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A Quick References of Common Gardening Terms

Ever hear someone mention a gardening term in a garden center and wasn’t sure what they meant? Almost everyone has found themselves in this situation. To help alleviate any confusion, our experts have come up with a list of some of the most common gardening terms that not everyone may know.

Amendment
Adding additional ingredients to the soil. Usually described as soil amendments. Leaf mold, compost, peat moss, and sand can all be used as soil amendments.

Annuals
Plants whose life cycle lasts only one year, from seed to blooms to seed.

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

Compost
An organic soil amendment that is the result of organic matter decomposing.

Deciduous
Perennial plants (trees, shrubs, vines and flowers) whose leaves die all at once (and usually fall) at the end of each growing season, to be replaced by new leaves at the next growing season.

Dead Head
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.

Dividing/Division
A method of propagating or increasing plants by splitting up roots, (either by digging, cutting or pulling apart), that have begun to get bound or grown together. Each divided section will have it’s own root system and one or more buds. This will make several plants from one plant and should usually be done to mature perennials every 3 to 4 years. This promotes vigorous plants and abundant blooms.

Dormancy
The yearly cycle in a plant’s life when growth and other activity ceases or slows and the plant rests. Most plants need this period to perform. It is normal that during this time, the leaves have fallen or the top growth has died down. Fertilizing should be withheld when a plant is in dormancy.

Evergreen
A plant that never loses all of it’s leaves at once.

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

Herbaceous
A plant with soft, rather than woody tissues.

Invasive
An introduced (non-native) plant that spreads quickly, disrupting the local ecosystem and isn’t checked by climate, grazing, or other natural means. Invasive plants may be great in some instances but can become dangerous for a well kept, under control garden bed.

Perennial
A plant that grows for years. Many perennials, once planted, will last for many years. As they regenerate more plants, it makes for a permanent plant.

PH
PH is an important measure of the balance of alkalinity versus acidity of your soil. Most plants grow best in the mid range. Yet, there is a specific ideal range for each plant.

Acid Soil
Soil with a pH lower than 7.0 (higher would be alkaline). Acidity is measured by the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil. Also referred to as “sour” soil.

Alkaline Soil
Soil with a pH level of more than 7.0, (lower is acid). Alkalinity is measured by the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil. Also referred to as “sweet” soil. It’s usually found in limestone country and can be associated with hard water.

Pinching 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.

Rootbound
A condition which exists when a potted plant has outgrown it’s container. The roots become entangled and matted together and the growth of the plant becomes stunted. When repotting, loosen the roots on the outer edges of the root ball, to encourage them to, once again, grow outward.

Systemic
A chemical which is absorbed directly into a plant’s system to either kill feeding insects on the plant or to kill the plant itself.

USDA Zone
A classification of the U.S. Department of Agriculture according to annual minimum temperatures and/or lengths of growing seasons. Also referred to as hardiness zones, these are regions that share similar climatic and rainfall conditions, producing similar growing seasons.

Variegated
Leaves that are