Plant Vocab 101: You probably have noticed that with every new endeavor, that you may take, has its own set of words and knowing what these words mean can be very helpful! I will be adding to this list as I have time and see the need for defining certain words or phrases, or if you ask for them.
Annual - Usually a plant which only lasts for 1 growing season. If it can keep growing in a place like Hawaii or southern California it's called 'tender perennial'.
Bed - Is usually a designated space, often 2 1/2 ft. across and generally used to plant flowers or vegetables, or a combination of the two.
Beneficial - Usually refers to types of insects that eat (or otherwise destroy) harmful insect (pests) that harm plant crops.
Biennial - Usually a plant that forms a rosette (small clump) the first year and then the second growing season it sends up flower spikes, goes to seed and often dies. Don't panic, you'll probably have many baby plants from the seeds.
Cold Frame - A short and movable type of greenhouse to keep cuttings in over winter or start plants extra early. Has a sloped clear lid so snow will slide off and let light in.
Compost - Is formed when things that were, or made of, once living plants breakdown with the aid of yeasts, bacteria and little creatures and essentially becomes very nutritious soil.
Composting - Making compost in a containment of some kind or in a particular area.
Cutting - Usually a 2-5" long piece of plant material used for propagation.
Drip Irrigation - Legos for adults! Actually a system using mostly 1/4" tubing to bring water directly to plants with little waste. Can have a manual or programmed way of turning on and off.
Drought Tolerant - Refers to plants which after receiving water while they get established, can then live on little of infrequent watering.
Espalier - Is a way of growing trees or other woody plants flat against a frame. Done for style or to save space.
Fish Fertilizer - Often called Alaska fish. Put a couple of tablespoons in a watering can, then fill with water. Balanced and not overly strong, especially nice for outside plants. Economical and even seems to discourage pests from eating plants.
Flow - How much water (in gallons) comes out of an emitter (specific point in irrigation tubing) per hour. This would be important for knowing how long to leave your irrigation turned on.
Green - As in 'go green' is a way of doing things that involves recycling or re-purposing things and avoiding harsh chemicals. Also may refer to electric cars and solar energy.
Greenhouse - Essentially an outside room to grow plants in that has walls and ceiling made of glass or plastic with wooden or metal framing. The plants are grown on shelves in pots or in raised beds separated by a path.
Hothouse - Another name for a greenhouse. They come in all sizes from: tabletop to warehouse.
Irrigation - Professionally installed and programmed allows the homeowner to water at night when evaporation is minimal and thus saves water.
Jute - A coarse string which is ideal to train plants like pole beans on. Looks natural in the garden and can be composted when it's served its purpose.
Kittens or Cats - Are ideal garden companions and very ornamental too!
Kneeling Pad - A cushion used to protect the gardener's knees while down close to the soil. Larger ones are best.
Loppers - A tool with long handles, which is good for cutting branches less than about 2 1/2" in diameter.
Lowest Average Temperature - This is the lowest winter temperature you area is likely to get for any length of time. Very important to know when buying plants. This helps determine which climate zone you are in.
Mulch - A covering for the soil around plants. Can be many different things. Conserve moisture in the soil and limits weeds.
Nematodes - Beneficial insects used to control insect pests.
Osmocote - A very good shake-on long term fertilizer. Especially nice for house plants.
Overwinter - Remain alive through the winter to resume growth in the spring.
Perennial - A plant which usually can grow a number of years if the conditions in your area are right. It is important to read the plant label and or check a reliable reference book like Sunset Western Garden Book.
Permaculture - a sustainable method of farming or gardening that could go on indefinitely and is mostly self-sufficient.
Propagation - A method of growing many plants from one stock plant.
Raised Bed - Is usually a contained space, often 2 1/2' across and filled with good soil (6-12" deep) where flowers or vegetables or a combination of the two are planted. A wooden box-shaped frame is often used to keep the soil in.
Sunset Western Garden Book - No gardener should be without this useful book! It will save you money and plant-death heartache from the first time you consult it.
Sustainable - even with use the natural resources on the property are not being using up.
Tender Perennial - Plants that will usually die outside during cold winters. Such plants may overwinter inside in a bright window with minimal watering in a cool room.
Unit - A measurement bark mulch is sold by. 1 unit = 7 1/2 yards (see below*)
Vermiculture - The use of red worms to breakdown vegetable kitchen scraps to make compost tea (a natural liquid fertilizer) and worm castings.
Wilt - When plants droop due to water loss from the soil of dry air. Certain insects may also cause this.
Worm Castings - Sometimes called 'black-gold' is a highly nutritious compost.
Xeriscaping - A method of plant placement where the plants needing the most water are planted nearest to the house and those needing less are furthest from it.
Yard - * A measurement bark mulch is sold by. 1yd covers approx. 108 sq. ft. with 3" of bark mulch.
Zone of Climate Zone - Determined by your lowest average temperature and how much rainfall you are likely to have. Sunset Western Gardener explains this very well.