Understanding basic gardening terms
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- Acidic Soil – Soil measuring a pH below 7.0. pH can be raised by adding lime to the soil, in small amounts, over a period of time. Plants may not be able to absorb nutrients from the soil if the soil pH is too low or too high, however some plants may grow better in an acidic soil.
- Acre – A way to measure land. An acre totals 43,560 square feet.
- Aerate – Loosening the soil to allow better water absorption. This can be done with a gardening fork, hoe, shovel or with a special aerating machine that actually removes small plugs of soil to allow the water to get through.
- Air layering – A method of plant propagation where you place specific cuts into the bark of a tree or shrub to get new roots to grow.
- Alkaline Soil – Soil measuring a pH of above 7.0. pH can be lowered by adding sulfur to the soil, in small amounts over a period of time. Plants may not be able to absorb nutrients from the soil if the soil pH is too low or too high, however some plants may grow better in an alkaline soil.
- Annual – A plant that sprouts, grows and dies in one growing season or year.
- Aquatic plants – Plants that grow in water.
- Bare root – Plants that are dug from the ground while they are still dormant (not actively growing). The soil is removed from their roots and they are generally placed in plastic bags for shipping. Bare root plants should be soaked in water for a few hours and then planted in soil immediately upon receiving the plants.
- Biennial – A plant that sprouts, and grows leaves in the first year and generally flowers, goes to seed and dies by the end of the second year.
- Bonsai – An ancient art of growing, training and pruning plants in containers that remain dwarf in size.
- Bolting – When a plant grown for its leaves suddenly produces flowers and then those flowers turn to seed. This can happen at the end of a plant's life cycle or can be brought on prematurely by excessive heat.
- Botanical name – The scientific name for a plant. i.e. Alcea rosea is commonly known as hollyhock.
- Bulb – A fleshy underground stem that contains food for the shoot within. Most bulbs can multiply underground to create more plants. Examples would be crocus, daffodil, tulips and hyacinth.