Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gardening Terminology

I love to garden, however I have to confess that on occasion the terminology stumps me. This is because the pros have their own terminology and then I have the terminology that I learned growing up. Not to mention that gardening terminology can be confusing to those just starting out and it tends to be different at different levels. Whether you garden as a hobby, as an obsession or as a lifestyle knowing the basic terminology will make things easier for you.

The following list is what I have deemed are the top ten most common gardening terms that are essential to know for successful gardening at any level.

1.) Annual
     a.) annuus, -a, -um -- is the species designation that indicates annual

      b.) Is a plant that germinates, grow, flower, sets seed for self propagation (depending on type) and dies over a few month’s time. While this generally happens spring to fall, it can be done any time of year if the conditions are favorable.

     c.) The second type of annual is when a plant is treated as an annual. Generally they are grown as ornamentals. Gardner’s refer to many types of perennials, bulb, tropical plants and grasses are referred to as annuals.
     A good example of this is when you have a tropical plant like begonias, which are used as a bedding plant here in the Pacific Northwest as treated like an annual by most gardeners. However, if they were protected from frost they have the potential to grow indefinitely.

2.) Biennial
    This refers to plants that will require two full years to complete its life cycle. During the first season of growing is when the seed germinates, the plant grows, yet there are no blooms, it only produces foliage.
     As the second growing season progresses is when the plants will produce both foliage and flowers. The end of the season, the plants will set seed and die.
     When Biennials are allowed to reseed they have the ability to keep your garden in blooming flowers indefinitely.
     However, watch for biennials that do not reseed, but need to be started from grafts.

3.) Perennial
     Ah a misleading term because there are multiple definitions and it will depend on which plant it is associated with for which definition to apply.

     a.) General definition is it is a plant that lives for a number of years. Most perennials flower each year. Most gardeners use the term in reference to herbaceous perennial.
While not inaccurate it leaves out the shrubs, and trees that can also be classified as perennials.

     b.) Herbaceous perennial refers to non-woody plants that last anywhere from a few years to decades. While these plants generally die off in the winter they are not dead. The tops die but the roots are thriving below ground, storing up energy to return the following year freshly renewed. A good portion of the herbaceous perennials are evergreens, which do not really die off like there flower counter parts. This is especially true in areas where mild winters are the norm.

     c.) Short lived perennial is a term you will see. It is often used in reference to those perennials that will only live a few years. However a good portion of these plants survive due to their self seeding nature.

     d.) Woody perennial is used in reference to those plants that has hard instead of fleshy stems. They also generally bear buds that survive above ground in winter. Lilacs and rosemary are a great example of this type of perennial. Woody perennials are not usually self sowing and require a graft or cutting to propagate.

4.) Propagate
     The definition of propagate is the intentional production of new plants with or without gardener intervention for the constant production of new plants. This is accomplished either by the sowing of seeds, root cuttings, division of roots, layering, or grafting of the plant roots.

5.) Self seed or self sowing
     Is a term used to refer to plants that produce seeds and self germinate and grow without any intervention or care from a gardener.

6.) Seed Grown
     A simple term that means exactly what you would think it would. It is a plant grown from seeds. This is true seed propagation the new plant growth is not started from any vegetative propagation.

7.) Division
     Plants propagated by dividing the plant into two or more pieces. It is a successful division as long as each piece has a section of root and at least one bud.

8.) Grafting
     Is when you take two parts and combine them so they become one. This is generally accomplished by joining a bud or shoot from one plant onto the roots or trunk of another plant.

9.) Layering
     Is when you start a new plant by fastening a stem down to the ground and partially covering it with soil to induce roots to start growing. Once established it can be removed to form a new plant independent of the original. This process can be improved upon by making a diagonal cut half way thru the stem prior to burying the stem.

10.) Root Cutting
     The roots are used for propagation. Essentially you take an cut a piece of root place it in water and allow new roots to start. Once the new roots are started you then plant it in soil. This type of propagation is best for those plants that tend to have suckers, like blackberries and raspberries.

*You may be wondering what this has to do with the owners and designers of a jewelry studio.  The answer is simple; we both find a great deal of joy from spending time outdoors. Especially gardening, while we do garden both for pleasure and practical reasons the passion we have for it is the real joy. Being passionate about life provides a great deal of creative inspiration for our jewelry designs and we enjoy sharing the passion we have for life.

Next month I will be discussing more gardening terms. Do you have a term you would like deciphered or explained further? Any other gardening questions you would like answered?

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