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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWB chapter.

When beginning to get into gardening, the terminology can be intimidating. That’s why I’ve collected some of the most prevalent terms to help ease the confusion and frustration of learning about gardening.


Related to Soil

·         Clay – soil type identified by heavy moisture and high density

·         Compost – fertilizer type made from organic material that has decomposed

·         Fertilizer – plant “food” or soil additive to help encourage plant growth and high produce yield

·         Loamy – soil type identified by its ideal mixture of sand, clay, and silt; a well-rounded soil with many textures and lots of nutrients

·         Manure – fertilizer type made from animal excrement, usually cow or chicken

·         pH – measurement of how acidic or non-acidic soil is; pH is referring to the pH scale and is important because different plants like different kinds of soil acidity

·         Sandy – soil type identified by high amounts of sand and difficulty retaining moisture

Related to Plant Growth

·         Determinate – plant that has a predictable size and will stop producing flowers and new shoots after a certain point, usually mentioned on the seed packet or the plant tag

·         Full Sun – plant that requires more than six hours of daytime sunlight (daytime usually constitutes an hour after sunrise to two hours before sunset, when the sun is higher in the sky)

·         Germination – amount of time and conditions under which a seed will sprout

·         Indeterminate – plant that generally does not stop growing until the season is over and continues to flower until the end of its lifespan

·         Open-Pollinated – refers to a plant that is ideally pollinated only by natural methods like bugs or small birds rather than human intervention

·         Propagating – creating roots on a cutting of a plant through moisture and/or growth serum

·         Seedling – small plant start or beginning growth of a plant

Related Plant Care

·         Companion Planting – planting method that refers to planting specific combinations of plants that complement each other, such as the traditional “Three Sisters” of corn, beans, and squash; for more info, please refer to this guide from Mother Earth News

·         Cuttings – sections of plants that can be removed from the main plant and rooted in water, wet soil, or a growth serum before becoming their own, independent plant

·         Dead-Heading – trimming off dead sections of a plant to help encourage new growth

·         Direct Seeding – planting seeds directly into the ground rather than starting them indoors and transplanting them outdoors later

·         Hardening Off – slowly easing seedlings from being dependent on indoor lighting and warmth to the lower temperatures and uneven light of the outdoors; for more info, please refer to this guide from Mother Earth News

·         Root-Bound – referring to an overabundance of roots that inhibit the plant’s ability to grow properly, also indicating that it needs to be transplanted

·         Transplanting – moving a plant from one container to another container or directly into the ground; for more info, please refer to this guide from Mother Earth News

·         Trellis – support for plants that is usually made out of wood or metal and is shaped into a large grid

·         Under-Planting – planting method that involves planting shorter plants under taller plants, such as planting squash under corn stalks

Related to Plant Types

·         Annual – plant that only lives one year

·         Bare-Root – plant that is sold without dirt, usually rhizomes

·         Biennial – plant that lives for two years

·         Bulb – plant sold as a large “seed” that grows by sending roots from the bottom and a new shoot from the top and that needs to be planted completely underground

·         Heirloom – plants and seeds that have been cultivated naturally through using the open-pollination method

·         Herbaceous – plant that dies back in the winter and appears completely dead but will sprout new growth in the spring

·         Hybrid – cross of two plant types with the goal of having mainly positive traits from both parent plants, such as dwarf snap peas that don’t need a high trellis but still produce a lot of pea pods

·         Perennial – plant that returns every year with new growth

·         Rhizomes – plant that grows through sending out underground shoots and new roots (common examples include strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, horsetails, and buttercups)

·         Shade-Loving – plant that requires shade for at least several hours of the day, not including after the sun has set

·         Woody – plant that does not die back in the winter, although it may lose some of its leaves

Annika G.R. Bunney is an interdisciplinary creator focusing on traditional writing, nature-based creations, and assorted textual pieces. She is a second-year in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington, Bothell. Her ever-evolving work draws on classic literature, folklore, and mass media. When not working on academics, she can be found taking care of her many cats and playing with her rescue dog. She also loves wandering in the outdoors, curling up with a good book, or playing video games.