing different plant species together in the same area for mutual benefits.
Prickly heat: A condition in plants caused by excessive sunlight, resulting in scorched or damaged leaves.
Pruning: The act of cutting back plants to control growth and improve shape.
Propagation: The process of creating new plants from seeds, cuttings, or other methods.
Quiescent: A state of rest or dormancy in plant tissues.
Rain barrel: A container used to collect and store rainwater for garden use.
Rake: A tool with a row of teeth used for leveling and clearing debris.
Raised bed: A garden plot elevated above the surrounding ground, often contained by boards.
Rhizome: A horizontal underground stem that produces roots and shoots.
Rhizosphere: The region of soil directly influenced by a plant's roots.
Rootbound: When a plant's roots have outgrown their container, restricting growth.
Rootstock: The lower part of a grafted plant onto which the scion is attached.
Rose: A flowering shrub of the genus Rosa, known for its fragrant, colourful flowers.
Sapling: A young tree that has grown beyond the seedling stage but is not yet mature.
Scion: A detached shoot or bud used in grafting.
Seed bank: A collection of seeds stored for preservation and conservation purposes.
Seed coat: The protective outer covering of a seed.
Seed pod: The protective outer covering of a mature seed, often containing multiple seeds.
Seed tray: A shallow container used for starting seeds indoors.
Seeding rate: The amount of seed planted per unit of area.
Seedling: A young plant grown from a seed.
Self-pollination: The process of a flower being pollinated by its own pollen.
Silica: A mineral that provides structural support to plants, often found in grasses.
Sow: To plant seeds in the soil.
Spikelet: A small, dense cluster of flowers in a grass inflorescence.
Spore: A reproductive cell or structure that can grow into a new organism, often found in fungi and some plants.
Staking: Supporting a plant with stakes to prevent bending or breaking.
Stem cutting: A type of cutting taken from a plant stem for propagation.
Stolon: A horizontal, above-ground stem that produces new plants at its nodes.
Substrate: The material or medium used for growing plants, such as soil or hydroponic solutions.
Sucker: A new shoot or growth arising from the base or roots of a plant.
Taproot: A single, thick main root that grows straight down.
Tendril: A thin, spiraled stem or leaf used for climbing and support.
Thatch: A layer of dead grass and roots that accumulates on the soil surface, affecting lawn health.
Thigmomorphogenesis: Changes in plant growth or structure in response to mechanical stimulation.
Thigmotropism: The response of plants to touch or physical contact with other objects.
Thin-layer chromatography (TLC): A technique used to separate and analyse plant compounds.
Thinning: The process of removing excess seedlings to allow for proper spacing and growth.
Tolerance: A plant's ability to withstand adverse conditions or stress.
Topdressing: Applying a layer of compost or organic matter to the soil surface.
Torenia: A genus of annual or perennial flowering plants known for their colourful blooms.
Transgenic plant: A plant that has had its genetic material altered using genetic engineering techniques.
Translucent: Allowing light to pass through, such as the leaf surface.
Transpiration: The process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts, such as leaves, stems, and flowers.
Transplanting: Moving a plant from one location to another.
Trellis: A structure or framework used to support climbing plants.
Trowel: A small hand tool used for digging and planting.
Tuber: An enlarged, fleshy underground stem used for storage and propagation.
Urticaria: A rash or irritation caused by contact with stinging nettle or similar plants.
Variegated: Leaves with distinct patterns of different colours.
Vermicomposting: Composting using worms to break down organic matter.
Vermiculite: A mineral used in gardening to improve soil aeration and water retention.
Vigor: A plant's overall strength, health, and ability to grow well.
Vine: A plant with trailing or climbing stems, often used for ornamentation.
Water-soluble: Substances that can dissolve in water.
Waterlogging: When soil becomes overly saturated with water, depriving plant roots of oxygen.
Water-wise gardening: A gardening approach that focuses on water conservation and efficient irrigation methods.
Weeding: Removing unwanted plants or weeds from a garden bed.
Weed barrier: A material used to suppress weed growth while allowing water and air to pass through.
Wheelbarrow: A small handcart with one or two wheels used for carrying soil and plants.
Whitefly: Small, flying insects that feed on plant sap and can be pests in gardens.
Wildflower: A flower that grows freely in its natural habitat, often with minimal human intervention.
Windbreak: A barrier, such as a hedge or fence, used to protect plants from strong winds.
Winter dormancy: A period of reduced activity or growth in plants during winter months.
Xanthophyll: Yellow pigments found in plants, involved in photosynthesis.
Xeriscaping: Landscaping with drought-resistant plants to conserve water.
Xylem: Plant tissue responsible for transporting water and nutrients from roots to the rest of the plant.
Yard waste: Organic material, such as leaves and grass clippings, generated from landscaping activities.
Yellowing: The discolouration of plant leaves due to nutrient deficiencies or disease.
Yield: The amount of harvest produced by a plant or crop.
Zone gardening: Dividing a garden into different growing areas based on sunlight, water, and other factors.
Zygote: A fertilised egg resulting from the fusion of male and female gametes during sexual reproduction.
Vallarta Botanical Garden
Medellin Botanical Garden
RHS Harlow Carr
Harrogate, United Kingdom
Monet's Garden, Giverny
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond, United Kingdom
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Cape Town, South Africa