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Glossary of Home Gardening Terms

Posted in Garden Advice on September 12, 2017

Glossary of Home Gardening Terms 

Words and terms used in gardening and their meaning.

Annual Annual plants live for only one growing season, i.e. they grow, flower, set seed and die in one year.
Arthropod An animal with a jointed exoskeleton (exterior skeleton). E.g. mites, insects, spidersslatersmillipedes.
Bait Food attractant. Some baits are lures only and contain no toxin.
Beneficial Insects Insects that are beneficial to the garden by eating pests, pollinating plants, improving soil condition, re-cycling leaf matter etc. E.g. bees that pollinateladybird insects that eat aphids.
Biennial Biennial plants live for two years; in the first year growing leaves, stems and roots, in the second year, it blooms. It may be dormant through winter.
BioGro® Certified Certified as input for organics by BioGro®, New Zealand's organic certification body. Kiwicare BioGro® Certificate.
Blowflies Flies whose larvae feed on decaying meat and protein. E.g. blue bottles, green bottles.
Bug (common) The common term for crawling or flying insect, spider, or other arthropod found in gardens. E.g. Weevils, Aphids.
Bug (technical) As a technical term, a bug is an insect with piercing mouth-parts. E.g. Shield bugsaphids.
Bulb The thickened underground storage organ of the group of perennials which includes daffodils and onion. Bulbil is a small bulb as found on some Oxalis.
Borer Wood-boring insect. E.g. Citrus tree borer.
Chewing insects Insects that eat plant tissue such as leaves, roots and shoots. E.g. Caterpillarsweevils.
Chlorophyll The green pigment in plants that is essential in photosynthesis.
Concentrate Concentrated product for dilution with water (or other) before use. E.g. Weed Weapon Extra Strength.
Contact Herbicide Weed Killer that kills weed plant tissues where it contacts them and does not move into the plant and move to other parts. Effective by killing leaves and stems and draining roots of energy. Most effective on young and annual weeds. E.g. Weed Weapon Natural Power.
Contact Insecticide An insecticide that forms a protective barrier on the surface of plants where pest insects would walk or lay eggs. It does not penetrate into the plant and affects the sap or other parts of the plant. E.g. Organic Insect Control.
Deciduous Deciduous plants (trees or shrubs) that lose their leaves seasonally (most commonly during autumn) and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe.
Dieback A symptom of part of the plant dying from tip back towards roots. E.g. Buxus blight.
Dilution Addition of water to concentrate to achieve the required level of active to be applied.
Dilution Rate The ratio of water to concentrate the product required to achieve the correct level of the active ingredient. E.g. 20 ml in 1 litre water - 1:50 ratio.
Ericaceous Several meanings:
Plant of the heather family.
Plants which 'dislike' alkaline soil, e.g. heathers, rhododendrons and camellias.
Growing media suitable for plants which 'dislike' alkaline soil.
Evergreen A plant that remains green with foliage throughout the year.
Fertiliser Organic or inorganic plant food which may be either liquid or granular used to amend the soil in order to improve the quality or quantity of plant growth. E.g. LawnPro All in 1.
Foliage The leaves of a plant.
Fungicide Product that control diseases caused by fungi. Some may also control some bacterial diseases. E.g. PLANThealth Liquid Copper.
Germinate The process that transforms the embryo within a seed into a seedling.
Hardy Hardy plants survive frost and freezing—at least down to certain temperatures, depending on the plant.
Herbicide General term for any product that kills weeds.
Selective herbicide is a term for a weed killer that selectively kills some weeds without harm to other plants. E.g. LawnPro Turfclean Ultra kills broadleaf weeds in lawns without harming the lawn grass.
Honeydew The sticky secretion produced by sap-sucking insects such as aphids and scale.
Humus The organic part of the soil resulting from the partial decay of leaves and other organic matter. See Organic Matter, Humus, Humic Substances and Humates.
Insect Flying or crawling arthropod possessing six true legs in adult form. E.g. Weevils, caterpillars.
Insecticide Product for killing and control of insects. E.g. PLANThealth Spectrum Plus.
Larva Immature stage (juvenile) of animal that undergoes metamorphosis to change to the adult form. E.g. Caterpillarsgrass grub.
Lure Non-toxic bait or other attractants. Usually used to attract pests to traps.
Micro-nutrients  Mineral elements which are needed by plants in very small quantities. If the plants you are growing require specific 'trace elements' and they are not available in the soil, they must be added.
Mulch Loose material placed on the soil to control weeds and conserve soil moisture. Usually, this is a coarse organic matter, such as leaves, clippings or bark, but plastic sheeting can also be used.
Natural Derived from nature and not man-made. Note: a product can be natural without being organic as defined by BioGro®.
Node The point on a stem where one or more leaves, branches or flowers start to grow. E.g. Periwinkle.
Nymph Immature (juvenile) form of invertebrates which go through gradual metamorphosis. Nymphs typically look similar to but smaller than the adult form. E.g. fluffy bums (leafhopper nymphs).
Organic Organic as defined by BioGro®. New Zealand's organic certifying organisation. Kiwicare BioGro® Certificate. See also What is Organic?
Perennial Perennial plants live for several years.
Phloem System of tubes in plants that carry food (particularly sugars) from leaves to all parts of the plant.
Photosynthesis The chemical process in plants that captures the energy of sunlight to produce food.
pH The measure of acidity or alkalinity on a scale 0 to 14. pH 7.0 is neutral. Below 7.0 is acidic, above 7.0 is alkaline.
Ready to Use RTU. A product not requiring dilution before use. E.g. PLANThealth Spectrum Plus.
Rhizome A modified plant stem which grows horizontally, under the surface of the soil. New growth then emerges from different points of the rhizome. Ginger and some lawn grasses are rhizome plants.
Rodenticide Product for control of rodents. Usually toxic bait for controlling rats and/or mice. E.g. NO Rats & Mice One Feed.
Rodents Rats and mice.
Rosette A cluster of leaves or flowers forming a compact, circular arrangement. E.g. Dandelion.
Sap Sucking Insects Insects that have piercing mouth-parts that feed on the sap of plants. E.g. greenflyscalemealy bugsstink bugs.
Selective Herbicide Selective herbicide is a term for a weed killer that selectively kills some weeds without harm to other plants. E.g. LawnPro Turfclean Ultra kills broadleaf weeds in lawns without harming the lawn grass.
Sensitive Plants This term is used to describe plants that are more easily affected by the product in use or conditions. E.g. grapevines are sensitive to phenoxy hormonal type herbicides such as MCPA, mecoprop and dicamba in LawnPro Turfclean. Care must be taken when using these products near grapevines to prevent damage from spray drift.
Shrub Small to medium-sized woody plant.
Soil Dwelling Insects or other creatures that live in or on the soil. E.g. grass grubporina caterpillarants.
Spore Spores are the reproductive cell structure of ferns, fungi, liverworts and mosses.  These types of plants do not form flowers nor produce seeds.
Stolon An above-ground spreading stem or runner that often produces a new plant at the tip. E.g. Buttercup.
Suckers Growths that appear from the root systems of many trees and shrubs. E.g. Poplar.
Synergy Creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. E.g. Glyphosate and saflufenacil in Weed Weapon Extra Strength; put together these actives work better than the sum of their separate activity. There is synergism between the actives.
Systemic Herbicide Weed killer that moves into a weed and it transported to other parts of the weed usually including the roots and kills the whole weed. E.g. Weed Weapon Extra Strength
Systemic Insecticide Insecticides that move into plants (or animals) and are moved to other parts. Usually to provide protection in sap from sap-sucking and chewing insects. E.g. PLANThealth Insect Hit.
Tap Root The main, thick root growing straight down from a plant (not all plants have tap roots). E.g. Dandelion.
Thatch Dead grass leaves, stems and roots that build up on soil below lawn grass. See Excessive Lawn Thatch
Tuber An underground stem which stores food and plant energy and from which a plant grows. E.g. Oxalis.
Weeds Plants growing in the 'wrong' place. Pest plants. E.g. grasses in paths.
Withholding Period The period after application of a product to edible crops that the crops should not be harvested for consumption.
Xylem System of tubes that carries water and nutrients from the roots up to other parts of the plant.

See also Home Pest Control Glossary and Outdoor Cleaning Glossary.

David Brittain

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