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Glossary of Gardening Terms

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Acid Soil

Soil that is lower than 7.0 ph

Alkaline Soil

Soil that has a pH level of about 7.0 or more. Sometimes referred to as "sweet" soil.


A plant that will complete its life cycle in one growing season.

B & B

Abbreviation for "Balled and Burlapped".  Plants that are dug with a ball of soil around the roots, which is then wrapped with burlap or other material.

Bare rooted

Plants that are dug and handled with little or no soil on their roots. The plants are stored so the roots are kept moist and the tops dormant.


A plant that usually only lives two years, normally producing flowers and seed the second year.


The tendency of cool-season plants to grow rapidly and produce seeds when exposed to warm temperatures.


Decomposed organic matter.

Dead Head

Verb. The process of pinching off used or spent blooms to keep the plants well groomed and to prevent them from setting seed. This will promote continued bloom.


Drying out of plant tissue.


The process of splitting up plants, roots and all that have began to get bound together. This will make several plants from one plant, and usually should be done to mature perennials every 3 to 4 years.

Harden Off

The process of gradually acclimatizing greenhouse or indoor grown plants to outdoor growing conditions.

Hardiness Zone

Indicates the average annual minimum temperatures and are used to show the geographic limits of cold hardiness. The zones are broken into 10 degree intervals, with each zone split into an `a' (north) and `b' (south) subzone based upon 5 degree intervals.

Leaf Mold

Partially decomposed leaf matter, used as a soil amendment.


A small group of cells that retain the capacity for rapid cell division (growth).  The main meristematic areas within the plant are the apical meristems of the terminal and lateral shoots, the vascular cambium, the root apex, and the marginal meristems (active during the growth of leaves).


Variations of the climate within a given area, usually influenced by hills, hollows, structures or proximity to bodies of water.


Noun.  Any loose material placed over the soil as a protective covering or for decorative purposes.


A plant that dies down to the ground during winter and survives to grow again each spring.


Granular volcanic rock, used to improve the aeration in potting soil.

pH Scale

The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 being the point at which soil has a neutral reaction.  Numbers lower than 7 indicate acid conditions.  Those greater than 7 indicate alkaline conditions.

Pinch Back

Utilizing the thumb and forefinger to nip back the very tip of a branch or stem. Pinching promotes branching, and a bushier, fuller plant


The release of moisture through the leaves of a plant.


Leaves which are marked with multiple colors.


A light-weight, mineral called mica that is added to potting mixtures to improve root growth via aeration and has moisture retaining abilities.

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