Glossary of Gardening Terms

Glossary of Gardening Terms

Whether you’re new to gardening or have tons of experience, you can’t go wrong with familiarizing yourself with a few basic gardening terms. We’ve put together a wide list of all the different terms you might come across in your gardening adventures. Enjoy and happy planting!

Acidic Soil

Soil that ranks below a 7 on a PH scale of 1 to 14. Usually referred to as “sour soil” by gardeners.

Alkaline Soil

Soil that ranks above a 7 on a PH scale of 1 to 14. Usually referred to as “sweet soil” by gardeners.

Apartment Gardening

The usage of space in an apartment to grow your own food, typically on a windowsill, hanging basket, or shelf. For more info please check our Apartment Gardening Guide.

Balcony Gardening

A garden consisting of fruits and vegetables grown on balconies or roofs.


Dormant plants sold without a pot, typically only available during the winter season. Bare-rooted plants should be soaked before potting and never left out to dry. The most commonly found bare-rooted plants are fruit trees, strawberries, roses, raspberries, and asparagus.

Beneficial Insect

Insects that provide beneficial services to your garden by pollinating or acting as a natural pesticide.


The ability of organic matter or material made with organic matter to naturally break down through bacteria or fungi.

Bokashi Composting

A composting system where inoculated bran is used to ferment food waste into soil and nutrient-rich tea for plants.


When a plant goes to seed, usually indicating the end of new leaf growth. Growing vegetables quickly and efficiently will help reduce the chances of the plant bolting before they produce a sufficient amount of vegetables.

Clay Soil

Soil is comprised of many grains in a powdered-like consistency that turns sticky when wet. Clay soil helps anchor plant roots in the soil, which is best for many plants that can’t get a firm grip with their roots alone.

Community Garden

The shared area where community members can come together to grow and harvest plants.


A mix of decayed organic matter used as a fertilizer for plants. Anything that grows naturally can be composted. Composting is great to reduce food waste while providing your plants with beneficial nutrients that help them grow.

Compost Bin

A bin designated for garden and organic waste to form compost.

Compost Tea

A nutrient-rich liquid formed from soaking compost in water and extracting the liquid.

Compost Tumbler

A container that can be spun to mix composting ingredients. In the right temperature, season, and right balance between carbon and nitrogen, waste can take up to 3 weeks to fully turn into compost in a tumbler. If the weather is cold or wet, however, it could take much longer.

Container Gardening

The usage of containers to grow plants instead of the ground. Container gardens are best for their mobility if you can’t start a garden in the ground. Many different plants can be grown in a container garden like blueberries, sunflowers, and winterberries.

Crop Rotation

The action of growing a range of crops in a sequence on the same soil to prevent soil depletion.


Types of plants that have been bred, or artificially modified, for certain qualities. There are many types of cultivars including apples, cucumber, onion, pears, olives, and more.

Direct Seeding

The direct planting of pre-germinated seeds onto the soil surface. Root crops such as parsnips, carrots, and radishes should be directly sewn for better quality, however, most plants don’t need to be.

Disease Resistance

The ability of a plant to mitigate the damage by a pathogen.


A plant, usually a fruit tree or shrub, that’s trained to grow on a support such as a trellis or a wall.


A natural or artificial substance used to increase plant growth and productivity. The fertilizer you use is dependent on the type of crop you’re growing and what nutrients it needs.


The part of a plant that possesses the reproductive structures necessary to pollinate.

Foliar Feed

A nutrient-containing material sprayed to a plant’s leaves. This can help nutrients stick to the leaves and then be absorbed by the leaves.

Frugal Gardening

The concept of using innovative ways to spend less money when gardening. This can be done by using items that you already have, like containers, and DIY.


A small plot of land where fruits, vegetables, herbs, or flowers are grown.

Garden Bed

A type of gardening in which soil is enclosed between a confining structure.

Garden Soil Preparation

The preparation of the soil before sowing the seeds. Done by loosening or tilling the soil.


Someone who cultivates and maintains a garden, either by employment or for leisure.


The action of planting, growing and tending to a garden.


A technique used to connect the tissue of two plants so they can grow together. This can be done by making cutting a hole in one plant and placing another into it. This can’t be done with every plant.

Grass Clippings

The chopped grass left behind (or collected by grass catcher) by a mower. Grass clippings can be used to make your own hay for pets.

Green Manure

Crops that are turned into soil to supply it with nutrients and enhance its quality. Different kinds of legumes, grasses, and wheat can be used.

Growing Medium

A substance that plant roots use to develop and collect water and minerals. Growing mediums have a few different requirements for best use including holding enough nutrients, providing air space for the roots, and being free of pests and weeds.

Growing Season

The time of the year that best suits plant growth based on rainfall and temperature. Before growing plants, it’s important to know what season they grow in best, otherwise, your crops may not grow to their best ability.

Heirloom Plants

Plants grown in remote areas or by ethnic groups. These plants were more common in earlier times and are now only used by ethnic groups.

Heirloom Vegetables

An ancient cultivar that preexisted before modern farming.

Herb Gardening

A garden devoted entirely to the cultivation of herbs.

Homemade Organic Fertilizer

Fertilizer made from organic materials found near the home such as grass clippings, weeds, kitchen scraps, etc.

Hybrid Plant

The outcome of cross-pollinating two distinct plant types and nurturing the seed produced by the mix. Commonly known hybrid plants include coconut, mandarin, coffee, and much more.


The method of growing plants without the use of soil in other mediums such as perlite, rock wool, expanded clay pebbles, or liquid with the required nutrients. Visit our Hydroponics For Beginners guide to learn more.

Indoor Gardening

The practice of cultivating food in your own house.

Integrated Pest Management (Ipm)

A method for dealing with pest concerns while posing the least amount of risk to human health and the environment.


A technique of cultivating multiple crops in close vicinity. Used for increased crop yields and more easily controlling weeds.

Lawn Grass

Grass planted over land covered in soil for personal aesthetic and enjoyment.

Leaf Mould

Produced once the gradual activity of fungus decomposes leaves into soil conditioner. Is most often used as potting mix, mulch, seed compost, and soil conditioner.

Liquid Fertilizers

A liquid that contains the proper nutrients for plants to enhance growth. It also aids in preventing disease and insect infestations in plants. Find out how to make your own liquid fertilizer from seaweed.


Young vegetable greens produced from vegetables or herbs. Microgreens contain many more nutrients than adult plants and are commonly used in the kitchen for more flavor. They can be harvested within 1 to 2 weeks. Common vegetables include kale, broccoli, and red cabbage.


Used to coat the soil’s surface to minimize frost during winter, maintain soil moisture, and control weeds.

Native Plant

A plant that has formed naturally in a certain location, environment, or habitat.


Minerals that give sustenance for development and survival. When a plant takes up water, it absorbs nutrients from the soil through its roots.


When natural occurrences such as wind, insects, people, or birds pollinate flowers. Open-pollination can lead to more variety among plant populations, allowing plants to gradually adapt to local growth circumstances and environment every year.

Organic Gardening

The action of growing plants without the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Instead of using chemical fertilizer as conventional gardening does, organic gardening use manure and compost to nourish the soil.

Organic Material

Everything that was once living and then buried in or on the ground. Adding organic material to your garden can help retain water in the soil, allowing you to water less frequently.

Organic Matter

Substances derived from the remnants of living organisms.

Organic Soil

A nutrient-rich soil created by the breakdown of plant and animal components. The extra nutrients can aid in reducing pests and disease from affecting your plant, reducing the requirement for pesticides or chemicals.

Parent Plant

A plant that has pollinated and grew more plants with the same characteristics.

Perennial Plant

A plant with a lifespan of over two years. Perennial plants usually require low maintenance and are great if you’re looking for long-lasting plants.


A metric for determining how acidic or basic water is. The soil’s pH is important in determining which fertilizers and nutrients the plant will absorb.


A living organism with roots, leaves, and a stem that grows in the ground.

Plant Growth

The development of a plant in volume and/or mass. Plants growth is best supported by nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium with the right amount of water and sunlight.

Potting Soil

A mixture of ingredients used to grow plants in pots. Potting soil is different from a potting mix in that it has some dirt in it. It’s beneficial to plants in that it provides them oxygen and extra nutrients.


The procedure for developing new plants from the parent plant. It involves cutting a piece of a plant and potting it. The plant can be grown in either water or soil, but most plants grow best in soil.

Root Crops

Crops that grow underground from their roots. This includes carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potato, ginger, yams, and much more.

Seaweed Extract

Used in fertilizers for extra nutrients for plant growth. Seaweed extract can be found as a liquid or even made at home by grinding dried seaweed and placing it around the plant.


Mature ovules used for sowing to develop another plant.

Seed Planting

When a plant reproduces by the germination of seeds.


A new plant that has been grown from seed rather than a clipping. The seedling is the shoot with a few leaves that have grown after planting a seed.


Organic substance traced with minerals that act as a natural substrate for the development of plants.

Soil Amendment

Any substance used to enhance the physical characteristics of soil. Compost and manure are most commonly used as soil amendment and provide beneficial nutrients.

Soil Structure

The manner in how particular clay and sand particles are put together.

Soil Test

The examination of soil to assess certain properties like pH level and nutrient level. Soil tests are important for many reasons including increasing crop yields and reducing contamination from excess fertilizer.


The germination and development of a plant. Sprouts can be harvested within 3 to 5 days, don’t require any, and are grown in water.


To import and grow a plant in a different location. Transplanting can be beneficial for quite a few reasons including when you want to start a new garden, when you’re not growing the best tasting fruits anymore, and when your plants stop producing.

Urban Gardening

The practice of cultivating a variety of plants in an urban setting. They are most commonly grown in containers, so they can be moved and placed around your rooftop or balcony.


A food-producing plant or component of a plant.

Please let us know if there are any other gardening terms you would like to see on this list.

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