A glossary of gardening lingo.

By Madaline Sparks
Updated May 13, 2009
John Gruen

A Few Gardening Terms

  • Deadheading: Snipping dead or faded flowers to encourage more blooms.
  • Pinching back: Removing stems with your fingertips (or a pruner) to shape a plant and stimulate new growth.
  • Self-cleaning: This refers to plants that shed old blooms naturally.

Soil and Food Pointers

The 10 plants here are easy to begin with and will be easier still if you follow these guidelines.

  • Soil: Buy a lightweight potting mix from a garden center, preferably a sterile, loose mixture. Look for these ingredients on the label: peat moss, vermiculite, and decomposed organic matter.
  • Food: When planting, mix a time-release fertilizer, such as Dynamite or Osmocote, into the soil. Follow the directions on the package. Once a week, during regular watering, use a water-soluble fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro or an organic fish emulsion.

How to Read A Garden Tag

Besides explaining the plant’s water and sunlight requirements, tags will list these terms.

  • Blooms: The season or specific months you can expect to see flowers.
  • Habit: A plant’s growth pattern, such as mounded (a big, bushy heap) or trailing (vinelike).
  • Size: The maximum height and diameter the plant will reach at maturity.
  • Zone: Lists the plant’s hardiness in respect to where you live. (There are 11 zones in the United States; go to usna.usda.gov to find yours.)