Garden Terminology 101: A Guide for Beginners

Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a plant rookie, understanding key garden terminology is crucial. “Knowing basic gardening terms makes it easier to ask for advice or discuss your progress with your gardening friends,” explains Christopher Landercasper, the Director of Farming Operations for the Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group. “Plus, it helps ensure you are employing the right methods when gardening.”

a person sitting in a garden: Getty / Kathrin Ziegler

© Provided by Martha Stewart Living
Getty / Kathrin Ziegler

So, what should you do when you can’t decipher the meaning behind a common phrase? For starters, horticulturist Amy Enfield of Bonnie Plants recommends looking it up in a good gardening book—or when all else fails, try Google. “Some general gardening books have a glossary of terms in the back of the book for quick reference,” she says. “Or you can look it up online.” You can also check in here: We asked Enfield and Landercasper to explain some basic garden terminology, and here’s what they had to say.

a person sitting in a garden: From perennials to pollination and more, two gardening experts break down the meaning behind some popular gardening phrases and terms.

© Getty / Kathrin Ziegler
From perennials to pollination and more, two gardening experts break down the meaning behind some popular gardening phrases and terms.

Related: Smart Gardening Tips and Tricks


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Annuals, Perennials, and Biennials

Before you can successfully grow any plant, Enfield says it’s essential to understand its life cycle. “Annuals are plants that complete their lifecycle (seed to flower) in a single growing season and then die; therefore they have to be planted new each year,” she explains. “Perennials are plants that come back year after year, while biennials take two growing seasons (years) to complete their life cycle. Biennials do not flower the first year, but flower the second year, set seed, and then die.”


According to Landercasper, germination is the moment the seed ends its dormant state and begins to metabolize, divide cells, and begin its growth cycle. “Germination is most often referred to as a percentage,” he explains. “Most companies test their seeds before offering them for sale and write on the package the germination percent. This is the expected number of the seeds in the packet that are actually viable, healthy seeds. Good seeds are generally in the high 90th percentile.”


Most simply put, pollination is what happens when the pollen from a male flower combines with the stigma of a female flower of the same or very similar plant species. “Pollination can occur by the wind, through an insect, or it can be done by hand if a gardener is trying to cross breed species,” Landercasper explains. “Some plants such as tomatoes and grapes are self-pollinating, where each flower has both male and female parts.”

Full Sun, Part Sun, and Partial Shade

If you aren’t planting your flowers in the right kind of sun, there’s a good chance they won’t grow. “Full sun refers to an area that receives, or a plant that needs, at least six hours or more of direct sunlight daily,” Enfield says. “Partial sun and partial shade refer to plants that need between four to

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Vegetable Gardening For Beginners – Planting a Beautiful Vegetable Garden at Home

Are you looking to plant your very own vegetable garden but you're not sure how to get started? Planting a healthy vegetable garden provides so many benefits including an abundance of healthy organic food and saving thousands on your grocery bills. I don't know about you but I still remember the days when a tomato from the supermarket tasted like a tomato, not anymore unfortunately. Let's look at some vegetable gardening for beginners tips to help get you started today.

Vegetable Gardening For Beginners – Tips
Preparation is the key to growing a beautiful and healthy vegetable garden. Planning is critical for setting up a vegetable garden that you can harvest every daily. Vegetable gardening for beginners does not have to be difficult with the correct planning.

First you must decide on your plot, the area for your garden. The ideal spot is somewhere that receives plenty of morning sun and protection from the elements such as wind. Although you maybe limited with the space you have available don't be discouraged as you will be shocked at how much you can grow by maximizing the space you have. Ensure there is sufficient drainage for water run off.

Importance Of Soil Quality
One of the most common vegetable gardening for beginners tips you will hear is never underestimate soil quality. Soil is the life line of a garden do not underestimate it's importance. You must ensure that your soil preparations include checking the soil and preparing it by testing its pH levels. The ideal pH level for your soil is 6.5, if you do not have a test kit you can go to your local garden outlet and let them test it for you.

Don't stress if your levels are out of whack for the moment, you can purchase garden lime that will improve the pH levels of your soil. In a nutshell your pH levels will determine how much nutrients your vegetables will be able to receive.

Preparing Your Plot
Dig your plot and turn your soil over, ensure you dig into a depth of about 12 "(30cm) and remove any weeds you find by hand. Avoid using weed killers and they can effect your soil structure and levels. Once your pH levels are in healthy range, wait 4-5 weeks before you begin planting.

The vegetables that you grow will dependent on where you live. Speak to your gardening outlet that will buy seedlings from for the most suitable vegetables.
Ask about purchasing some organic fertilizer which will be the life blood of your garden. Organic fertilizers such as animal manure, blood and bones as well as compost are terrific choices for providing essential nutrients and moisture.

Growing Vegetables Year Round
The key to planting a successful garden is to have vegetables that you can harvest year round. By doing this you can rotate different vegetables to help ensure the health of your gardening by limiting pests and diseases. One of the most common vegetable gardening for beginners mistakes is …

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