Skip to main content

Read the list below for some gardening terms and their definitions to help you get started as a beginning grower!

Annual- A plant that completes its life cycle in one year- meaning you have to plant every year to continue to harvest.

Biennial- A plant that completes its life cycle in two years.

Blanch- To cover part or all of a plant so that no sunlight gets in, therefore stopping the process of photosynthesis. The stems and leaves become very pale and remain tender and sweet. Blanching can be done by hilling up soil around emerging shoots (ex. asparagus), or covering the center of a plant with the outer leaves by tying them together loosely with twine (ex. endive, escarole). Some plants are self-blanching.

Bolt- Occurs when a plant is exposed to excessive heat or sun. The plant produces seeds or flower instead of a crop. Example: When a lettuce bolts prematurely, the flower head in the center pops up and goes to seed, while the lettuce leaves turn bitter and inedible.

Dead heading- To cut or pinch off dead flowers.

Direct Sowing- Planting and germinating seeds directly in the ground where you want them to grow, as opposed to starting them indoors and transplanting.

Forcing- Making a plant grow outside of its regular season. Extra care and attentiveness are needed, paying close attention to temperature, moisture, and light.

Hardiness Zone- A zone determined by average temperature of your geographical location. There are 11 main zones, with subcategories of a and b (ex. Zone 7A or Zone 11B), which help to categorize which plants can grow in certain areas. To find your hardiness zone, click here.

Heirloom- An open-pollinated variety that has remained unchanged (not hybridized) for at least 50-100 years.

Horticulture- The science of cultivating plants.

Hybrid- A plant variety that has been crossbred from two or more plants of different parent varieties with different characteristics in order to create a more “desirable” plant.

Open pollination- Plants with seeds that develop through natural pollination. Example: Wind, insects, or animals.

Ornamental- A plant grown for aesthetic purposes, rather than for eating.

Overwinter- When a cold-hardy plant is planted in the fall and lives to spring to be harvested; lasts “over winter”.

Perennial- Plants that live for multiple seasons/years.

Raised Bed- A garden bed that has been elevated, which allows for warmer soil and better drainage.

Staking- To put some form of a stake into the ground next to a plant to provide it support while it is growing.

Thinning- To remove excess seedlings (often the weak or dying ones) in order to provide more room, oxygen, and sunlight to the remaining seedlings, allowing them to thrive.

Transplant- To remove plant seedlings or plants from one place and plant them somewhere else. Example: Many seeds need to be started indoors in small cells of soil, but as they grow and need more space, they must be transplanted in a larger pot or in the ground.

Trellis- A form of support for climbing plants. Example, a wide-windowed net to support Morning Glory and beans, or stakes and twine to support a tomato plant.