Garden Glossary

Understanding basic gardening terms


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Garden Glossary brought to you by D&G Gardens and Crafts

  • Hardening off – The process of gradually introducing plants grown indoors to the light, temperature and other conditions of the outdoors.
  • Hardiness zone – A geographically defined area based on minimum temperatures over the course of a year. Each zone is defined by how many days that area receives at the lowest temperature. Zones range from 0 (the coldest area) to 12 (the warmest area). Knowing your hardiness zone can help determine if a plant can grow and thrive in your area.
  • Hardpan – A layer of hard soil or clay below the topsoil and below the subsoil that is nearly impossible to dig through without heavy equipment.
  • Hard-wood cutting - The act of cutting a piece of stem from a shrub after it has gotten woody in the hopes of rooting it to create new plants. This is usually done in mid-autumn and into late winter.
  • Hardy – A plant that can withstand freezing temperatures without damage.
  • Heading back – Cutting a branch of a plant back to a twig.
  • Heeling in – Placing a plant temporarily in a trench filled with soil to protect the roots until it is permanently planted.
  • Herbaceous – A plant with soft stems rather than woody stems.
  • Herbicide – A natural or synthetic substance that can kill or inhibit plant growth.
  • Heirloom – An open-pollinated plant that has remained unchanged, or that has retained it's original traits for at least 100 years. Seeds from heirloom plants will grow to be exactly the same as the original plant.
  • Honeydew – Sucking insects produce this sticky secretion along stems or leaves of plants.
  • Horticulture – The art and science of cultivating plants.
  • Humus – A highly complex substance, humus is generally categorized as fully composted material that is uniformly dark, with a sponge like consistency. Humus occurs after organic matter has composted for many years.
  • Hybrid - A new plant that is formed when the pollen of one plant is used to pollinate another entirely different plant.
  • Hydroponics – The science of growing plants in liquid rather than soils.



  • Layering – A way to propagate a plant by nicking the stem of a plant, securing it under soil while it is still attached to the plant and allowing it to grow roots from the damaged portion of the stem.
  • Leach – The loss of nutrients from the soil, usually by excess water.
  • Leaf mold – Partially decomposed leaves, used to improve soils.
  • Leggy – When a plant grows excessively tall and spindly due to lack of proper light.
  • Loam – A rich soil composed of sand, clay and organic matter.

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