Garden Lingo

If you need a quick reference or intro to gardening terms, here’s a basic list.

ANNUALS

Varieties that complete their life cycle in one year or less, requiring sowing every year. Annual flower varieties often bloom profusely and over a long period of time.

BIENNIALS

Varieties, both flowers and vegetables, that complete their life cycle in two years, usually just showing only leaf growth the first year, and flowers the next.

BABY GREENS

Young, leafy vegetables or herbs that are harvested at 2″–4″ tall.

BOLTING

The condition of premature flowering in edible crops, often making the plant unpalatable.

BURPLESS CUCUMBERS

Cucumbers that do not produce, or produce very little of a chemical called cucurbitacin, which produces a slight bitter flavor mainly concentrated in the skin and causes minor indigestion in some people.

COLD CLIMATES

Botanical Interests defines cold climates as those that experience freezing temperatures; generally, USDA zones 9 and cooler.

COLD FRAME

A four-sided frame placed on the ground or in a garden bed that has a clear top. By design, it increases temperatures over the ambient temperature and is used for growing seedlings for transplant or for food crops, extending the harvest season.

COMPANION PLANTING

Planting different plants together that benefit one another. For example, sowing a plant that attracts pollinators next to a plant that requires pollination.

COMPOST

Organic matter often made from decomposed/broken down plant material. Compost can be used to replenish soil nutrients and introduce soil biology to a growing area or simply to reduce landfill waste.

COVER CROP

Fast growing plants, usually grains, legumes, or grasses that are utilized for one or more of their soil-enhancing qualities. These crops are usually worked into the soil or removed before they produce seed.

CROP

A plant that is cultivated for harvest, like cutting flowers or vegetables.

CULTIVARS

A species that was selected or bred by humans for a particular feature. Cultivars carry a specific name in addition to the scientific name and/or common name, e.g. ‘Brandywine’.

DAYS TO EMERGE

Number of days, on average, that it will take a seedling to emerge from the soil or medium in favorable conditions.

DAYS TO HARVEST

Number of days from sowing (or transplant) to harvest.

DEADHEADING

Cutting spent flowers off a plant, encouraging the plant to bloom again; extending the bloom period.

DETERMINATE

Describes tomatoes that stop growing when fruit begins forming from the topmost flower bud, making them more compact at around 3’–4′. Most of the crop ripens within a couple weeks time, making these a great choice for canning.

DIRECT SOW

Sow seeds directly in their permanent growing space.

DISEASE RESISTANCE

Exhibiting less susceptibility or an immunity against specific diseases as compared to other varieties.

DISEASE TOLERANCE

Better ability to thrive with the stress of infection as compared to other varieties.

DROUGHT TOLERANT

Ability to survive or thrive in low water conditions. Also known as “water-wise.”

ETIOLATION

Characterized by lanky, weak, pale plant growth, resulting from low or no-light conditions.

FAIRLY DROUGHT TOLERANT

Ability to survive or thrive in low water conditions, but to a lesser extent than “drought tolerant” plants.

FROST TOLERANT CROPS

Crops that tolerate some cool weather and even frost, although the amount of tolerance varies between crops and even varieties.

FROST SENSITIVE CROPS

Crops that are not frost tolerant and will die as a result of exposure to freezing temperatures.

FRUIT

A seed capsule that emerges from a flower, such as a tomato or melon.

FULL SUN

Six or more hours of sunlight.

GERMINATION

The moment when a seed begins to grow.

GMO

Stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Commonly means genetically engineered, indicating that the variety was manipulated at the gene level in a laboratory.

GYNOECIOUS

A plant with only pollen-accepting flowers. A pollinator plant with pollen-producing flowers is required for fruit production. These varieties are generally very productive and fast to mature.

HARDENING OFF

The 7 to 10-day process of acclimating plants started indoors to outdoor conditions.

HARDINESS

The degree to which a plant can withstand cold temperatures. Botanical Interests uses “hardiness” to also indicate the lifespan of a plant, e.g. annual, biennial, or perennial.

HEAT TOLERANCE

The ability to resist heat-triggered issues like poor pollination, bitterness, premature flowering, and lack of fruit-set.

HEIRLOOM

Botanical Interests considers open-pollinated varieties over 50 years old to be heirloom.

HYBRID

Modern F1 (filial 1) type hybrid. Two specific parent varieties are bred to achieve a first generation hybrid offspring. F1 hybrids are not open-pollinated. Traditionally, “hybrid” indicates any variety that had been made by cross-pollinating, even if that was completed by hand or an insect.

INDETERMINATE

Describes tomato varieties that continue to grow and produce tomatoes all season until first frost: therefore, you can find tomatoes at all stages on the plant at one time. Also called “pole” tomatoes because supports are helpful in guiding plants that can easily reach 6′ or more.

LATIN NAME/SCIENTIFIC NAME

The two or more part name that is unique to a specific species. Scientific names are consistent in any language, whereas a species may have several common names that may even vary by region.

MEDIUM

For horticultural purposes, a medium is the material plants grow in.

MICROGREEN

Young, leafy vegetables or herbs that are harvested just above the soil line when the plants have their first pair of leaves, called cotyledons, and possibly the just-developing true leaves.

MILD CLIMATES

Botanical Interests defines mild climates as those without freezing temperatures; generally, USDA zones 10 and warmer. By using microclimates and protections some cooler USDA zones can also use mild climate sowing instructions.

MONOECIOUS

The attribute of a plant producing both pollen-producing and pollen-receiving parts.

NATIVE

Botanical Interests identifies varieties that are native to the U.S. as “native”.

ORGANIC SEED

Describes seeds grown on certified organic property, following strict USDA guidelines regarding soil quality, pest and weed control, and the use of additives like fertilizers.

OPEN POLLINATED

Varieties that produce seeds that are “true”, growing into nearly identical plants as the plant they were harvested from (if they are not cross pollinated). Unless a Botanical Interest variety is identified as a hybrid, it is open pollinated.

PART SUN/PART SHADE

3 to 6 hours of sunlight.

PARTHENOCARPIC

The attribute of a variety producing fruit without fertilization. Cultivars produce seedless fruits when flowers are unpollinated, making them ideal for greenhouse production where pollinators may be excluded. When pollinated, these types produce seeded fruit.

PERENNIALS

Varieties that live for two or more years.

PHOTOPERIODISM/DAY LENGTH RESPONSE

Refers to a reaction some organisms have to the length of day or night. In plants this reaction is usually flowering.

POLLINATION

The fertilization of a flower by wind, insect, birds, etc. where the male pollen reaches the female stigma, resulting in a seed, sometimes surrounded by an edible fruit like a pepper.

POLLINATOR

An organism that transfers pollen.

ROW COVERS

Fabric that is used to either exclude pests or raise temperatures of the area beneath it. “Remay” is a type of poly-spun row cover material commonly used in farm and garden settings and it comes in several different thicknesses. Row covers may or may not have hoops under it to create a “low tunnel”.

SCARIFICATION

The process of breaking through a hard outer covering of a seed to allow moisture to penetrate.

SELF-SOW

To drop viable seeds to the ground. In some varieties, often annuals, if seeds are allowed to drop, those seeds will germinate, perpetuating the variety. The subsequent seedlings are often referred to as “volunteers”.

SEMI-DETERMINATE

Growth type of tomatoes that falls between determinate and indeterminate types. They produce a main crop that ripens within a couple weeks, but also continue to produce up until frost.

SPROUT

Germinated seeds that are not grown in medium but instead rinsed in water and drained several times a day.

STRATIFICATION

The process of subjecting seed to a moist and cold treatment to break dormancy, which occurs naturally when seed is sown outdoors in the fall and experiences a winter period.

SUCCESSIVE SOWING

Sowing at least once more after the initial sowing, which extends the harvest. Three ways to successive sow: 1. Staggering sowings of the same crop 2. Sowing two varieties of the same crop with different maturing dates 3. Replacing one finished crop with a different crop.

TENDER PERENNIAL

A perennial that is not cold hardy in all zones. For Botanical Interests purposes, perennials hardy in only USDA zones 7 and higher are called tender perennials.

THINNING

The act of reducing extra seedlings so that remaining plants are spaced properly.

TRANSPLANTING

Transferring a plant to a different growing space.

UNTREATED SEED

Seed that does not have a chemical treatment such as fungicide applied to it.

USDA HARDINESS ZONE

The historical, average, lowest winter temperature in specific geographic US areas. Perennials are rated using the USDA zone system, indicating the coldest temperature and USDA zone in which they can survive. “Deltona is in USDA ZONE 9b”

VARIETY

A species that has naturally formed a unique characteristic, for example from cabbage (Brassica oleracea) came kale (Brassica oleracea var. viridis) and kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes) which both adapted unique, characteristics that differ from cabbage and so the variety (“var.”) name was added to the species name.

VERNALIZATION

A cold treatment, such as found in cold winter conditions, that induces flowering in some varieties.

VOLUNTEER

A plant that emerges from being self-sown or sown by an animal rather than by the gardener.

Native Plants

The Benefits of Native Plants and Flowers

Coreopsis the Florida state wildflower
Photo- Anna Sarich

Native vegetation evolved to live with the local climate, soil types, and animals. This long process brings us several gardening advantages. Native plants provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife, while contributing greatly to healthy soil and water in urban and rural areas. Native plants attract a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitats and food sources.

In the U.S., approximately 20 million acres of lawn are cultivated, covering more land than any single crop. Unfortunately, there are very few benefits to native wildlife from a manicured lawn. Likewise, gardens that mostly feature non-native species of plants are often of little benefit to wildlife.

Natural landscaping is an opportunity to reestablish diverse native plants, thereby inviting the birds and butterflies back home. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals.

A native plant garden or large planting with a diversity of trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses provides food and shelter for insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals throughout the growing season.

Leaving seed heads and plant structure throughout winter provides continuing food and shelter for many creatures and provides opportunities to observe nature up close. To underscore the importance of native plants to birds, virtually all terrestrial birds feed their young insects. Native plants provide food for insects, and insects provide food for birds. With no insects, we would have no birds.

Lantana
Photo -Anna Sarich

Native wildflowers, flowering vines, shrubs, and trees offer a wide range of colors, textures and forms to create dynamic seasonal displays. Grasses and sedges have interesting flowers and seed heads and yellow–orange fall color. Shrubs and trees have fall color and berries that persist into the winter. Choosing a wide assortment of plants ensures seasonal interest, with the bonus of attracting colorful birds, butterflies and insects.

Eastern Swallowtail

Some of the many benefits of native plantings are:

  1. Save Water:
    Once established, many native plants need minimal irrigation beyond normal rainfall.
  2. Low Maintenance:
    Low maintenance landscaping methods are a natural fit with native plants that are already adapted to the local environment. Look forward to using less water, little to no fertilizer, little to no pesticides, less pruning, and less of your time.
  3. Pesticide Freedom:
    Native plants have developed their own defenses against many pests and diseases. Since most pesticides kill indiscriminately, beneficial insects become secondary targets in the fight against pests. Reducing or eliminating pesticide use lets natural pest control take over and keeps garden toxins out of our creeks and watersheds.
  4. Wildlife Viewing:
    Native plants, birds, butterflies, beneficial insects, and interesting critters are “made for each other.” Research shows that native wildlife prefers native plants.
  5. Support Local Ecology:
    As development replaces natural habitats, planting gardens, parks, and roadsides with native plantings can provide a “bridge” to nearby remaining wild lands and wetlands.

Learn more by coming back to DeltonaGardenClub.com

Native Gardening - Goffle Brook Farms

Queen’s Tears

Queen’s tears – a striking, sturdy bromeliad

Queens Tears photos by Anna Sarich, Deltona Fl.

By Launa Herrmann

If you’re looking for an unusual plant to fill an empty pot, consider Billbergia nutans. Also known as queen’s tears or the friendship plant, this member of the Bromeliaceae family grows almost anywhere in common soil or no soil and with little care. The plant’s nearly indestructible foliage and unusual blooms provide an exotic accent to a deck, doorway or flowerbed.

History and habitat

Billbergia nutans was named for the Swedish botanist, zoologist and anatomist Gustaf Johan Billberg (1772-1844). Nutans means “nodding,” a description for its undulating blooms.

A native of Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, this bromeliad is also found in Mexico and Central America, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina.  Generally an epiphytic in its native habitat, flourishing on rocks and trees, Queen’s tears also thrives on the subtropical forest floor and in the well-drained soil of gardens or containers. As a ground cover, the plant spreads quickly growing outward from the original rhizome.

This monocot’s thick grasslike grey-green leaves with saw tooth edges and pointed tips present themselves in funnel-shaped rosettes. Each rosette, approximately 12 to 15 leaves, can reach heights of over 15 inches. Once a year, in springtime, a long arching pink stem emerges from the rosette’s center bearing one of the most striking of floral color combinations I’ve ever seen.

Must-see-to-believe blooms

Imagine this long arching pink stem topped with day-glo reddish pink pendant bracts bursting with flowers. 

And that’s not all.

The blooms hang in clusters, tubular in form, with three backward curved pink sepals with violet-blue margins, three reflexed lime-green petals outlined in navy blue to purple, and six protruding stamens one inch long with bright yellow anthers.   

The blooms exude nectar. Sticky and clear, these visible droplets are often described as “weeping,” which occurs when the plant is touched or moved. These “tears” in combination with the purple color of royalty that outlines the lime-green petals, is the reason for its common name queen’s tears. Since this bromeliad readily produces new offsets called “pups” that are dividable from the original plant and easily shared. If you are fortunate to receive “a start” from a friend, remember that most Billbergia nutans need two to three years to mature before flowering.

Easy-care tips

Mid February after a good rain

Tolerant of drought, queen’s tears can survive months without water. This plant obtains moisture and nutrients from rain or overhead watering or misting, not from the roots. If you place your plant in a pot with a saucer, do not allow water to accumulate in the saucer, which leads to root rot. Use regular garden soil or planting soil and keep the soil slightly dry. Repot and/or divide when the rosettes overgrow their container. Billbergia nutans prefers partial shade and can scorch in full sun. A location beneath an overhang or tree is best.

Queen’s tears is hardy for USDA Zones 8-11. My plant, which I obtained as an offset from a friend, grows outdoors in a pot – a sturdy survivor of several Vacaville winters.

Launa Herrmann is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener’s office at 784-1322.

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