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Glossary


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Acid soil T
This is suitable for most plants and necessary for Rhododendrons and a number of other “ericaceous” plants. The pH is below 7.

Alkaline soil
Has a pH above 7 and most plants except those described as “ericaceous” will grow well in it.

Alpine
Term used to describe small plants suitable for growing in rock gardens.

Annual
A plant that germinates, grows, flowers, sets seed and dies within one growing season.

Aquatic
A plant that grows in water, either submerged or with its flowers and leaves floating on the surface.

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Bedding plants
Generally annual or tender plants used in quantity for a temporary garden display in summer and autumn/winter.

Biennial
A plant survives for just two growing season. It germinates and forms leaves during its first year and produces flowers and sets seeds in its second year before dying.

Bisexual
Refers to a plant that contains male and female parts within the same flower.

Blanching
Excluding light from certain vegetables, including the stems of celery and leeks, and the leaves of chicory, in order to maximise tenderness and flavour.

Bog garden
An area where the soil is waterlogged either naturally or artificially, creating a suitable environment for growing plants that thrive in moist soil

Bolting
Some plants flower or produce seed prematurely before they have put on sufficient growth and reached maturity. This is often caused by poor soil or lack of water.

Bract
A modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk. It may be brightly coloured as in the case of Poinsettias.

Broadcast
To sow seeds evenly over a wide area of soil rather than in rows.

Bud
A condensed shoot, protected by overlapping scales, from which leaves or flowers develop.

Bulb
A storage organ, usually underground, made up of fleshy scales wrapped around each other from which flowers and leaves are produced.

Bulb fibre
A mixture of peat, oyster shells and charcoal in which bulbs are grown for indoor decoration.

Bulbil
A small immature bulb often formed at the base of mature bulbs or, as in some lilies, on stems above ground.

Bush
A woody plant with no obvious main shoot and with branches forming near ground level.

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Calyx
The name for the outer protective covering of a flower.

Cane
A thin but tough woody stem that often has a pithy or hollow centre, as in the case of the stems of bamboo and raspberry.

Catch crop
A fast growing crop planted between slower maturing crops, or grown in the interval between harvesting one crop and planting another.

Catkin
A pendulous or erect flower spike made up of bracts, each of which contains a single sex, stalkless flower.

Certified stock
Plants which DEFFRA (Department of Fisheries, Food & Rural Affairs) has checked are free from certain pests and diseases.

Chalk
A soft type of limestone which when finely ground can be used to reduce soil acidity.

Chlorosis
The loss or poor production of chlorophyll in a plants leaves, resulting in them loosing their green colour.

Clay
Describes a soil made up of minute mineral particles, which give the soil a sticky texture. Clay soils are particularly heavy and need to be drained or lightened by adding organic matter to make it easier to cultivate.

Climber
A plant that produces long shoots requiring support. They generally produce aerial roots, tendrils, leaf stalks, suckers or twining stems to attach themselves to supports such as walls, fences or trellis.

Cloche
A structure used to protect early crops outdoors or to warm up the soil prior to planting.

Clone
One of a group of identical plants all raised from a single parent by means of vegetative propagation.

Clove
Usually applied to one of the small sections that make up a garlic or shallot bulb.

Coir
Processed coconut fibre often used in potting compost as a partial of complete substitute for peat.

Composite
A plant which is a member of the compositae (daisy) family, in which the flowers appear to be single but are in fact made up of many small florets.

Compost
A term used to describe two different materials: - Seed and potting composts are specifically formulated mixtures used for raising seedlings and young plants in containers. - Garden compost is formed by rotting down vegetable matter and is used to improve the soil.

Cone
The fruit of a conifer composed of a woody central stem hard overlapping seed-bearing scales.

Conifer
A tree or shrub, usually evergreen which bears its seeds in cones.

Cordon
A trained fruit tree or bush whose growth is restricted by pruning to a single stem.

Corm
The rounded underground storage organ and stem of plants such as crocus that resemble a bulb.

Crocks
Broken pieces of clay flowerpots often used to cover the drainage holes in other pots and containers.

Crop rotation
A system of growing different vegetable crops on the same plot in consecutive years so that no one vegetable is grown in exactly the same spot more often that once in every 3 or 4 years.

Crown
The part of an herbaceous perennial that is just at soil level, from which roots and shoots grow.

Cultivar
The official name given to a plant variety that originated in cultivation.

Cutting
A portion of leaf, bud, stem or root taken from a plant and used to propagate a clone of that plant.

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Damping down
Watering the floor and staging of a greenhouse or cold frame to increase the humidity and lower temperature in warm weather.

Damping off
The collapse and death of seedlings cause by excessive moisture and disease.

Deadheading
Removing dead or faded flowers from a plant to improve its appearance prevent seed production and encourage further flowering.

Deciduous
A plant that sheds its leaves in winter.

Dibber
A pointed stick used for making holes in soil when transplanting seedlings.

Disbudding
Removing all but one bud on a stem to direct a plant’s energy into the remaining bud, which will produce a large bloom as a result.

Division
Teasing, pulling or cutting apart clumps of herbaceous perennials and suckering shrubs in order to produce more plants.

Dormant
The phase when a plants growth slows or stops completely, usually in autumn or winter.

Double
A flower with more than the usual number of petals.

Drawn
The term used for plants or seedlings that have grown long, thin and weak as result of overcrowding or insufficient light.

Drill
The shallow, straight and narrow furrow in which seeds are sown outdoors.

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Earthing up
Drawing up of soil round plants to protect them from frost, sun or disease, or to blanch their stems.

Espalier
A fruit tree or shrub that is trained by pruning and tying to grow flat against a wall or fence. Branches are trained horizontally to form matching pairs on either side of a main stem.

Evergreen
A plant that retains its leaves throughout the year.

Exotic
A plant introduced from another country.
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Fan
A fruit tree or shrub trained and tied flat against wall or fence in the shape of a fan.

Fertiliser
A material that provides plants with one or more or the main plant nutrients that help them grow.

Floret
A very small flower, especially one that is part of a flower head as in plants of the daisy family.

Flower
A plant’s reproductive structure, containing female ovaries, which bear the seeds and anthers which produce pollen or male cells. Most plants carry the ovaries and anthers in the same flower, others on separate flowers or separate plants.

Forcing
Encouraging plants to grow, flower or fruit before their natural time by placing them in darkness or a heated greenhouse.

Frond
A feathery leaf of a fern or palm.

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Genus
A group of closely related plants e.g. Birch are grouped in the genus Betula.

Germination
The stage at which a seed first begins to sprout.

Grafting
Joining the stem or bud of one plant onto the root or stem of another to form a new plant.

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Half-hardy
Term used for plants that can generally only be grown outdoors during the summer but which may survive mild winters outdoor in a sheltered position.

Hardening off
Gradually accustoming tender and half-hardy plants that have been raised in a protected environment to outdoor conditions.

Hardy
Term applied to plants that are able to survive outside in normal winter conditions.

Herbaceous
A plant that does not form a woody stem. Most herbaceous plants usually die down each winter and grow again in the spring.

Hip
The fleshy, berry-like red or orange fruit of a rose.

Humidity
The amount of water vapour present in the atmosphere.

Humus
Decayed vegetable matter that is usually sweet smelling, brown and crumbly.

Hybrid
The name given to a plant that is produced from crossing two different species or varieties, often of the same genus which inherit some of the important characteristics of each parent.

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Inorganic
A chemical compound that does not contain carbon. Inorganic fertilizers are produced chemically and are not naturally occurring.

Insecticide
A substance that is used to kill garden insect pests.
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Juvenile
Used to describe a young leaf shape which is different to that when mature.

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Lateral
A side shoot or stem growing from a bud on a larger stem.

Leafmould
Compost made from dead or decaying leaves.

Lime
Calcium is the chief chemical element of lime which is an essential plant food and soil conditioner that is used to neutralize acid soil and to improve the texture of heavy clay soils.

Loam
A soil that contains a blend of clay, sand, humus and silt and is well aerated and free-draining.

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Manure
Organic substance that is added to the soil to increase its fertility. They are usually of animal origin containing dung and straw.

Marginal
A plant that requires a constantly damp or wet soil.

Midrib
The central vein of a leaf, which divides it into two halves.

Mulch
Any material applied to the top of soil around plants which help conserve moisture, enrich the soil, suppress weeds or warm the ground.

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Naturalise
The growing of plants and bulbs in a simulated natural environment in the garden, usually in grass.

Nectar
A sweet liquid, secreted by some flowers that attracts pollinating insects.

Neutral
Describes a soil that is neither acid nor alkaline and has a pH of about 7.

Nitrogen
A natural element occurring in the soil and air, which is absorbed by plants primarily to make leaves.

Node
The part of a plants stem, which in some cases may be slightly swollen, from which leaves, buds and shoots grow.

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Offset
A small, complete plant produced by many bulbous plants.

Organic
Used to describe substances that are derived from animal or vegetable matter such as manure and compost.

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Peat
Organic matter that is formed when plant remains from bogs or heathland is prevented from decaying past a certain point through lack of oxygen.

Perennial
A plant that lives for an indefinite period, which includes trees and shrubs although it is largely used to describe herbaceous plants which die down each winter and re-grow in the spring.

Pergola
Two rows of uprights of wood, metal or brick that are crossed by beams at the top, Climbers are trained over the structure.

Petal
A modified leaf, usually coloured, which forms part of a flower.

pH
A scale running from 1 to 14 and used to measure whether a soil is acid, (below pH 7) neutral (pH 7) or alkaline (above pH 7). Most garden soils are within the range of 4.5 to 8.

Pinching out
The removal of the growing point of a stem to promote branching or to induce bud formation. Also known as stopping.

Pollen
The powder-like substance produced by a flowers anthers that fertilises the seeds.

Potting
Placing a plant in a container with compost.

Pricking out
Transplanting seedlings from their initial containers into larger ones.

Propagation
The increase of plants, either by seeds or by means of cuttings, division, grafting or layering.

Pruning
Controlled cutting back of plants, particularly those with woody stems to restrict size, train to shape, promote the growth of flower buds, or to remove dead or damaged wood.

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Resting period
A period in the annual cycle of a plant when they are either dormant or making very little or no growth.

Rhizome
A thickened horizontal underground stem with roots and leaves or shoots.

Rootstock
A propagation term for a vigorous rooting plant upon which another (known as a scion) is grafted.

Runner
A stem which roots at the tip on contact with moist soil and forms a new plant.

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Scion
The shoot or bud of a plant which is joined by grafting to the roots or stem of another. A scion transmits the flowering or fruiting characteristics of the variety from which it has been taken.

Seedbed
An area of soil that has been leveled and raked to produce a fine tilth for sowing seeds into.

Seedling
A young, recently germinated plant that has a single unbranched stem.

Self-fertile
A plant which sets fruit and seed when fertilised with its own pollen.

Set
A term used in different ways to describe: - A small onion or shallot bulb that is planted to grow into a mature vegetable for eating. - Blossom that has been fertilised, especially on a fruit tree.

Shrub
A woody multi-branched plant with no central stem and branches near to the ground.

Species
Denotes a closely allied group of plants within a genus which have unique characteristics that breed true to type from seed.

Spit
The depth of a spade’s blade.

Spore
A microscopic, single-cell body by which ferns, fungi and mosses reproduce.

Sport
A part of a plant such as a shoot that is different from its parent (such as variegated leaves) and can be propagated to produce a totally new plant.

Spur
A short lateral branch of a tree which bears flower buds.

Staking
Supporting plants with canes or stakes.

Stamen
The male reproductive organ of a flower, consisting of a pollen-bearing anther and a supporting filament.

Standard
A tree or shrub with a clear trunk or stem before the head of branches.

Sterile
A plant that is unable to produce seed.

Stone
The seed of an apricot, cherry, peach, plum or other member of the genus Prunus.

Stopping
See pinching out.

Strain
A distinct variation of an existing species or variety that is raised from seeds.

Sucker
A shoot sprouting from below ground at the base of a plant. In the case of grafted plants, suckers grow from the rootstock and should be torn off at their point of origin.

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Taproot
The main anchoring root of a plant that descends vertically. It also describes the long root formed by vegetables such as carrots and parsnips.

Tender
Applied to plants that are vulnerable to frost damage.

Tendril
A thin, curling stem-like growth produced on stems and leaf stalks that twines around supports, enabling the plants such as sweet peas to climb.

Terminal
The shoot or bud that grows at the tip of a stem or branch.

Thinning
A term used in different ways to describe: - The removal of seedlings in beds or containers to provide more space for those next to them to grow - The reduction of the number of flowers or fruit buds to prevent overcrowding and to improve fruit quality.

Tilth
The fine crumbly surface layer of soil needed for a seedbed before sowing seed.

Trace elements
The name for certain minor chemical elements, such as iron, manganese, and copper, which are essential for plant growth.

Transplanting
Moving seedlings or plants from one place to another to give them more growing space.

Tree
A plant that has a tall central woody trunk or main stem before the branches arise.

Truss
The name for a loose cluster of flowers or fruit.

Tuber
A thickened fleshy root (dahlia) or an underground stem (potato) which serves as a food store and produces shoots.

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Underplanting
Growing small plants beneath and between large plants such as trees or shrubs.

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Variegated
Applied to leaves (and sometimes flowers) that are marked decoratively in a contrasting colour, usually yellow, cream or white.

Variety
A variant of a species which has arisen naturally.

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Weed
Commonly used to describe vigorous non-ornamental plants which unless removed swamp cultivated plants.

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