What's your gardening terminology IQ

By JM Davis

Gardening, Terminology

Garden Terminology – (Updated January 21, 2024)

We are updating Garden terminology throughout the 2024 season. If we’ve missed any terms or you have questions, please contact us

How your plants grow and regenerate

Annual: Is a plant that naturally germinates from a seed, blooms, produces seed, and dies in one growing season. In the perfect environment, some annuals can survive more than one season. Some plants can be cloned, which ensures the plant’s continuous growth. However, neither controlling the environment indefinitely nor cloning is part of nature.

Even if the seeds from a plant drop and new plants grow without human intervention, the plant is still classified as an annual because the original plant dies within one growing season.

Biennial: Is a plant that germinates, grows, overwinters (usually cold climates work best with biennials), and then produces seed in the second growing season. Herb plants such as Mullein grow leaves the first year. You can use the leaves medicinally and in teas without killing the plant. The second year, the Mullein herb returns, grows leaves, flowers, and seeds, then dies. All parts of the plant can be used medicinally and in teas in the second year, for the seeds drop to replant themselves in the same area. You can also collect the seeds and plant them wherever you desire.

Other plants, such as carrots and onions, need to be left alone in order to gain seeds. In the first year, the root, in this case the onion or carrot, forms. The plant stores its energy in the root and goes dormant into winter. The following Spring the plant sends off above ground growth, creating spring seeds. You may consider these types of plants as annuals if you intend to eat the root each year, as they need to be replanted annually. However, according to classifications, they are biennial because it takes two years to gain the seeds.

Perennials: Are plants that live for multiple years. With most living 10 or more years. Think blueberry bushes, asparagus, trees, grapes, etc. You normally purchase perennials in a tree or root form. And they don’t normally produce a crop the first year. However, they require the least amount of effort in the long run.

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