B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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Gardeners' Glossary

Gardening enthusiasts have their own jargon, as do many other hobbyists. Some of these terms can be confusing, especially to the gardening newcomer. So here's a brief list of terms that all gardeners should be familiar with.

Annual -- Plant that completes its life cycle from seed germination to seed production in one growing season.

Biennial -- Plant that completes its life cycle over two growing seasons; usually produces only vegetation its first season, then flowers and fruits the second season, and then dies.

Bulb -- Underground plant structure made up of modified stem and leaves for storing carbohydrates.

Bud -- Undeveloped shoot with leaves (vegetative) or flowers (floral).

Conifer -- Plant whose fruiting structure is a cone.

Cultivar -- Cultivated variety; chosen for a feature(s) that varies from its species.

Deciduous -- Plant that loses all of its leaves annually.

Dormant -- Reduced state of physiological activity.

Evergreen -- Plant that retains at least some of its foliage throughout the year.

Herbaceous -- Plant that dies back to the ground at the end of the growing season (can be annual or perennial).

Horticulture -- Art and science of growing ornamental plants, vegetables and fruits.

Hybrid -- Result from the interbreeding of two distinct species, cultivars or varieties.

Mulch -- Cover placed on top of soil and/or around growing plants to suppress weed growth, conserve soil moisture, and/or modify temperature.

Native -- Plant species indigenous to a specific geographic area and, thus, generally best adapted to those local conditions.

Perennial -- Plant that lives for more than two growing seasons; can have multiple seed stages.

Photosynthesis -- Process by which plants convert light energy, carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates.

Pinch -- Removal of young stem tips.

Plant Propagation -- Increase in the number of plants, using seed, stem, leaf, root or other plant tissue.

Shrub -- Woody perennial plant with multiple main stems, generally smaller than a tree.

Tree -- Woody perennial plant with one or very few main stem(s).

Wildflower -- Plant species that grows and reproduces on its own, without human intervention.

Woody Plant -- Plant whose stems persist from year to year, adding layers of cells each season.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox