Gardening Terms

Glossary of Gardening Words

gardening terms

The Gardening Terms page, is a glossary of gardening words to help you to understand the meaning of the various gardening words. If you are new to gardening, some of the words may be new to you also. This is just a short reference on some of the terminology used.

AARS Award An award given to a rose by the ALL American Rose Society, after the new rose has been evaluated. Less than 5% of roses get this award, so ones that do, are pretty darn good!

Acid Soil Soil with a ph lower than 7.0

Agatha Rose G group of roses that were bred between 1760-1830. They are sometimes included with the Gallica roses.

Alkaline Soil A soil with a ph that is higher than 7.0 is defined as being alkaline. (see also acid soil)

Annual A plant that grows from seed, flowers, produces seeds, and dies in one season.

Anther The pollen-bearing tip of the stamen.

Attar of Roses A scent that is distilled from the rose petals.

Axil The angel between a leaf and a stem where an axillary bud develops.

Balled  (Balling) Of a flower that does not open properly, and rots when still a bud.

Bareroot plants Plants being sold with all of the soil removed from the roots. Usually sold with the tops protruding from bags or boxes, and roots packed in damp sawdust.

Bedding Rose A rose, that is typically very colorful, and is planted in large numbers for effect.

Bi-Color Rose A flower that has two different shades of color, usually with a sharp contrast.

Biennial A plant that grows from seed one year, overwinters, and flowers the next season.

Blend A rose with two or more colors on each of its petals,but without the front/back contrast like a bicolor.

Boss The cluster of stamens at the center of the flower.

Botanical Name The Latin or scientific name of the plant.

Bract A leaf that looks like a green petal,and protects the opening bud.

Bud The early stage of a flower (or) leaf

Bud Union Also referred to as a graft union. The point on a rose, right above the roots, where the top portion of the rose has been grafted onto the roots.

Button eye Some older cultivars have a circle of petals at the center of the flower, that turn over and raise up like an old button.

Canes Another name for the main branches of the rose bush. These are thicker, and sturdier than the stems.

Carpel A pistil, the female part of the flower.

Complete Fertilizer Gardening Terms that describe fertilizer that contains all three elements needed for plant growth: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium.

Compost Created by decomposing organic matter such as leaves, egg shells, peels, weeds, grass clippings, etc. It becomes a black, crumbly, soil-like material that is wonderful for your plants!

Cultivar A cultivated variety, a variety of a plant bred in cultivation.

Cutting A piece of a plant used to grow a whole new plant.


These gardening terms describes pinching or cutting off spent flowers to tidy the plant and encourage more blooms.

Disbudding Removing unopened flower buds, a technique used to ensure the remaining buds grow larger than normal flowers.

Dormant The time in the life cycle of a plant when it stops growing. A resting period. The top part of the plant may or may not die back during this time.

Double Flower A flower may have any number of petals over 20 in a rounded cluster.

English Rose The name used to describe the roses bred by David Austin,an English rose breeder.

Exhibition Rose A large flowered rose that is suitable for winning prizes because it conforms to the exhibitors ideal of a rose.

Fertilizer Different forms of material used to feed a plant. Could be dry, or liquid.Different formulations are used to encourage different processes: Blooming, Foliar growth, Root development

Filament The stalk, or lower part of the stamen,which join it to, and support the anther.

Floriferious Heavy flowering over a long period of time.

Foliar Feeding Spraying plants with liquid fertilizer, to allow them to take up the nutrients through their leaves.

Fully Double Very full of petals.

Grafting When a short length of stem from one plant is attached to the root system of another. Usually done to produce a better plant.

More Gardening Terms

Ground cover Low- growing plants that grow quickly.

Growing Season Refers to the growing time in your area. The number of days between the last killing frost in Spring and the first killing frost in Fall.

Guard Petals Outer petals.

Habit The characteristic growth, and general appearance of the plant.

Half-Hardy Describes a plant that cannot spend all the year outdoors, generally being killed by the frost.

Hardiness Zone Also referred to as your "Planting Zone" A map of climate zones developed by the Department of Agriculture to help you select plants that will survive typical winters in your region. Hardiness zones and climate zones are gardening terms that are very important for you to know!

Click here to find your planting zone

Hardy The plants ability to withstand cold. also referred to as "cold  hardy"

Heritage Roses Older roses bred before 1914, also called Historic roses.

High-Centered Buds Long conical shaped buds, typically Hybrid Tea roses.

Hip The fruit of the rose. Sometimes large, and decorative.

Hybrid A plant produced by cross-breeding two plants of different species.

Imbricated Having petals that are nearly overlapping.

Internode The section of the stem between two nodes.

Miniature rose A rose bush that bears miniature flowers, and has miniature leaves, stems, buds , all reduced in perfect proportions , on a small bush.

Mulch Material placed over the soil. Used to suppress weeds and conserve moisture, also for its pleasing looks.

Node The point at which a leaf or side shoot joins a stem.

Own-root Roses Roses made from cuttings of the plant. They are not grafted from other plants, they grow on their "own roots", which make them hardier in cold climates, because if the tops are killed in winter, they can emerge from the roots, as the original plant! gardening terms that are important to me in my climate!

Peat Moss Partially decomposed remains of moss. The best quality is Sphagnum peat moss (harvested in Canadian bogs)

Pegging Down Not seen so much anymore, but it was popular in the Victorian era. The long canes of the Hybrid Perpetual or Bourbon roses were bent down to the ground, and held there with wooden pegs. This encouraged blooms along the length of the whole cane.

Petalage The number or arrangement of petals in a flower.

Pistil The female part of the flower. Consists of the stigma, style, and ovary.

Pillar Rose A climbing rose that shorter growth, suitable for training up a pillar or post. It is not an "official" class of roses, simply an unofficial name.

Powdery Mildew A disease affecting roses

Prickle The sharp, pointed thorns on the rose cane. Also called a thorn.

Pruning Removing canes, and branches from the plant to improve health, and shape.

Rambler Rose A climbing rose that usually bears small flowers in bunches. They have long flexible canes, and most are not repeat flowering.

Recurrent Repeat flowering

Revert To return to normal, like when a sport starts to produce the same growth as its parent.

Reverse The side of the petal that faces away from the center.

Root-Stock The Base roots onto which the desired variety is grafted, on a grafted rose.

Rose Hips Gardening Terms used to describe the fleshy fruit of the uncut rose, that in late summer and fall swells and looks like the seedpod.

Rosette A flower shape that is characterized by radiating circles of petals.

Seedling A plant that is grown from seed; the offspring of a named variety.

Semidouble Flower Flower has 10-20 petals, in two or more layers.

Single Blossom One layer of five to seven fully formed petals.

Sport A mutation, caused by either an induced or spontaneous genetic change.

Stamen The male part of the flower. The stalk, and the anther.

Standard Gardening terms used to describe a rose budded to the top of a long understock, so the branches are raised on a single stem. The stem is about 3 ft. long. If it is any shorter, it is called a half standard.

Stigma The tip of a pistil which receives the pollen to fertilizer a flower.

Sucker On a grafted rose, these are undesirable canes that sprout up from the rootstock, below the bud union. (remove them at once!)

Tender Used to describe plants that are unable to withstand extreme cold, and/or freezing temperatures. It's lack of cold resistance.

Thorn  The sharp pointed thorn on the rose cane. Also called a Prickle.

Understock A rose is grafted onto the root stock (understock) of a hardy, usually wild rose.

Vigor (or Vigorous) denotes general sturdiness of growth, the plants ability to grow rapidly.

Watershoot The shoots (soft and watery canes) that arise from the base of a rosebush, and become the future flowering canes. Do not confuse them with suckers from the understock, which should be removed, as soon as you spot them.

Winter Kill Gardening terms that refers to the damage done to the canes by harsh winters. The canes turn black and need to be cut back to green growth in the early Spring.

I hope you found my gardening terms page helpful, and I hope you will continue to browse the many pages of this site. Thanks for visiting!

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