The Fundamental Glossary for Growing Plants San Diego

Here is a glossary of most commonly used terms in gardening. To budding gardeners it will provide a reference point and a basic idea of the most typical gardening practices. While you certainly can venture in the beautiful world of gardening on your own, you don’t have to go it alone. Consider getting professional help, at least until you get the hang of it. San Diego Botanicals are a full-service interiorscaping company with over 4 decades of experience and expertise with over 4 decades of experience and expertise. Call us at 619-579-3992 for a free consultation on decorating your residential or commercial space with plants San Diego. We’d love to hear what you have in mind!


Soil, compost or products that have a pH value of 0.0 – 7.0 on a scale 0.0 to 14.0. The pH value of the soil is important because plants usually have pH preferences. If a plant’s soil has a wrong pH value the nutrients will get tied up in the soil and won’t be available for the plant to use.


Loosening soil or compost to allow more air in it by perforating it or adding certain products. It allows more circulation of oxygen as well as nutrients and is particularly important when the soil or compost is very compact and packed with solid particles.


Soil, compost and products that have a pH value of 7.0 – 14.0 on a scale 0.0 – 14.0.


A plant that blooms, produces a seed and dies in one year. As opposed to biennial and perennial.


A biennial plant’s life cycle lasts two growing seasons. It produces the leaves in the first, the flowers in the second and then dies.

Biological pest control

Using live insects or other organisms such as parasites to get rid of pests without having to use synthetic pesticide.


When a plant produces a flower or seed prematurely as a result of adverse conditions, usually excessive heat. The plant then “thinks” it will die soon so it speeds the life cycle by blooming or producing seed ahead of time.

Bone meal

A fertilizing product consisting of finely ground white or light colored bone added to soil to increase levels of phosphorous.


When the leaves of a plant go yellow because of a lack of chlorophyll. This signals insufficient nutrients or a disease.

Companion planting

Planting two species together in a pot or next to each other in the garden in order to exploit their natural affinity for each other. For example, humidity-loving plants are best grown together, so that the moisture produced by one benefits the others. Taller plants go well with those that like shade, etc. Leveraging this natural phenomenon will make the plants flower more and grow stronger, more resilient and healthier.


Dark, odorless and nutrient-packed, organic matter used to condition soil.


Propagating a plant by cutting a piece of the leaf, stem, root or bud and transferring it in a growing medium, so that it grows a root and develops a new plant.


Removing spent flowers or flowerheads for multiple reasons: to make the plant look tidier and nicer, to make it bloom more, re-bloom, or to postpone seeding.

Deep shade

Plants that love deep shade need less than 2 hours of dappled sunshine a day.


A material added to soil to enhance its nutrient level. It can be organic or synthetic and there are many recipes to make them DIY.

Foliar fertilizing

Applying a fertilizer on a plant’s leaves.


When a seed begins to sprout.

Heavy soil

Soil with a high proportion of clay which is not drained well.


Dark, loamy soil that is high in nutrients because it’s full of decomposed organic matter.

Integrated pest management

Using a variety of techniques and practices to minimize the use of pesticides. Includes biological pest control, using resilient plant varieties, physical and cultural practices and finally pesticides (as a last resort).


The best type of soil for gardening, with a good balance of sand, clay and humus.

Micro nutrients

Minerals in trace levels that should be added to soil if a plant requires the, but the soil is lacking.


This is an abbreviation that stands for nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium. These are macronutrients and virtually all plants need them. They are found in all fertilizers.

Partial shade

These plants love direct exposure to sun for 3 to 5 hours a day.


A flower of plant that grows and flowers for years.

Pinching off

Removing freshly grown leaves to promote growth.


Removing dead, injured or diseased leaves and branches to promote growth.


When support is driven into the ground next to a growing plant in order to direct its growth or support it.


If soil is in good tilth, it’s got a good ratio of nutrients, water and air. It’s healthy and with good physical properties. It can also refer to the fine crumbly surface of the soil.


Latticework used for staking, commonly used for vines and climbing plants.


Granules of a light, flaky mineral called mica, which has been expanded due to heat exposure. These granules are good at storing water and air and are often added to pots to improve the circulation of water and air.


Drenched soil, saturated with water.