Gardening Glossary

Every gardener, irrespective of experience, is always gaining new knowledge of plants and gardening techniques. Our glossary aims to give you some quick and fundamental gardening information to enhance your gardening knowledge, no matter what you are growing or where you are growing. The most important weapon in a gardeners arsenal is knowledge.


The amount of air space available in soil; roots need air to thrive, and air spaces also provide drainage and passages for insects and worms to thrive. Well-aerated soils are key to growing healthy plants so that roots can breathe.


Material added to soil, usually to improve its ability to grow plants meaning that it may improve fertility, drainage, nutrient uptake, water retention, or changing pH in an optimal direction.


Plant that completes its entire life cycle in a single season.

Beneficial Insects

Insects that are considered friends to the garden because they are predators of harmful pests. For example, ladybugs and praying mantis are widely known as beneficial insects and purposefully released into gardens as a natural pest control.


Plant that completes its entire life cycle in 2 years, growing and maturing in the first year while reproducing and dying in the second year.


A plant organ that you plant underground that has fleshy scale leaves from which the plant will ultimately flower and grow before becoming dormant againn.


Structure made of glass, plastic or horticultural fleece placed over a plant for protection from weather and elements or for forcing early crops.


A method of recycling organic material such as leaves, vegetable, and food scraps so that they decompose into a rich soil amendment that gardeners frequently refer to as “Black Gold“.


Removing faded flower heads, especially on roses and rhododendrons. This encourages a plant to continue blooming from year to year, rather than seeding out.


A plant that sheds its leaves every year.

F1 Hybrid

First generation offspring which is derived from breeding 3 distinct pure-bred lines.


Nutrients to the soil that is essential to support the healthy growth of plants. Fertilizers typically contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), and often additional nutrients.

Fish Emulsion

Liquid fertilizer that has been created from byproducts of the fish oil and fish meal industry. It has a high nitrogen content, which makes it a good choice for all plants respond.


Refers to the point at which a seed begins to grow.

GMO and Genetically Engineered

“Genetically Modified Organism,” or GMO, refers to plants taht have been produced through genetic engineering which means using molecular biology techniques to artificially introduce new genes, or to eliminate or rearrange specific genes in a plant to achieve specific traits.


Calcium compound, often applied to lower pH which is particularly useful when growing brassicas (cabbages, broccoli etc) to prevent club root disease.


Layer of material placed on the soil and around plants to retain moisture, suppress weeds and improve soil structure; Materials used for mulching include well-rotted manure, compost, polythene sheets or gravel.


A labeling term for food, plants, and other products that are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture, the FDA, and other entities to be grown or made using practices approved as organic.

Organic Gardening

Practices that eliminate the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, instead relying on natural products and practices which promote the best overall natural environment. GMOs are not allowed in organic gardening.


A plant that lives for more than 2 years.


The letters “pH” are a technical terms that represent a measure of acidity. Vegetables need a soil pH between 6.2 and 6.8; herbs thrive when pH is near 7.0 (neutral); soil pH may change over time and should be tested regularly.


The transfer of pollen between flowers, which can be carried out by the wind, flying and ground-bound insects, animals or by a gardener's hand.


To grow plants from seed or by vegetative means such as cuttings, grafting, or actual germinated seeds.


Planting crops in a different physical place each growing season. Many gardening experts suggest using a 3-year rotation plan, which means in one spot in the garden, you plant a different crop three years in a row before repeating the same crop in that spot again; this planting practice helps minimize pests and diseases as well as enriching the soil, since different crops use and dispose of different nutrients and wastes.


Naturally occuring, mica-like mineral that expands when it is heated. It is traditionally used as a soil conditioner to aerate heavy or sticky clay soil.