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Module 1: Gardening Terminology For Beginners

Gardening is a wonderful hobby that offers many benefits, from enhancing your outdoor space’s beauty to providing fresh produce to enjoy. However, like any new endeavour, gardening comes with its own terminology that can overwhelm beginners.

In this module, we will explore the top gardening terminology you’ll need to know to give you the confidence to start your gardening journey. We’ll cover the basic terms relating to plants, soil, and gardening tools, which will help you understand the fundamental concepts of gardening. By the end of this lesson, you’ll have a good grasp of the essential terminology and be well on your way to becoming a more confident and knowledgeable gardener.

Gardening terminology
Gardening Terminology

Gardening Quiz

Before we take a look at some basic terms, we thought you might want to test your knowledge with a quick quiz that includes some common gardening terms – this is just for fun and provides a good benchmark that you can use to measure your progress at the end of the course. We don’t expect any beginner to get a perfect score, so don’t worry if you struggle to answer some questions; give them your best guess.

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Your quiz is done - how did you get on? We mixed up the questions, so some are hard if you don't know much about gardening. As you work your way through this course, you'll come across plenty of gardening terms. The next step is to get your head around a few before our next lesson.

Garden terminology finder

At the start of the course, we thought it best to include a tool that will help introduce you to some key garden terminology. We'll keep updating with more terms, so you may want to keep this page bookmarked and refer back to it in the future. Feel free to browse through the terms by selecting the various letters.

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Acclimation
Plants beginning to adjust to cooler conditions. Frequently utilised in spring before establishing out plants that have been developing inside. Used alongside the phrase "Hardening off."

Aerate
Compact soil is typically loosened using a garden fork to allow air to enter and is also known for aerating lawns.

Annual
A plant that completes its lifecycle in one year. Growing from seed to maturity, flowers produce seeds and die within a single year.

Aphid
Aphids are greenflies and blackflies, tiny sap-sucking insects that are frequently found on beans and roses. Although they can harm plants, most of them are harmless.

Bareroot
Plants with no soil surrounding their roots are dug out of the ground in autumn or winter (when they are "dormant"). Trees, bushes and roses are often sold along these lines.

Biennial
A plant with a two-year life cycle typically begins with the growth of leaves and stems in the first year and ends with flowers and seeds in the second year.

Biodegradable 
A material that can naturally decompose in the environment without leaving behind any harmful residues, typically within a year or less.

Bulb
A scale-like, fleshy underground storage organ from which the plant flowers and grows before going dormant

Chitting
Seed potatoes should be planted in a tray or egg box that is bright, cool, and free of frost to encourage sprouting before planting.

Cloche
Over a plant, a structure made of glass, plastic, or horticultural fleece over a plant is placed to protect the plant or force early crops.

Cold frame
A frame without a heater for growing and acclimating hardy and half-hardy plants outside.

Companion planting
The practice of planting two or more distinct species of plants together to share nutrients, shade, and control pests for both parties.

Compost
A mixture of organic materials that have broken down into a rich, soil-like substance that is great for feeding plants, such as food scraps, grass clippings, and leaves.

Crown
The point at which a plant produces new shoots, usually just below the soil's surface.

Cultivar
A plant bred or chosen by growers for its distinctive flowers, leaf colour, growth pattern, etc. It differs from the original species because it has distinct and uniform characteristics.

Deadhead
The process of removing dead flowers from a plant to promote new growth and additional blooms.

Deciduous
A plant that annually sheds its leaves.

Direct sow
Rather than starting seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, plant them directly into the soil.

Drought tolerant 
It is a plant that thrives on little water, ideal for areas with limited water supply or little rainfall.

Earth up
To draw soil around a plant to reject light, safeguard it from ice or urge roots to grow from the stem. Potato crops are commonly used in this manner.

Ericaceous
Used to refer to plants that thrive in acidic soil but cannot tolerate alkaline soil, which contains chalk or lime.

F1 Hybrid
Original posterity got from rearing two unmistakable thoroughbred lines. They are uniform, vigorous plants. F1 Hybrid seeds will not produce their parents' desired results.

Fertiliser
A substance is added to the soil to give it the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium plants need to grow.

Fungicide
A substance that is utilised to control or prevent plant fungal diseases

Germination
The process by which a seed emerges and begins to develop into a plant.

Grafting
A method by which one plant's stem or branch is joined to another plant's rootstock, typically to produce a stronger or more desirable plant.

Half-hardy annual
A plant goes through the life cycle's growth, reproduction, and death phases in a single season. It can be grown outside, but it needs to be protected from frost and cold temperatures in the winter.

Half-hardy biennial
A plant whose life cycle is completed in two years, with growth in the first year and reproduction and death in the second. It can be grown outside but needs to be protected from frost and cold temperatures in the winter.

Half-hardy Bulb/ corm/ rhizome/ tuber
A plant that grows from an underground storage organ. Typically provided without any top growth and in a dormant state. It can be grown outside, but it needs to be protected from frost and cold temperatures in the winter.

Half-hardy perennial
A plant that is more than two years old. It can be grown outside, but it needs to be protected from frost and cold temperatures in the winter.

Half-hardy tree/ shrub
A woody plant that typically has a permanent structure of branches. It can be grown outside, but it needs to be protected from frost and cold temperatures in the winter.

Harden off
Before transplanting indoor-grown plants, the process of gradually acclimating them to the outdoor environment.

Hardy annual
A plant goes through the life cycle's growth, reproduction, and death phases in a single season. Equipped for enduring outside winter temperatures down to -15C.

Hardy biennial
A plant whose life cycle is completed in two years, with growth in the first year and reproduction and death in the second. Able to withstand outdoor winter temperatures as low as -15 degrees

Hardy Bulb/ corm/ rhizome/ tuber
A plant that grows from an underground storage organ. Typically provided without any top growth and in a dormant state. Able to withstand outdoor winter temperatures as low as -15 degrees

Hardy perennial
A plant that is more than two years old. Able to withstand outdoor winter temperatures as low as -15 degrees

Hardy tree/ shrub
A woody plant that typically has a permanent structure of branches. Equipped for enduring outside winter temperatures down to - 15C.

Heirloom
It is a plant variety handed down from generation to generation and prised for its history, distinctive features, and frequently superior flavour or flower.

Herbaceous plant
A non-woody perennial plant with underground rootstocks or a woody base that typically dies in the winter and goes into dormancy. Spring is when growth begins again.

Humus
A dark organic material that comes from animal and plant matter that has been broken down and is rich in nutrients and good for the health of the soil.

Hybrid
A type of plant that is the result of crossing two or more different plants.

Loopers
A pruning instrument with long handles and a detour or blacksmith's iron cutting edge, utilised for managing thick branches and stems.

Mulch
A layer of organic material is added to the soil around plants, like leaves, bark, or straw, to help keep moisture in the soil, get rid of weeds, and control the temperature of the soil.

Mulching
The process of covering the soil around plants with a layer of organic or inorganic material to help keep moisture in, keep temperatures in check, and get rid of weeds.

Nitrogen Fixation
The process by which some plants, like legumes, convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form that other plants can use.

Organic
A term used to depict planting rehearses that depend on normal techniques and materials, for example, manure and regular nuisance control, as opposed to manufactured synthetic compounds.

Organic matter 
Any substance that contributes to the structure and fertility of the soil and is derived from living or once-living organisms, such as compost, manure, or leaf litter.

Perennial
A plant that lives for a long time and typically grows new growth from its root system every year.

pH
A number from 1 to 14, with seven being neutral, of the soil's acidity or alkalinity.

Pinching out
Removing a young plant's growing points to encourage the formation of side shoots. This encourages more flowering stems and a bushy growth habit.

Pollination
The process by which pollen moves from a male to a female plant so that many plants can produce fruit.

Propagation
The act of reproducing plants, such as by planting seeds, dividing clumps, or cuttings.

Prune
Removing dead, damaged, or overgrown branches from a plant to encourage healthy growth.

Raised bed
A method of gardening in which plants are grown in raised beds, typically made of bricks or wooden boards, above the ground.

Rootbound
A condition in which a plant has outgrown its container and has crowded its roots, possibly leading to wilt or death.

Rootstock
The part of a plant that is below ground and contains the roots. A plant is joined to a desirable rootstock in grafting, frequently to encourage a dwarfing habit.

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Seedling
A seed-grown young plant that typically only grows a few inches tall.

Self-fertile
A plant that does not require the pollen of a second person to fertilise and bear fruit.

Soil
The foundation for plant growth comprises minerals, organic matter, and air.

Specimen plant
Typically, a tree or shrub that has grown in a prominent location where it can be observed from a variety of perspectives.

Thinning
The process of removing some of the plants or seedlings from a crowded bed or container gives the remaining plants more space to grow.

Top dressing
Mulching the soil's surface with fertiliser, such as compost, manure, or synthetic fertiliser.

Topsoil
The soil in which you plant into. In contrast to the subsoil, which has very little nutritional value, it is the portion of the soil with the most nutrients.

Vermicomposting
A method of composting in which worms decompose organic material, resulting in worm castings, is a nutrient-rich soil amendment.

Waterlogged
Used to depict plants, typically filling in pots, which are totally lowered in water.

Weed
An undesirable plant that can harm the garden and competes with other plants for resources.

Weeding
The process of removing undesirable plants or weeds from a container or garden bed to lessen resource competition and boost the health of desired plants.

Wilting
Used to describe plants that have shrunk and fallen over, usually due to insufficient water, frost, or a fungal disease.

Xeriscaping
A kind of finishing that utilises drought-tolerant plants and different procedures to preserve water

Xylem
The component of a plant's vascular system conveys nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves and stems.

Yellowing 
A condition in which the leaves of a plant turn yellow, typically indicating a lack of nutrients or other problems.

Yield
The quantity of crops or produce produced by a plant or garden bed is is typically expressed in weight or volume.

Coming Soon

That's it for today. Hopefully, you will have picked up one or two useful terms that you can take with you into the lessons ahead. Keep referring to this page if you ever need to understand more gardening terminology.

Updated on March 5, 2024

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