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Common Gardening Terms

Are you new to gardening? or just coming across terms you haven't heard before? I've got you covered. Here's a list of common gardening terms to start you off as well as a small explanation.


  • Annual: A plant with a one year lifespan.

  • Perennial: A plant with a lifespan of over two years.

  • Biennial: A plant with the lifespan of two years.

  • Bolting: When the plant (a vegetable) produces flowers and goes to seed too early, it affects the taste of the fruit (tastes not great).

  • Chlorosis: Yellowing of leaves or loss of chlorophyll, usually due to disease, nutrient deficiency, or water issues.


a yellowing leaf
Leaf suffering from Chlorosis


  • Companion Planting: Planting different plants who benefit each other, usually adding nutrients to the soil the other needs.

  • Deadheading: Removing dead flowers or flowers that have begun to fade in order to encourage more blooms.

  • Determinate: Growing in a bush form (generally in regards to tomato plants)

  • Indeterminate: Growing in a vine form (again, generally in regards to tomato plants)

determinate tomato plant next to indeterminate one
Picture by wikihow


  • Dioecious: Plants that can produce both male and female flowers.

  • Dormancy: A plant's resting period. During this time there is no new growth. It is generally in winter, leaves may drop but it doesn't mean it is dead or dying.

  • Full sun: A plant that needs at least 6-8 hours of bright direct sunlight.

  • Part sun: Requires only 3-6 hours of sunlight.

  • Growing season: The time between the first and last frost dates of the year.

  • Hardening off: Helping indoor seedlings to slowly adjust to the outdoors before planting. Usually taking them outside for longer periods in succession.

  • Heirloom: An open pollinated variety of a plant that has remained the same for at least 50 years.

  • pH: A score between 0-14 that determines the alkalinity or acidity of soil. (acidity 0-7, alkalinity >7, or neutrality 7)

  • Stratification: Exposing seeds to moisture or cold to replicate winter and prompt the seeds to germinate. (Apple seeds have to be started this way)

  • Vermiculite: A light colored, spongy material that will hold both water and air. It is mixed with soil to increase water retention.



Hope this helps as you start your gardening journey this year!

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