Garden Glossary

Understanding basic gardening terms


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

  • Tap root – A long, thick root that grows straight down into the soil. Not all plants have tap roots.
  • Tender plants – Plants that cannot endure freezing temperatures or frost.
  • Tendril – A twisty, clingy part of a vine that helps plants attach itself to walls or trellises.
  • Thatch – A layer of dead stems found under lawn grasses, generally caused by over watering and over fertilizing. Thatch can be removed by special equipment to allow for better water and fertilizer absorption into the soil.
  • Thinning – In the case of seedlings, thinning is removing excess plants to allow the remaining plants to grow and thrive. In the case of pruning, thinning refers to removing entire branches from the interior of a tree or shrub to allow for better air flow and growth.
  • Top-dress – To add soil amendments, such as compost or fertilizers around a plant, on top of the soil.
  • Top growth – The foliage or stems of a plant that grow above the soil or water line.
  • Topiary – A way of training a plant to grow in certain shapes, usually accomplished by pruning.
  • Topsoil – The top layer of soil. The term is also used when selling soil by garden centers or landscapers, either by the bag, yard or truck load.
  • Transpiration – The act of releasing moisture through a plants leaves.
  • Transplant – Digging up a plant and moving it to a new location. This term is also commonly used when removing plants from their containers and planting them in the garden.
  • Transplant shock – Some plants will experience shock after being transplanted. This shock may slow growth or even cause death. You can reduce transplant shock by moving plants when they are young or when they are dormant.
  • Trellis – A structure plants can use to climb up rather than spreading along the ground. Trellises can save space in the garden or allow you to more enjoy a plants blooms.
  • Tuber – An enlarged underground stem from which a plant grows that stores all the plant’s food and energy before it sprouts above the soil’s surface. See also tuberous root and stem tubers.
  • Tuberous root – Several enlarged underground stems (or roots) that store the plant’s food and energy.



  • Variegated – Leaves that are multi-colored.
  • Vermiculite – A sterile soil amendment formed when ‘mica’, a mineral, is heated until it expands like popcorn. It is added to sterile potting mixes to help it retain moisture and to make the soil lighter in weight to allow for more air within the soil. Vermiculite can also be used to make Hypertufa.
  • Waterlogged – When the soil is totally saturated with water so that water puddles on the top of the soil for extended periods of time. Most plants cannot withstand waterlogged soils for too long or their roots may rot and the plant will die.
  • Water soluable fertilizer - fertilizer that should be disolved in water before applying to the plant or soil.

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