Top 83: Helpful Gardening Terms for Beginners.

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Top 83: Helpful Gardening Terms for Beginners.


Gardening lingo got you little lost? Have no fear our top 83 helpful gardening terms for beginners will get you back on track and feeling like a pro in no time!

Plant and Seed Terms for beginners


1. Annual: An annual plant is one that completes its entire life cycle in the space of one year. Once your annual has produced new seeds it slowly dies, leaving you with plenty of offerings, so you can do it all again next year.

2. Bare root: To put in the simplest terms for beginners, a bare root plant is one that is not in a phase of active growth (is not growing in its current state) These plants are plucked from the ground, the roots are then cleared of soil and finally it is preserved until the next growing season.

3. Biennial: A biennial plant is one that completes its entire life cycle in the space of two years. In its first year a biennial focuses on developing strong roots, stems and leaves. The following year expect beautiful blooms before your plant naturally dies.

4. Bolting: Bolting is one of the standout terms for beginners I hope you never need to use, but we will cover it for you, just in case. Bolting occurs usually when plants experience a high exposure to heat or the sun. The plants you intended to crop, instead provides you with premature flowerings and seeds. The results of which leave a bitter taste in your mouth and should not be eaten. It is a right pain in the grass!

5. Bone meal: A type of plant fertiliser made up of animal bones ground to a powdery consistency.

6. Botanical name: One of the more complicated terms for beginners to decipher, is what exactly a botanical name is. So we are going to break down the basics for you. The genus (a group of plants that have common relatives) and the species (a sub group within the wider genus that share similar characteristics) make up a plant’s botanical name. The genus part of a botanical name usually begins with a capital letter, whereas the species is commonly uncapitalised, for example Bellis perennis is the botanical name of the daisy.

7. Bulb: A plant that stores its life cycle in an underground organ.

8. Canes: The hard stems of berry plants such as raspberries and blackberries.

9. Chlorosis: Discoloration of the leaves of your plant causing them to turn a yellowish colour. There are several reasons this may occur to your plant. Try adjusting your watering routine, or provide your plants with a fertiliser to help them receive more nutrients.

10. Crown: The base point of a plant where growing occurs and new shoots emerge.

11. Cultivar: A plant specifically bred by growers for its distinct attributes.

12. Deciduous: The term deciduous is usually used when describing a tree or shrub type plant. It essentially refers to particular types of plants that shed their leaves annually.

13. Dormancy: A dormant period refers to the time in a plant’s life cycle where it halts growth. This typically takes place in the winter months.

14. Ericaceous: A plant that is accustomed to growing in soil that is acidic. These particular plants do not do well in alkaline soil.

15. Evergreen: An evergreen plant is one that proudly displays vibrant green leaves throughout the year.

16. Exotic: A plant that naturally grows in another region, and is introduced to a new location by humans.

17. Family: Plant family links in with botanical name, and is part of the classification process, linking plants together through shared characteristics.

18. Fertiliser: Fertiliser is essentially a natural material that is full of nutrients that improve the quality and speed of your plants growth. This term for beginner gardeners essentially means super food for your greenery!

19. Foliage: The leaves of plants are referred to as foliage.

20. Fungicide: A chemical remedy for removing unwanted fungi.

21. Genus: Just in case you are scrolling through these terms for beginners specifically for this word and may not have caught it above, the genus is a group of plants that have common relatives.

22. Germination: Germination is an exciting term that refers to the beginning of your plant’s life. Usually the tell tale signs your seeds are finally germinating are the emergence of small shoots or stalks in soil.

23. Groundcover: When talking about groundcover, gardeners are referring to a plant or shrub that grows very low to the ground (has very little height)  that provides soil with protection from the elements and prevents weeds from growing.

24. Hardy: A plant’s hardiness is the level at which it can thrive and survive in tough, cold conditions. A hardy plant is well equipped to handle mother nature.

25. Heirloom: Heirloom is a less solidified bit of lingo, meaning its definition is widely interpreted. Some associate the term to mean that these plants are open pollinated (a more natural way of pollination created by wind and insects, compared with a controlled approach where humans purposefully intervene) but this is not strictly accurate.  Heirloom has a deeper historical meaning beyond this interpretation, and essentially means to save seeds. Seeds handed down from generation to generation are sown to produce heirloom plants. To reach this status officially the plant’s variety has to keep the same biology for a minimum of 50 years.

26. Herbaceous: A non woody plant that typically dies back in winter, remains dormant and then produces new growth the following spring.

27. Herbicide: A herbicide is a chemical solution designed to rid you of unwanted growth and weeds.

28. Humus: A natural element to soil consisting of decomposed leaves and other plant-like materials.

29. Invasive: A plant that cannot be tamed and often interferes with the growth of other plants nearby.

30. Native: Native is the original home of a plant, the place they grow naturally without human involvement.

31. Open pollination: A natural way that plants interact with nature for reproductive purposes. For example seeds that have been scattered and buried by wildlife, soil activity or weather elements instead of human hands.

32. Ornamental: Ornamental plants are ones that are aesthetically pleasing, with beautiful, vibrant flowers. Their main purpose is to be decorative.

33. Perennial: A perennial plant is one that continues to live for more than two years. You can also use this term to describe plants that aren’t categorised as a tree, shrub or bulb.

34. Pistil: The female reproductive organ of a plant that bears seeds.

35. Pollination: The process in which pollen is transferred from a male reproductive part of a plant and transferred to a female reproductive organ.

36. Seedling: A term referring to an infant plant that has just come to light.

Helpful gardening terms for beginners: young seedlings

37. Self pollinating: A plant that has the capability to reproduce by itself without the help of  other plants pollen.

38. Sow: Another way to describe planting a seed.

39. Stamen: The male fertilising organ of a flower.

40. Standard: A typical height to train types of tree or shrub to.

41. Weed: An admirably resilient plant that is widely undesired by all. Weeds have the ability to steal nutrients away from plants that we more commonly enjoy in order to survive.

42. Woody: A plant described as woody is one that’s stems produce wood as part of its natural make up. This woody feature enables these varieties of plant to better survive the harshness of winter.

Soil Terms for beginners

43. Acidity and Alkaline: These terms for beginners can be crucial for understanding which soil conditions suit your plants best. Acidity is referring to the PH (a scale that measures from 0-14) level of certain soils and whether they are more acidic (1-6)  in nature compared with neutral (7) or alkaline (8-14).

44. Clay: Soil that is composed with fine grains of clay minerals.

45. Compost: Compost is made up of organic matter that has decomposed. This matter often contains a plethora of nutrients that you can recycle to feed your plant.

46. Inorganic: Material that does not come from living matter.

47. Lime: A calcium compound that is usually added to soil to make it more alkaline.

48. Loam: Loam is a type of soil that is composed of three main elements: silt, sand and clay.

49. Mulch: A layer of organic residue that is applied to the surface of soil. A layer of mulch helps improve the quality of soil in several ways. This in turn helps to produce healthy, flourishing plants.

50. Organic: A material that has been naturally formed from living matter.

51. Sand: A large component mineral of most soils.

52. Silt: The sediment or soil of a fine clay or sand like material.

53. Soil: One of the more familiar terms for beginners that refers to the very top layer of the earth’s crust that is made of key minerals, air and water. It is the mixture of all these components that make planting possible.

54. Sludge: The delightful product of wastewater management that can be used as agricultural fertiliser.

55. Texture: The varying degrees of sand, silt and clay that are present in your soil.

56. Tilth: A way of describing the health of soil. Soil of a good quality  = in good tilth!

57. Vermiculite: A mineral that expands into numerous pellets under the correct heat conditions. It is particularly helpful in assisting plant growth by improving the moisture retention of your soil.

58. Waterlogged: Soil that has become completely drenched by water.

Gardening Technique Terms for Beginners

59. Chitting: A term used when growing potatoes. Chitting a potato means to place seed potatoes in a light, warm airy place to encourage sproutlings.

60. Cloche: A protective structure designs to protect plants from cold or severe weather.

61. Cold frame: An area of unheated soil intended for growing on. A good place to house hardy plants.

62. Cultivating: A process in which you prepare soil to welcome your plants. By breaking up the soil first you are helping soil drainage and aeration, improving plant growth.

63. Cutting: A method used by gardeners to create new life, this is achieved by taking a cutting from a more mature plant and placing it into soil to grow.

64. Dead Heading: Removing flowers that have faded and are now frail from your plant.

65. Direct sowing: Sowing seeds directly into the ground outside instead of starting them off in pots indoors.

66. Full sun: This refers to the length of sun exposure your plants receive. Full sun typically makes reference to a period of six hours.

67. Grafting: Joining one plant to the root of another skillfully so they eventually become one.

68. Hardening off: Steadily introducing plants to the great outdoors to assist them in adapting to cooler conditions.

69. Hardiness zone: Unique climate conditions that determine which plants will thrive in certain geographical locations.

70.  Horticulture: The art of combining science and nature to cultivate plants.

71. Hybrid: Cross breeding two different plants that have distinctive attributes.

72. Naturalised: Plants and seeds that grow as they would in the wild, without human interaction.

73. Pest: A general term used to classify a garden nuisance. This could be bacterial, viral or fungal.

74. Pesticide: A chemical solution designed to rid of the pests outlined above.

75. Pot on: To transfer a plant from one pot to another. Pot up refers to the initial planting of seedling or cutting.

76. Propagate: To grow plants!

77. Pruning: Pruning is one of the most fundamental terms for beginners which refers to the process of trimming or cutting back areas of a plant for health, training or aesthetic reasons. This is best achieved using pruning shears. For a more in depth look into this art, check out our Gardeners Guide to Pruning.

78. Raised bed: A plot created for planting that is elevated from ground level.

79. Side dressing: Adding small amounts of fertiliser to soil around the base of plants.

80. Staking: Using wooden sticks or rods to create supports for young plants to grow upright.

81. Thinning: The practice of moving seedlings that are growing in too close a proximity to each other so only the best plants survive.

82.Transplant: Moving a plant from its initial place of planting to a different home.

83. Trellis: An architectural structure composed of either wood, bamboo or metal that is both decorative and can be used to support and train plants such as roses.

And there you have it, our top 83 helpful gardening terms for beginners! We hope this article has provided you with all the answers you need. If however, a problem in your garden still has you stumped, our friendly professionals are more than happy to offer some re-leaf. 

Author: Emma Watson-Thomas

Content writer for Lloyd Tree Services.

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