AHS: Abbreviation for the American Horticultural Society.

Alternate: Leaves, buds or shoots that occur singly at different heights on the stem, alternating between one side of the stem and the other.

Annual: Plants that complete their life cycle in one growing season.

Asexual: A propagation technique reproducing plants by using cuttings or division.

BasalThe lowest part of a plant or stem.

Bed OutA horticultural specification for planting an entire bed with one species.

Biennial: Plants that live for two years, producing flowers and/or fruit in their second year from seed.

BractA modified leaf, with or without a stem, that’s usually located at the base of a flower. Often confused with the flower itself, fruit or a cluster of flowers or fruits such as Poinsettia and Bougainvillea that are actually bracts surrounding the tiny central flowers.

Canker: A bacterial or fungal disease on woody plants. Gradual death will occur in the cambium layer leaving sunken bark lesions.

Compost: A blend of decayed, organic material such as manure and vegetation used to fertilize or improve the soil’s structure with rich nutrients.

Crown: The plant crown is where the stem meets the roots. Most crowns are planted at soil level or a little above ground level. Burying the crown below the soil can lead to rot and eventually kill the plant.

CymeA flat-topped or domed flower head in which the center flowers open first.

Damping-off: rotting of seedlings and cuttings caused by any of several fungi; a fungal attack near the soil line that cases cuttings or emerged seedlings to fall over and die.

Erosion:  The washing away or removal of soil created by wind, water or man. Mulching or planting cover crops after the last harvest helps to prevent wintertime erosion.

Everlasting Flowers: Flowers that have been grown for drying and preserving. They usually have papery petals that retain some or all of their color once they are dried. Some Everlasting Flowers include Gompherena, strawflower and statice.

Folly:  An ornamental and sometimes whimsical structure in the landscape.

Framework: The bare branches or skeleton of a tree or shrub.

Frond: The branch and leaf structure of a fern or members of the palm family.

Fungicide: A chemical used to protect against, inhibit or kill plant diseases caused by fungi.

Fungus:  A primitive form of plant life known to houseplant growers as the most common cause of infectious disease such as powdery mildew and sooty mold.

Hardening Off: To gradually toughen plants for new environment prior to transplanting into the garden. This is done over several days, increasing the time outside each day. Usually done when taking seedlings or transplants home from the nursery, out of the greenhouse, or moving them outside to a cold frame or protected area.

Horticulturist: Scientists who use a variety of tools to study plants from fruits, vegetables, and flowers to ornamentals. Horticulturists may focus on a variety of issues, from fruit yield to appearance to the ability to endure cold or drought. They are interested in everything from plant genetics to breeding to aesthetics and may work everywhere from greenhouses to gardens to parks.

Humus: An organic substance resulting from the breakdown of plant material occurring naturally in soil or in the production of compost. Humus is rich in plant nutrients and is very retentive of water when added to soil. Humus is extremely important to the fertility of soils in both a physical and chemical sense.

Intercrop: A crop grown with another crop, but matures at a different rate.

IPMAcronym for Integrated Pest Management. A method by which gardeners can learn to manage and eradicate pests by choosing appropriate plants and providing good growing conditions.

LeaderThe main shoot of a sapling that eventually becomes the trunk of a tree or plant.

LimyWord used to describe soil with a pH level above 7.0.

LegumeA plant of the leguminosae family that bears a pod, splits along its two seams and releases the enclosed seeds upon maturity. Legumes are nitrogen fixers reducing the need for nitrogen and soil improvement fertilizer. Legume examples:  pea, bean, clover and alfalfa

Microclimate: Climate within a given area that is different from the surrounding vicinity. A variety of conditions influencing microclimates include sun, shade, wind, drainage, hills, valleys, woodlands, hollows, structures, water proximity, and other factors.

Mulch: A thick, organic matter (leaves, straw, bark, wood chips, and more) placed over soil to suppress weeds, prevent moisture evaporation, maintain soil temperature, and keep roots from freezing.

Native: Plants that will grow in the same habitat from which they originated that can include a continent, state, or region.

Ornamental: Plants grown mostly for their beautiful foliage or flowers, not consumption.

Pip: (1.The small seed of a fruit like that of a strawberry, orange or an apple; (2. An individual rootstock of Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis) or similar plant.

Renewal Pruning:  Removing 1-2 year-old growth to the ground to promote younger, vigorous growth.

Rhizome: A thickened stem (storage organ, capable of storing food), with roots growing from it, which grows horizontally below or on the soil surface. New growth then emerges from different points of the rhizome. Examples Bearded Irises, Calla Lily and some lawn grasses are rhizome plants.

Runner:  A slender creeping or, trailing stem which produces small plantlets along the length wherever its leaf and bud parts come in contact with the soil. These nodes and root tips are called stolons. The new plant may be severed from the parent after it has developed sufficient roots. A strawberry plant is an example of a plant that develops runners.

VascularVessels that conduct water or nutrients in plants.

Vegetable: A plant that has edible leaves or stems.

Weed:  Any plant (usually unattractive) growing out of place where it’s unwanted or interferes with desirable plants in the landscape. Generally weed seeds spread by winds. But seeds can also spread through domestic and commercial bulk or bags of manure, potting soil etc., and through transplants from neighbor’s yards and nursery plants.

Wildflower:  A herbaceous plant capable of growing, reproducing, and becoming established without cultivation or help from man.

Willow WaterBuds, flowers, leaves or shoots growing from the same (single) node, usually 3 or more. These leaves are not alternate nor opposite. Not sure what ‘whorl’ is? Find out with today’s post on garden terminologies.

Woody: Plants with hard, tough tissues (stems), oftentimes unsightly, as part of the structural support. Often the main stems and large roots are woody and the other stems are softer tissue. Most woody plants are perennials and include deciduous trees and shrubs, evergreen trees and shrubs, woody vines and groundcover.


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  1. […] to set out plants (relative to frost-free date)”, the phrase ‘to set out’ simply means ‘hardening off’. This is a horticulture term for placing indoor seedlings outside during daylight to gradually […]


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