Glossary of Gardening

Glossary of Gardening Terms: D to H

We realise it can get a little confusing sometimes trying to decipher grow guide instructions, botanical research papers and other publications relying heavily on horticultural terminology, so here’s the second part of our A-Z guide – a glossary of gardening.

An A-Z Glossary of Gardening: A to C | D to H | I to P | Q to Z


An A-Z Glossary of Gardening: D to H

Gardening Glossary – D

Damping off – Ground-level rotting of a plant’s stem, often due to fungal attack, soil-borne diseases or over-watering.

Dead heading – Removing dead flowers or flowerheads, either for aesthetics, to prolong blooms, to promote re-bloom or to prevent seeding.

Deciduous – Plants which shed their foliage at the end of the growing season before renewing them at the start of the next.

Deep shade – A plant which needs less than two hours of partial sun each day.

Deplete – To exhaust a soil’s nutrient supply, eventually causing it to become infertile.

Desiccate – To cause to dry out.

Dioecious – Different plants of the same species which possess distinct male and female organs.

Direct seed – To sow seeds directly into the ground, instead of starting them in containers.

Double digging – Preparing soil by digging a trench then moving the earth from one row into the next.

Drainage – The ability of excess water to pass through soil.

Drill – A straight, thin furrow in the earth for planting seed or seedlings.

Drip line – An imaginary line around a plant outlining its outermost branch tips, beyond which drips of moisture (e.g. dew or rain) will not reach the surrounding earth.

Drip system – An efficient watering technique comprising of a larger main hose and several smaller water outlets.

Dry ice – Gaseous at room temperature, this is a cold, white substance formed by the compression and cooling of carbon dioxide.

Gardening Glossary – E

Elongated – To become longer, referring to a plant’s growth.

Equinox – Occurring in spring and autumn of each year, this is the point at which the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal duration.

Evergreen – Plants which retain the majority of their foliage throughout the whole year.

Gardening Glossary – F

Feed – To deliver nutrients to a plant via its foliage or roots.

Female – Pistillate, ovule, seed-producing.

Fertigate – To both fertilise and irrigate at the same time.

Fertiliser – An organic or synthetic substance applied to either the soil or the plant directly, with the aim of improving or otherwise enhancing nutrition.

Fertliser burn – Refers to the brown leaf ‘burning’ and curling caused by the application of too much fertiliser.

Flast – A shallow container used to start off seedlings and cuttings.

Foilar feeding – The application of a fertiliser solution applied as a mist directly to foliage.

Foliage – A plant’s leaves or (non-specifically) green parts.

Frost date – The average date of the last expected frost in your climate zone.

Fungicide – Chemical compounds which are used to inhibit plant and soil fungi.

Fungistat – A fungus-inhibiting chemical.

Fungus – A ‘lower’ form of plant life which lacks chlorophyll (e.g. mildew, mold and rust).

Gardening Glossary – G

Gene – A sexually-inherited chromosome which influences a plant’s development.

Germinate – The commencement of growth from seeds, either by budding, shooting or sprouting out of the earth.

Germination – The chemical and physical changes which occur at the beginning of a seed’s growth into a plant.

GPM – A unit for measuring the flow of liquid, ‘Gallons Per Minute’.

Green manure – A crop grown to be ‘turned in’ to soil to increase its fertility.

Gardening Glossary – H

Hardening off – The process of acclimatising plants from, for example, a greenhouse to the outdoors.

Hardy – A plant which can withstand trying climatic conditions (such as frost) all year-round without protection.

Heavy soil – A poorly-drained soil which contains high levels of clay.

Hermaphrodite – A plant in possession of both male and female reproductive organs.

Honey dew – Sticky, honey-like substance secreted aphids, mealy bugs and scale onto foliage.

Hormone – A chemical which controls a plant’s growth and development, for example, rooting hormones can improve the formation of root systems.

Humidity (or relative humidity) – The proportion of air-bound moisture to the greatest possible amount of moisture the air could hold at the same temperature.

Humus – Typically a dark, fertile and loamy soil, humus is a complex but relatively stable grouping of nutrient-storing molecules, created by the decomposition of organic matter via microbial action.

Hybrid – Any offspring produced by two plants of different species or varieties.

Hydrated lime – Lime which is immediately soluble in liquid and is used to ‘sweeten’ (raise the pH) of soil.

Hydrogen – An odourless, lightly-coloured to colourless gas which, in combination with oxygen, produces water.

Hygrometer – An instrument used to measure the relative humidity of the local environment.


An A-Z Glossary of Gardening: A to C | D to H | I to P | Q to Z