Gardening Glossary

This is a gardening glossary. So it’s an explanation of gardening terms used  by gardeners, plantsmen and horticulturalists. And here on the Plews website, of course, in the Plews Potting Shed blogs.

This idea, I have to say, came out of conversations with our clients and our web designer/ developer.

The glossary first appeared in our eBooks, but we have developed it and will continue to add to it.

So here is Plews’ home grown version of Wikipedia and the encyclopaedia Britannica from a gardening perspective. We hope it makes your gardening life easier…

Do you need more information and gardening explanation? And find out how it relates to you and to your own garden? You could find that Gardening Lessons from Plews may help even more!

garden planting design - plant list



  • Aquaponics

    Aquaponics is a water based crop cultivation system

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  • Aeroponics

    Aeroponics is a soil less growing method of growing crops

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  • Acid soil

    Acid soil has a pH of below 7 and is generally high in nitrogen. It is sometimes known as an ericaceous soil or peat soil.

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  • Annuals

    Annuals are plants that are sown, grow, flower, fruit, set seed and die in one growing season.

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  • Alkaline Soil

    Alkaline soil has a pH of above 7 and is most common in chalk and clay soils.

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  • Biological Diversity

    Biological diversity refers to the variation within and between plant and animal species in a habitat. Species diversity is crucial for many important natural processes. For example, the nitrogen cycle requires many different species of fungi and bacteria to break down organic matter and convert it into the nitrates needed by plants for growth.

  • Bi-ennials

    Bi-ennials are plants which take two years to grow before producing seeds, flowering or growing fruit.

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  • Bare root

    This is when dormant plants and trees are sold and transported with no soil around their roots.

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  • Black Spot

    Black spot, Diplocarpon rosae, is probably the most common disease found on roses and the one most people will recognise as a problem. It is a fungal disease.

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  • Coppicing

    Coppicing is an ancient method of growing trees which increases the amount of tree stems (and therefore wood) growing from a single stool, or trunk.
    This allows poles of wood to be harvested every 3-15 years depending on the desired diameter of the poles or stems.

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  • Companion planting

    This is a method of planting where two or more different species of plants grown together will benefit each other’s productivity.

    Companion planting is essential for any successful organic garden.

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  • Compost

    Compost is a term generally used to describe organic garden material

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  • Deciduous

    Deciduous trees and shrubs shed their leaves over a part of the year, usually winter, to reduce external stresses during cold or dry periods.


  • Espalier

    Espalier is a method of growing trees by tying branches and foliage onto a flat upright frame. This is done for ornamental effect, e.g. to line a path or to maximise productivity in a small area, e.g. in a kitchen garden.

  • Ephemerals

    Ephemerals are plants which germinate, grow, flowers, set seed and die many times within one growing season or year.

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  • Fertilise

    To improve the mineral content of soil by adding chemical compounds or composted materials.

  • Forest Gardening

    Forest Gardening is a sustainable growing system

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  • Grafting

    Grafting is where two different plants have been joined together.

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  • Genus

    What is a genus? The genus is the first part of a plant’s botanical name used to properly describe it.

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  • Hardening Off

    Hardening off plants is where tender plants such as seedlings, half hardy annuals and young plants are gradually exposed to cooler, more exposed conditions.

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  • Hardy annual

    A hardy annual – hardy annual plant, hardy annuals – is the term used to describe a flower, salad plant or vegetable that is sown from seed, where the seed is sown directly into the outside border where the flowers are to bloom or the crop to grow.

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  • Hydroponics

    Hydroponics is a method of growing plants, whereby soil is replaced by nutrient and oxygen rich water.

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  • Herbaceous perennials

    Herbaceous perennials are ornamental plants which grow during spring and summer then die back over-winter to re-sprout the following year.

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  • Organic Matter

    Organic matter (OM) is the dead and rotting matter from plants, animals and waste food. Another term for compost, it provides nutrients and structure to soil.


  • pH

    The pH of a soil indicates how acid or alkaline that soil is; it is measured on a numerical scale of 1 – 14. The acidity and alkalinity of a soil affects the plants which may be successfully grown in that soil.

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  • Picturesque Style of Landscape Gardening

    The Picturesque Style of Landscape Gardening, was an eighteenth century movement to enhance gardens and landscapes and turn them into a vista worthy of being painted – The Garden as Art.

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  • Perennials

    Plants are perennials if they live longer than two years; they may be short lived perennials or long lived perennials.

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  • Permaculture

    Permaculture is a sustainable, holistic cultivation system

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  • Pollination

    Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred by a variety of different means, to fertilise plants.

  • Plant Breeders Rights

    Plant Breeders Rights, also known as PBR, is a legal means of protecting the time and investment breeders have put into developing new varieties and culitvars.

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  • Plant Species

    The species is the second part of a plant’s botanical name used to properly describe it.

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  • Pollarding

    Pollarding is a similar system of tree and woodland management as Coppicing, but the tree is pruned around 1.5 metres or higher off the ground after the tree has established a strong, healthy trunk.

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  • Propagation

    Propagation is usually understood to mean the process by which humans instigate and control plant growth of new plants by seed or vegetative means.

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  • Rootstock

    The rootstock is a plant chosen as part of the process of grafting to be the roots of the new plant.

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  • Restorative pruning

    Restorative pruning is to prune a tree or shrub with the aim of improving its health by removing excess or dead stems and reducing its overall size.


  • A Spit

    What is a Spit?

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  • Straw Bale Gardening

    Straw Bale Gardening is a no-dig growing method of gardening.

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  • Secateurs

    Secateurs are horticultural scissors designed to cut woody plant stems up to 1.5cm thick.

  • Scarify

    To tear up the layer of thatch and moss which develops in lawns, using a hard metal rake or a mechanical tool.

  • Step-over cordon

    A step-over cordon is a specimen which has been trained at a height low enough to step over, a row of which creates a pleasant, fruiting or flowering fence.


  • Transplant

    Transplant means to move an established plant, tree or shrub specimen to another place, best done when the specimen in dormant.

  • Tender Plant

    A tender plant is a plant or shrub which, unlike frost hardy plants , cannot survive harsh conditions such as low temperatures, particularly if wet and cold.

  • Top-Dress

    Top-dress means to spread a thin layer of compost over soil without digging it in, allowing the slow release of nutrients into the soil.



  • Woody Perennials

    Woody perennials are shrubs and trees which survive for years and maintain a woody structure above ground. They may be either deciduous or evergreen.




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