gardening terms

Whether you are reaching for gardening for beginners guides or are a dab hand, gardening terms can be a jungle of confusion. From 'hardening off' to 'biennal' - we've pulled together a list of meanings for common gardening terms to help get over the jargon.



Acclimatisation is when plants adjust to cooler (often outdoor) conditions. Often heard at the beginning of spring, before planting out plants that have been growing indoors over winter. Also see ‘hardening off which is the technique to help plants acclimatise for cooler conditions.

acid soil

Acid soil is when the PH is lower than 7. Some plants, like nasturtiums or parsley need acidic soil to thrive. Also see Alkaline soil.


Aerating is the practice of loosening compact soil, usually with a trusty garden fork to allow air in. This benefits your plants giving them good drainage and fertile ground to grow big and strong.

alkaline soil

Alkaline soil is when the PH is higher than 7. Plants like lavender and forget me nots do really well in alkaline soil. Also see Acid soil.


A plant that will sprout, grow, flower, seed and complete it's life cycle in a year. See also 'Perrenial' and 'Biennial'


A very common sap sucking little bug also known as 'green fly' or 'black fly' that particularly like roses. Try planting nasturtiums in your garden to naturally repel them.


Biennial is a plant that has a 2 year life cycle. Growing in the first year and flowering and going to seed before dying off in the second.


Bolting is when vegetables and herbs go to seed before you would like them to. Often this brought on by stress - like a cold spell, lack of water or particularly hot conditions. It normally makes the vegetables and foliage woody, bitter to eat and virtually unusable. Very common with lettuce leaves and spinach.

companion planting

Plants and vegetables that are grown near one another for mutual benefits such as attracting pollinators or deterring pests. Try growing chives near carrots to deter carrot fly or sweet peas near broad beans to attract pollinators or basil near tomatoes as they both love the same growing conditions.


Deadheading is to cut off spent flowers to encourage the plant to bloom again, often flowering for a second time before the end of the season., extending the plants flowering period.

direct sow

To direct sow, is to sow in their final positions where you want them to grow, often essential for plants that don’t like their roots disturbed.

full sun

Position in your garden that gets 6 hours or more of sunlight in a day.


When seeds begins it's physical changes and grows roots and leaves. We like to think of it as the moment you have cracked it's code to get it to grow.

hardening off

Hardening off is the method of getting your sprouts and plants that have been grown indoors or in a greenhouse used to outdoor temperatures. By hardening off, your sprouts won’t get stressed, wilt or in some cases die off. See also ‘Acclimatisation’.


Plants that are tough enough to survive winter without any protection. Ordinarily this means the plant is capable of withstanding outdoor winter temperatures down to -15C.


A fertile soil mixture made up of equal amounts of sand, silt and a little less clay. The ratio is about 40-40-20%. Loam is a garden favourite as it is considered ideal for retaining nutrients well and absorbing water while still allowing excess water to drain away.

micro green

Micro greens is the process of harvesting young, leafy vegetables and herbs whilst they are still sprouts. With their small tender leaves, they often have a concentrated flavour and are rich in goodness (making them an ideal salad topper).

open pollinated

Plant varieties that produce seeds that are 'true', growing into near identical plants from which they were grown from (not cross pollinated). Unless otherwise stated as a hybrid, the plant it is often open pollinated. Choosing open pollinated means you are supporting the bio-diversity of the seed and being a part of the seeds history.


Perennial means plants that live for more than 2 years. Also see 'Annual' and 'Biennial'.

pricking out

Pricking out is when you move your seedlings from pots or trays to give them more space to grow, normally when their first set of true leaves have grown.

root rot

Root rot is a nasty fungal disease that affects the roots of the plant, often causing the plant to wither and die. Often caused by overwatering or plants in pots without much drainage.


The process of simulating the natural process of breaking a seeds dormancy that it would naturally experience over autumn and winter. Placing seeds in a moist and cold environment (often the fridge with a damp tissue in a bag) before taking them out to sprout.

thin out

To thin out is when you remove seedlings that sprout to close to one another, to allow the strongest seedlings to grow with less competition for light and nutrients.


Lots of water and no wear for it to go, waterlogged pots or even beds is when you have an excess of water submerging the pots, best avoided by using free draining soil and lifting plants off the ground with feet in the winter.