A Botanical Dictionary: Some Words Gardeners Need to Know

A good general overview of some of the phrases and words that gardeners will come across in their day. If you have ever wondered the difference between alternate and compound or what a raceme is, this is the Botanical Dictionary for you.

Acid soil – soil that maintains a pH of less than 7.0

Alkaline soil – soil that maintains a pH of more than 7.0

Alternate – leaves or buds that are spaced along opposite sides of stem by not directly across from one another

Annual – plants that have their entire cycle of life in one season

Biennial – plants that have their entire cycle of life in two years

Broadleaf evergreen – plants with broad non-needlelike leaves that are evergreen. An azalea is a common example.

Compost – organic matter (like leaves, mulch, manure, etc) that breaks down in soil to increase its nutrients.

Compound – plants made of more than one part. It can describe leaves with more than a single leaflet or flowers with more than a single floret.

Conifer – Cone-forming tree or shrub. Most conifers will be evergreen.

Corolla – The flower’s petals as a whole instead of separate items

Cutting – used in plant propagation, it is a part of a plant that is removed and made to produce a root or shoot.

Deadhead – the pinching off of a dead seed head or bloom.

Deciduous – plants that lose all their leaves at the end of their growing season

Division – used in plant propagation, it is a plant clump that is broke apart in to sections to be replanted as separate plants

Drupe – a plant’s fruit that is a seed surrounded by fleshy tissue. A cherry is an example of a drupe; a raspberry an example of a drupe cluster.

Evergreen – plants that keep their leaves past its growing season

Extirpated – wildlife species that no longer exist in the wild

Hardy – plants that are able to withstand cold weather and extreme heat conditions

Lateral – a shoot that grows from the stem or root of a plant

Loam – used to describe soils, it is a well draining mix of silt, sand, and clay.

Mulch – can be organic (like wood chips) or inorganic (like plastic) to go around plants to protect against weather or as a weed barrier.

Neutral – soil that is precisely 7.0 pH

Opposite – leaves that are on each side of a stem and directly across from one another.

Perennial – plants that will live three growing seasons or more

pH – a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of matter. It is on a 14 point scale with each single number being equal to 10 times the number preceding it. You can add lime to raise pH and sulfur to lower it.

Raceme – an elongated cluster of flowers that run along a single stalk. Georgia Plume is an example

Sodic soil – very high pH of more than 8.5

Succulent – a plant that is fleshy and who’s stem contains moisture. Hens & Chicks are an example

Tender – plants that maybe damaged in cold or extreme heat

Trifoliate – leaves that will have groups of three or are made up of three leaflets.

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