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9 Gardening terms you should know

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

If you’re new to the community, welcome! We’re not all bored grandmas here, gardening is an exciting hobby that teaches patience and perseverance - and most of all, gives us a better appreciation of mother nature.

Happy black woman in a garden nursery on an ipad

For many beginner plant parents, it can get overwhelming figuring out all the gardening terms you should know and that other more experienced gardeners are using. Gardening, like every craft, has its own set of inside words and botanical terms.


It’s not compulsory to learn them all but you should definitely prioritize curiosity and learning as a gardener, so give these a try. Let’s start with some more common words you might see but not have any context for:


● Deadheading

The traditional meaning of this word is when a bud or car completes a journey without passengers or cargo.

Deadheading in gardening is when a gardener removes spent blooms or sprouting flower buds. Gardeners have several reasons for doing this - to encourage more blooms, to prevent seeding, or just for the look of it.


● Notching

When you notch a plant, you make a small cut above the bud or growth point to encourage branching or rooting. Originally a method for encouraging more branches in fruit trees, notching is more commonly done with rubber plants and other types of ficuses.

Notch Pruning a plant


● Tilth

This term describes the general health of the soil. The tilth of the soil refers to the balance of nutrients, water, and air that makes healthy soil.

Want to keep your soil at an optimal tilth for plant growth? Read our post on renewing your gardening soil.


● Vermicompost

Vermicomposting is an organic compost method that uses live worms to break down the green compost matter. Unlike other composting methods, vermicomposting produces worm castings, the natural excreta of adult earthworms. Worm castings are very rich in nutrients, and have reduced levels of contaminants than the other composting methods.


● Hardening off

This process is where young plants or seedlings are moved from a position of low light, progressively introducing them to full sun. Hardening off, allows your plants to get used to more sun, especially if you’re moving them from indoors or in shade.

Seedlings sitting outside in the sun

● Dormancy

Some plants go into a period of slow or no activity to conserve resources. Plants that go into dormancy usually do this in the colder seasons, as winter sets in.


● Mulch

Mulching is the gardening process of covering the topsoil of newly planted or transplanted seedlings with protective material. Mulching protects the surface of the soil from wind, heat, cold and other extreme conditions that could affect the growth of the plant. It’s also a great way to introduce long-term organic matter that will enrich the soil.


Mulch on the ground in a blue bucket

● Pinching out/off

This process describes the act of removing the youngest leaves/stems of a plant in order to encourage new growth to branch out, more leaf production, or blooms.


● Variegated

Variegated leaves have patterns like blotches, spots or others. Many plants that have evenly colored leaves have variegated versions that are patterned and usually, rarer.


Close up variegated rubber tree plant

What new words have you come across so far in your container gardening journey? Share with the community in the comments.

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