Glossary of Gardening Terms

Having perennial problems with gardening gibberish? We’re here to weed out the gobbledygook and clear up confusion with a quick glossary of common gardening terms for you.

Home » how to
What does that mean then!?

The gardening terms glossary

Annual – Plants which are sown, flower and perish within one season/year.

Biennial – Plants which take two years to complete their life-cycle. During the first year only the roots, stems and leaves grow. In the second year they’ll flower, produce seeds and die.

Perennial – Plants that continue growing for more than two years. Usually the top of the plant dies back each winter and regrows the following spring from the same root system, though some plants are evergreen.  

Hardy – Plants that can withstand winter frosts without protection. You can sow Hardy Annuals direct outside in Autumn and Spring.

Half-Hardy – Plants that are able to grow outdoors throughout the year, but may need a little tender loving care (usually in the form of horticultural fleece) to get them through the coldest winter nights.

Tender – Plants that can’t survive temperatures below 1oC. It’s best to start Tender Annuals off indoors in late spring for planting out after all risk of frost has passed. Pot up any Tender Perennials and overwinter in a frost-free environment, then plant back outside when the danger of frost has passed.

Cut-and-come-again – You don’t need to grow some crops to a mature size, for example lettuces. With these crops you can cut or pick baby leaves and the plant will keep growing for more harvests to come. Flowers can also be cut-and-come-again, Hardy Annuals are a prime example, and are perfect for the cut flower grower!

F1 Variety – These plants are the results of crosses between two distinct varieties, selected for their vigorous growth, disease-resistance and prolific crops that mature simultaneously.

Sowing direct – Sowing seeds straight into veg plots, borders or outdoor containers rather than starting them off under cover.

Sowing under cover – Sowing seeds into seed trays or modules indoors. This allows you to sow earlier and protect seedlings from pests whilst they get established.

Pricking out/Potting on – The process of moving seedlings sown in seed trays or modules to a larger pot. This allows them to have enough space to grow without competition from other seedlings.

Hardening off – For plants started off indoors, the seedlings will need to be given a chance give seedlings a chance to get used to life in the great outdoors. You can do this over a period of a week by moving the seedlings outside in the morning and bringing them in at night before planting out.

Bolting/going to seed – This is when a plant enters the flowering stage in order to produce seeds; generally triggered in response to stresses such as extreme temperatures or extended dry periods. Vegetables that reach this stage are usually tough, woody or bitter in taste.

Tilth – Used to describe the condition and texture of the soil surface. Create a ‘good’ tilth by raking and levelling the soil, removing any large lumps or stones in the process, in preparation for seed sowing.

Now you know! 🙂

This glossary is a work in progress! Please get in touch on Insta with any gardening terms that you’d like explained 🙂


WIN a lucky-dip addition to your next box by sharing your plant pictures with us on Instagram. Use the hashtag #SeedPantryGrowClub or tag us @seedpantry to enter.

Subscribe to the Grow Club box for food or flowers each month… Curious? Come check out all of this month’s options!