Gardening Terms You Probably Don’t Know But Should

Do you know your basic gardening terms? How about the more complex ones? Whether you’re a gardening beginner or working your way to becoming a certified green thumb, you must know your gardening lingo. I myself get confused with some of the words sometimes. So I’ve listed the words here where I can check into once in while. Check for yourself as you read on.

Gardening Terms For True Blue Gardeners

There was once a time when all I know of gardening was seeds, pots, soil, and plant. Now I talk of cultivar and vermicomposting and completely know what I’m talking about. Although there are more terms in the plant and garden world to fill up a book, these garden terms will be helpful. I’ve listed up the gardening terms which I have learned as I progressed. Here they are!

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



This is a soil, compost, and fertilizer with a pH between 0 and 7.0. A lot of plants favored by gardeners actually prefer acidic soil like hydrangea, camellia, and gardenias.


This is the act of loosening soil or compost to let air circulate.



Microorganisms which thrive in the presence of oxygen.


This is a poor soil structure and is often referred by gardeners as “sweet soil”. Alkaline soil has a pH between 7.0 and 14.


Microorganisms which thrives even in the absence of oxygen.


Tomato, bell pepper and sweet potatoes are annual vegetables while cosmos and impatiens are annual flowers. These are plants which complete their life cycle in one growing season and then dies.


An area which receives less rainfall annually and is characterized by a dry and sparsely vegetated area. However, plants such as cactus and succulents are perfectly adapted to this landscape.




Bare Root

A propagating method, especially with growing roses, where a dormant plant is extracted from the soil and replanted.

Bedding Plants

Bedding plants are ornamentals which are temporarily planted for their beautiful display. Annuals like begonia, petunia, and geranium are great bedding plants.

Beneficial Insect

Insects which cause no harm to plants but rather aid in a natural process.


Plants which take two growing seasons to complete its growth cycle are biennials. Some examples of biennial plants are parsley and carrots in vegetables and sweet williams in ornamentals.


Materials in the natural environment which are able to decompose or break down.

Biological Pest Control

An organic gardening practice using beneficial insects or parasites to prevent pests.


Plant’s survival mechanism which allows them to flower or bear seeds prematurely.

Bone Meal

This is a finely ground fertilizer from white bones which is added to the soil to amend phosphorus levels.


A landscape art form which originated in Japan which grows plants especially trees in containers to stunt growth.

Bud Union

The area on a grafted plant where the rootstock and branch meets.


Bulbs are short stems with fleshy leaves. They serve as a food source for the plant when it goes dormant.





The process of allowing potatoes to shoot by placing them in ideal condition.

Companion Planting

This is the practice of planting plants together to benefit from each other.


The end product of a process where organic matters are broken down by microorganisms. Compost should be rich in nutrients, dark in color, and odorless.


This is the natural process of breaking down organic matters from which compost is produced. Find out all about composting in winter here.


Plants with needle-like leaf structure which bears cones.


A swollen underground stem which serves as food storage for plants like cyclamen and gladioli to survive the winter.

Crop Rotation

An organic gardening practice which helps against pest and disease attack by planting crops in a different site from the previous growing season.


A cultivar is short for cultivated varieties. They are plants grown other than from seeds like propagation from cuttings.


A preparation process for planting where weeds are removed and the soil surface is broken down.


Part of plants taken for propagation.




Damping Off

This is the decaying of young plants caused by overwatering and soil diseases.


“Off with the heads!” It sounds morbid, but it really is just cutting off the dead flower heads to prevent the spread of disease in plants.


These are plants which lose their leaves in the fall. Examples of these kinds of plants are the maple trees. Plants like forsythia lose their leaves and replaced with flowers.

Deep Shade

Plants which thrive with limited direct sunlight are deep shade plants.


The process of drying up of harmful insects and organisms using natural or chemical means.

Direct Seed

Simply means to grow crops and plants from seeds planted directly in the soil.


The state of plants where the growing process is temporarily halted.

Double Digging

Preparing the soil by digging trenches then forming the soil into a row.




Edible Landscaping

A garden design or scheme which blends ornamentals with edible vegetables to create a beautiful yet consumable landscape.


To grow or train plants against a flat surface like a wall. This is, especially, perfect for small garden landscape.


Plants which do not shed its leaves during winter are evergreens. Examples of evergreen in trees are spruce and pine.





Can either be solid or liquid, organic or synthetic, which is added to the soil to boost nutrient levels. Learn how to make an organic fertilizer from compost or a homemade fertilizer here.


These are cold weather grasses which are used for landscaping and ornamental purposes.

Frost Date

This is the expected frost occurrence in temperate areas.


Synthetic or organic mixtures used to prevent the spread of fungi in plants.





This is the beginning process of plant growth where seeds sprouts and form structure.


The act of leveling the soil as a foundation in a garden landscape.


A propagation technique where a branch is cut and connected to a more established plant.

Green Manure

Cover crops like rye and red clover which are grown to condition the soil before growing other food crops.




Hardening Off

Plants are made to undergo a simulation process in a greenhouse to prepare them for a certain temperature or climate.

Hardiness Zone

Geographically defined areas as dictated by climate to help determine the capability of plant growth in an area.


Vegetables such as brassicas and flowers such as winter jasmine and snowdrops are winter-hardy. They are plants which can survive outdoors in the difficult condition.

Heavy Soil

A type of soil which can be discouraging to gardeners because it consists mostly of clay and has a poor drainage. However, there are ways to amend clay soil to make it more suitable for growing plants.


Plants which are grown closely to serve as a barrier or define boundaries.

Heirloom Seeds

Seeds from fruits which were open-pollinated or pollinated through natural means. They are valued for the same traits they have with the parent plants.


Types of plants which have softer structures rather than hard and woody.


Hugelkultur is a composting process using raised beds made from decaying organic matter such as wood, straw, and hay.


Composed of the end products of the microorganisms working in the soil. It contains a fair amount of nutrients perfect for growing crops.


A product or offspring of two different variety of the same kind of plant created by using the pollen of one variety to pollinate the other.


A method of growing plants without soil. Plants are grown in water with mineral nutrient solutions.




In Season

Vegetable, fruits, or crop plants which are available in the time or season in question. Pomegranates, for example, are in season from late summer to early winter.


The method of supplying water to a crop farm or a landscape in controlled amounts, especially in areas with insufficient water supply.





A process of altering the features of a land to make it pleasing and more attractive. It also involves adding natural elements, in terms of gardening, and abstract features such as garden furniture.


A propagation method where a branch of a plant is encouraged to root while it is still attached to the plant.


A type of soil rich in organic matters and is characterized by a dark color and good drainage properties.





Organic matter excreted by animals and used to amend soil and fertilizer ingredient.


Mineral elements which are needed by plants in small quantities but are altogether essential for plant growth and health.


Can be an organic or synthetic material used to cover plant beds to help protect plants from heat, pest, and weeds.




No-Till Gardening

Growing potatoes in straw is an example of no-till gardening where the soil is not cultivated but crops are grown in mulches instead.


The three essential “macronutrients”, (N) Nitrogen, (P) Phosphorus, (K) Potassium needed for plant growth.





Refers to living organisms or products of living organisms.

Organic Gardening

A gardening practice which does not involve synthetic or unnatural fertilizers or pesticides for healthy and chemical-free crops and plants.




Parasitic Plants

A plant which attaches itself to another plant which serves as a host plant from which it acquires nutrients.


This is another term for a garden arbor.


Plants which live for more than two years.  Perennial herbs like rosemary and lavender go dormant in winter and regrow in spring. Examples of perennial flowers are roses and perennial bulbs as tulips.


This is used to measure the acidity or basicity of the soil. Since the acidity or basicity of the soil affects microorganism activity.


Cutting off tender parts of plants using the fingers.


Containers or enclosed spaces use to grow plants in.


This is the process in nature where the flowers are fertilized to allow fruit bearing.


Animals or insects like bees and birds which help plants bear fruits. They do this by transferring pollen from one flower to another causing fertilization.


The act of growing new plants either from seeds or though other plant parts like cuttings.


This is the removal of some parts of a plant to either cut dead or unhealthy areas or to aid in a healthy and pleasing plant growth.





A variety of rose as defined by their structure and physical features where they grow taller and sturdier than the climbing ones.


These are fleshy stems underground from which plants like grasses and the ginger plant spreads.


The trailing plant parts of crops like strawberries which roots above ground and from which new plants can be grown.



Season Extender

Greenhouse, high tunnels, cloche, row covers, raised beds, and cold frames are season extenders which allow gardeners to grow crops beyond the growing season.


Another word for pruning shears.

Soil Amendment

When a soil lacks certain nutrients, has poor drainage or water retention, the soil can be improved or amended. It means changing the soil composition or supplying with what it lacks.

Soil Test

Some plants may be picky about the soil so you’ll have to test it to see if the pH suits the plant needs. A soil test is also conducted to measure the nutrient contents essential for plant growth.


Plants with a long bare stem trained to grow to a certain height where the foliage and flowers are allowed to grow a bushy look.


These are drought-resistant plants commonly grown for arid landscape. The plant parts are usually thick and fleshy to hold water.





A moderate temperature or lacking extreme hot or cold temperature which is favorable in gardening.


It is the twisting slender growth in vine plants which allows the plant to attach itself to supports or trellis.


In seed starting, it is the removal of excess seedlings especially the less healthy ones to allow for growth room. It is also the removal of certain branches of trees or bushes to give it an open structure.


This is the state of your soil when it’s in tip-top shape and perfect for sowing seeds. Soil with a good balance of air, water, and nutrients is in good tilth.

Thriller, Filler, And Spiller

This a container gardening design idea which uses the design principle of balance and elements. A taller plant in the center is called the thriller and low growing plants around the thriller is the filler. Spillers are trailing plants which are planted in the edge around the container.

Top Dressing

This is applying fertilizer or compost in the soil bed after the crops have grown.


This is a landscape practice using pruning shears to allow woody perennials to take a certain shape.


A planting process where seedlings are transferred or planted directly in soil beds.


An area or landscape which requires a good amount of water or rainfall.


This is the part of the plant which is fleshy and found underground. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are examples of tuberous vegetables. Dahlias are flowering plants with tubers.





Variegated plants are used as ornamentals for their beautiful foliage. It’s an interesting color combination of white, yellow, or red.


The process of breaking down organic matter through earthworms. Gardeners regard vermicompost as a nutrient dense soil great for growing crops.




Worm Casting

The rich and organic dark matter produced from the worms action in vermicomposting.





Growing low-maintenance or drought-tolerant plants instead of a turf in a landscape to minimize water use.


This video from CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY will get you more acquainted with the garden lingo:

Be a gardening expert and talk about using gardening terms only true blue gardeners speak of. Impress your friends and neighbors by knowing these gardening terms. I hope you’ve found this gardening glossary both helpful and entertaining.

Did I miss out on a gardening term you know? I’d be delighted to learn about it from your post in the comments section below.

Are you a gardening beginner? Then this guide and basic tips for gardening beginners will surely help.

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