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Master Gardeners: Understanding the growing lingo of gardeners

(Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series on the terms used by gardeners.)

By Sheri Bethard

Texas Certified Master Gardener, Orange County Master Gardeners

There are a lot of growing terms gardeners use these days and whether you are a beginner or a pro, there are always new terms to learn or refresh your knowledge on. So, this week I am going to share with you some of the more common gardening terms you might hear around the garden centers you visit the next time.

Annual – These plants bloom, goes to seed and dies all in one growing season. It has to regenerate itself annually, thus the name. (example Texas Bluebonnets)

Perennial – A plant that blooms, goes to seed and may or may not die back during the growing season. It will come back each year from its rootstock, such as a Hardy Hibiscus, Yarrow, Turks Cap.

Biennial – Is a plant which sprouts one year then doesn’t flower until the next year and dies. (Sweet

William, Delphinium)

Bolting – Is called going to seed. When plants, such as lettuce or other similar plants in hot weather, make flowers then form seeds for the next generation.

Deadheading – Is removing old flowers after they have completed their blooming time and before going to seed. This encourages new flowers to form.

Determinate – Used mostly when speaking of tomatoes. They have a predetermined size and stop growing at that point. (Homestead, Roma)

Indeterminate – Also used when speaking of tomatoes. The plant has a less definite mature size. It will continue to grow until something causes it to stop growing such as a freeze. (Better Boy, Cherokee Purple)

Hardening Off – This is when a gardener transitions tender seedlings from being grown indoors by slowly introducing them to the sun and wind.

Cotyledons – Pronounced “Kä da LEon” They are the first “leaves” the plant produces which are not actually leaves. They are produced from the germinating seed. Sometimes called “seed leaves”

True leaves –Are the first set of leaves that new plant produces that actually look like leaves of the plant.

Stolon/Runner – Horizontal stem that is fleshy or semi-woody and lies along the top of the ground.

(Strawberry runners (daughters))

Rhizomes – Similar to stolons but grow underground. (Iris)

Soil – Consists of air, minerals, water and decaying remains of plants and animals allowing plants to grow.

Dirt – Does not hold any minerals or organic matter and plants struggle to grow initially or are unable survive.

Seeds – The process which plants survive for future generations. Some seeds need light in order to germinate while others need dark to germinate.

Sunlight Exposure for plants

  • Full Sun is a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight on most days
  • Partial Shade or Partial Sun – is 3 to 6 hours of sun exposure each day preferably in cooler hours, early morning or evening
  • Dappled Sun – is similar to partial shade but is sunlight that makes its way thru the branches and leaves of deciduous trees
  • Full Shade – does not mean no sun at all. Very few plants can survive without sunlight. These plants can survive on less than 3 hours of direct sunlight each day with filtered sunlight during the rest of the day.

I hope the past 2 weeks have given you a guide into some of the terms we gardeners use and for you to become familiar with. For your gardening questions, please call our Hot-Line Tuesday and Thursday’s from 10AM – 2PM on 409 882-7010. If after these times you can send your question to our website https://txmg.org/orange on our CONTACT page or send it to our Facebook page Orange County Texas Master Gardeners.

Our next Master Gardener certification class will start September 3, with orientation August 27. Classes currently will be virtual with the option of attending online live or listening to the recording. Classes will be each Thursday. Class fee is $150 which will include your training handbook, supplies and speakers’ fees. Please visit our website above and click the link JOIN MG for more information