Garden Glossary

Understanding basic gardening terms


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

  • Macro nutrients – An element or nutrient that is needed in large amounts for normal healthy growth. Examples would include carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.
  • Manure – Dung or excrement from animals used to fertilize soils after it has composted for a short time. Do not use manure from meat eating animals. Also, manure should be composted for several months before using it on plants.
  • Micro climate – A variation in climate influenced by hills, valleys, structures or bodies of water. For example, an area next to your home on the south side of your house, that gets sun, will be consistently warmer most of the year than other parts of your yard.
  • Micro nutrients – Also known as trace elements, these nutrients are only needed in small quantities. They include chromium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc.
  • Mulch – A loose material, either organic or synthetic, placed on the soil to conserve moisture in the soil, control weeds, and in the case of organic mulch, enrich the soil as it breaks down. Read more here.
  • Native plant – A plant that naturally grows in a specific region and was not imported from another area of the world or country.
  • Naturalize – To grow plants randomly, without a plan or pattern. A common example is when people plant early spring flowering bulbs in the lawn so that it looks more natural, like something found in nature.
  • Node – A place on the stem of a plant where a leaf, branch, root or flower might grow.



  • Open pollination – Pollination performed by birds, insects and the wind without interference from humans.
  • Organic – A way to garden using materials derived from living organisms, such as compost or manure.
  • Ornamental – A plant or object that is strictly used for looks or decoration rather than for a specific purpose.
  • Peat moss – Partially decomposed moss used to improve soil's water retention. Peat moss is not recommended for clay soils.
  • Perennial – A non-woody plant that lives more than two years. Depending on your weather, it may or may not die back in the winter.
  • Perlite – A natural volcanic glass that when heated turns into fluffy, light-weight granules used as an aggregate or added to potting soil to make it light-weight and compact resistance. Perlite can also be used when making Hypertufa.
  • Pest – An animal or insect that is detrimental to the well-being of other animals and plants.
  • Pesticide - A natural or synthetic substance that can kill or repel animals or insects.
  • pH – In gardening, it is the measurement of how alkaline or acidic the soil is. Water and other substances have a specific pH as well.
  • Photosynthesis – Using light as an energy source, it is the process of plants converting carbohydrates and water (hydrogen) into an energy source. Oxygen is usually the byproduct of photosynthesis.
  • Pinching back – Using your thumb and finger to nip off the tip of a branch to promote fuller plant growth.
  • Pistil – The female organ of a flower which includes the stigma, style and ovary.
  • Pollination – The transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower, the stamen, to the to the female part of the flower, the pistil.
  • Potting soil – A light-weight, sterile soil mix specifically for container gardening.
  • Propagation – A way to start new plants either by way of seeds, cuttings or layering.
  • Pruning – The cutting of plant material to remove dead plant material or to control the size or shape of a plant.

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