Gardening Glossary

Welcome to our Gardening Glossary! This resource is designed to help both novice and experienced gardeners navigate the rich lexicon of gardening. Whether you’re reading a new gardening book, exploring our guides, or engaging in a discussion, this glossary will help you understand key terms and concepts.

Let’s demystify gardening jargon together!


  • Aerate: Introducing air into the soil to improve its structure and allow better oxygen flow to plant roots, typically done using a fork or specialized tool.
  • Annual: A plant that germinates, flowers, sets seeds, and dies all within one year.
  • Alkaline Soil: Soil with a pH value greater than 7, which can affect plant nutrient absorption.


  • Biennial: Plants that germinate and grow in the first year, and flower, set seeds, and die in the second year.
  • Bulb: An underground storage organ, often rounded, that contains the embryonic plant for the next season.
  • Bare Root: Plants sold with no soil around their roots, usually while dormant.


  • Compost: Decayed organic matter that enriches soil structure and nutrient content.
  • Cultivar: A cultivated variety produced by selective breeding.
  • Crown: The place where a plant’s stem and roots meet, often at or just below soil level.


  • Deciduous: Plants that shed all their leaves at one specific season, usually in autumn.
  • Dormancy: A temporary halt in growth and development, commonly seen in winter.
  • Drip Line: The area directly below the outermost circumference of a tree canopy where water drips off the leaves.


  • Evergreen: Plants that keep their foliage year-round.
  • Espalier: A traditional technique of training trees or shrubs to grow flat against a wall or trellis.
  • Ericaceous: Plants that prefer acidic soils, like azaleas and blueberries.


  • Fertilizer: A substance, organic or synthetic, added to soil to enhance nutrient levels.
  • Fungicide: A substance that kills or inhibits fungal growth.
  • Frost Line: The maximum depth in the soil where groundwater is expected to freeze.


  • Germination: The initiation of seed growth.
  • Grafting: Joining tissues of two plants so they grow together.
  • Growing Season: The period of the year when conditions are optimal for plant growth.


  • Hardening off: Acclimatizing indoor-grown plants to outdoor conditions over a period.
  • Humus: Rich, dark organic material formed by decomposed matter.
  • Heirloom Plants: Plant varieties that have been passed down through generations, known for their genetic purity.


  • Irrigation: Supplying water to plants using artificial means.
  • Invasive Species: Non-native plants that spread rapidly and can disrupt local ecosystems.


  • Jointing: When stems elongate in certain grain crops.


  • Kelp: Seaweed often processed and used as a natural fertilizer in gardens.
  • Knuckle: The part of a plant where a leaf, branch, or root originates.


  • Loam: A balanced soil mix of sand, silt, and clay.
  • Layering: A propagation method where a stem remains attached to the parent plant while rooting.


  • Mulch: Material, like straw or wood chips, spread over soil to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil health.
  • Mycorrhizae: Symbiotic associations between fungi and plant roots, beneficial for nutrient absorption.


  • Nematode: Tiny worms, some beneficial and others detrimental to plants.
  • Node: The point on a plant stem from which leaves, branches, or flowers arise.


  • Organic Gardening: A gardening method that avoids synthetic chemicals, focusing on natural processes.
  • Osmosis: The movement of water through a semi-permeable membrane, crucial for plant nutrient uptake.


  • Perennial: Plants that live and flower for multiple years.
  • Pruning: Cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems to encourage growth.


  • Quart: A volume measure, often used for pots.
  • Quicklime: A soil additive used to raise soil pH.


  • Rhizome: Horizontal stems, usually underground, that produce shoots and roots.
  • Rootstock: A root or piece of a root onto which another plant (the scion) is grafted.


  • Sapling: A young tree.
  • Succulent: Plants with thick, fleshy parts adapted to store water.
  • Stolon: Horizontal stems, similar to rhizomes, but found above ground, as seen in strawberry plants.


  • Thinning: Removing excess plants to ensure optimal growth of the remaining ones.
  • Tilth: The physical condition of soil in relation to plant growth.


  • Understory: Plants that grow beneath the forest canopy.
  • Umbel: A cluster of flowers where stems of nearly equal length emerge from a common point, resembling an umbrella.


  • Vermicomposting: Composting using worms, typically red wigglers.
  • Variegation: The appearance of differently colored zones in the leaves and sometimes the stems of plants.


  • Water table: The underground boundary where soil is saturated with water.
  • Whorl: A circular arrangement of three or more leaves, petals, or other plant parts about a point on an axis.


  • Xeriscaping: A landscaping method suitable for dry climates, emphasizing water conservation.
  • Xylem: Plant tissue that transports water and nutrients from roots to the rest of the plant.


  • Yield: The quantity of crops harvested.
  • Yucca: A genus of perennial shrubs and trees, often used in xeriscaping.


  • Zone (Planting Zone): Defined areas based on climate conditions, especially temperatures, guiding plant hardiness.
  • Zeolite: A microporous mineral often added to soil to increase water retention and reduce compaction.

We hope this extended glossary proves invaluable in your gardening journey. Remember, gardening is a vast field, and as you dive deeper, there will always be more to learn. If you come across any terms that stump you or think of terms we should add, please let us know!