Time to review some terms

First day of spring is just around the corner now. Even though it is still cold, we can look forward to nice, sunny days comfortable enough to step in the garden, do some tasks such as cleaning, preparing beds, planning etc. And, it won’t be long before we will find ourselves making trips to garden centers to see what’s new for the season and get ideas for the spring garden.

At times during such visits, or, for that matter, while browsing through gardening-related material, we come across interesting terms or abbreviations that don’t always sound familiar or are somewhat difficult to decipher. I distinctly remember my bewilderment when for the first time I heard the word “deadheading” used in reference to prolonging flowering in annuals and perennials. Back then, it sounded like a very cruel act. I now deadhead our flowering annuals and perennials regularly. So, for the benefit of others and also my own, I have compiled a short list of some common and some not-so-common terms that gardeners tend to use as well as their meanings.

ACIDIC: growing medium having a pH less than 7

ALKALINE: growing medium having a pH above 7

BIENNIAL:  a plant that matures in two years; grows during the first year and flowers during the second year.

BOLTING: premature elongation of stem into a flower stalk.

CULTIVAR: a cultivated variety.

DECIDUOUS: losing all leaves at the end of a growing season.

ESPALIER:  a tree or a shrub trained to grow against a wall often in symmetrical patterns.

HARDENING OFF: gradual adjustment of indoor-started plants to outdoors.

HEIRLOOM PLANT or VARIETY: an old cultivar that is still grown by gardeners and farmers.

NATURALIZE: to establish plants in an environment where they will continue to multiply unassisted.

pH: symbol to indicate the acidity or the alkalinity.

SCARIFICATION: scratching or nicking a hard coated seed to hasten germination.

VOLUNTEER: a cultivated plant growing from self-sown or accidentally dropped seed.

WEEPING: trees and shrubs with pendulous branches.

XERISCAPE: an attractive landscape that conserves water.


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