The following information is from Claire Smith, Linn County Master Gardener:
My granddaughter was reading to me the other day and asked me to define “etc.” and eucalyptus”. That got me to thinking that there have been several occasions where I’ve been a bit embarrassed because I didn’t know the definitions of some gardening words. Following are a very few of the multitudes of terms. Acid Soil: soil with a pH less than 7.0. Acid soil is sometimes called “sour soil” by gardeners. Most plants refer a slightly acid soil between 6-7 where most essential nutrients are available.
- Alkaline Soil: soil with a pH greater than 7.0, usually formed from limestone bedrock. Akaline soil is often referred to as “sweet soil”.
- Bare Roots: trees, shrubs, and perennials that have been grown in soil, dug and have had he soil removed prior to sales or shipping. Mail order plants are often shipped bare root with the roots packed in peat moss, sawdust or similar material and wrapped In plastic
- Berm: a low, artificial hill created in a landscape to elevate a portion of the landscape for functional and aesthetic reasons such as to add interest, screen areas, or improve drainage.
- Canopy: the total overhead area of a tree including the branches and leaves.
- Cold Hardiness: the ability of a perennial plant (including trees, shrubs and vines) to survive the minimum winter temperature in a particular area.
- Complete fertilizer: powdered, liquid or granular fertilizer with a balanced proportion of the three key nutrients-nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
- Compost: decomposed organic matter added to the soil to improve its drainage and ability to retain moisture.
- Corm: a modified bulb-like stem. It is swollen, short, solid and located underground. Crocus and glads are two plants that grow from corms.
- Cultivar: a CULTIvated VARiety. A unique form of a plant that has been identified as special or superior and has been selected for propagation and sale.
- Deadhead: to remove faded flowers from plants to improve their appearance, prevent seed production, and stimulate further flowering.
- Deciduous Plants: trees and shrubs that lose their leaves in the fall.
- pH: a measurement of the relative acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of soil or water based on a scale of 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Individual plants require soil to be within a certain range so that nutrients can dissolve in moisture and be available to them.
- Rootbound (or potbound): the condition of a plant that has been confined in a container too long. Its roots are forced to wrap around themselves and even swell out of the container. Successful transplanting or repotting required untangling and trimming away some of the matted roots.
- Self-seeding: the tendency of some plants to sow their seeds freely around the yard. It creates many seedlings the following season that may or may not be welcome.
- Slow-acting (slow release) fertilizer: fertilizer that is water soluble and releases its nutrients when acted on by soil temperature, moisture and/or related microbial activity. Typically granular, it may be organic or synthetic.
- Variegated: having various colors or color patterns. The term usually refers to plant foliage that is streaked, edged, blotched, or mottled with a contrasting color, often green with yellow, cream or white.