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The Bachman's Glossary

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Acclimate - Become accustomed to a new climate and living conditions.

Acid (sour) - A pH reading measured below 7.0; most plants prefer slightly acid soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5.

Adventitious - The formation of a root or shoot from a part of the plant, which does not normally produce such structures, i.e. roots growing from the trunk.

Alkaline (sweet) - A pH reading measure above 7.0.

Angiosperm - A plant that has flowers and produces seeds within a carpel; comprise a large group of plant material (herbaceous plants, shrubs, grasses, and most trees).

Annual -  A plant whose life cycle is completed in one season.

Arborist - A person who specializes in tree maintenance.

Letter A


Backfill - A mix of native soil and planting soil to be used to fill the hole of a newly planted plant.

Balled and Burlapped (B&B) - A way of preparing plants for transplantation that includes digging up the root ball and wrapping it in burlap to protect the root ball and aid in handling.

Bare-Root - A plant harvested with no soil adhering to the roots.

Bark - An outer protective tissue of woody plants, including all tissue from the vascular cambium outward. The inner bark (the cambium) is living tissue that is vital to the plant. Bark damage is detrimental to the plant. Girdling is a guarantee of a dead tree.

Biennial - A plant whose life cycle is completed in two seasons

Biophilic Design - An extension of biophilia (our inherent need as humans to connect with nature) that incorporates natural elements, such as vegetation and natural light, into modern architecture.

Botanical Name - The scientific name for one specific plant comprised of the Genus (always capitalized) and species (not capitalized); this combination is also referred to as the Latin binomial.

Branch Collar - Trunk tissue that forms around the base of a branch between the main stem and the branch or a branch and a lateral. As a branch decreases in vigor or begins to die, the branch collar becomes more pronounced. The branch collar will heal a correctly removed branch.

Budding - In basic principle, it's similar to grafting. A bud of one plant is inserted in the bark of another plant (called the stock). If the bud and stock unite, the bud will then develop the characteristics of the plant it came from, while the stock supplies it with water and nutrients.

Letter B


Cambium - The lateral growing tissue in a tree branch or trunk which divides into the xylem (wood) and phloem (bark) cells and thus increases stem diameter; that is, the cambium is a thin layer of tissue between the bark and wood of a plant.

Carpel - The female reproductive organ of a flower, consisting of an ovary, a stigma, and usually a style.

Cascading - Spreading plants that will naturally hang or cascade down over a wall, planter edge, etc.

Chlorotic - A plant symptom showing the effect of chlorosis (i.e. yellow color in the leaves denoting a lack of chlorophyll).

Clay - Soil type made up of 50% or more clay (the smallest particles of minerals in the soil); clay soils are usually very heavy and drain slowly.

Common Name - A name given to a plant that has no scientific standing; common names are often fun and colorful, but they can also be inaccurate; the same name may apply to more than one plant and they vary regionally.

Compost - Decayed plant matter usually used as a soil conditioner or fertilizer.

Cultivar - A horticultural or cultivated variety that has originated and persisted under cultivation.

Cutting - Plants that produce prominent flowers on strong stems and are often used in flower arrangements. In horticulture: a piece—part of a root, stem, or leaf—cut from a plant and used for propagation

Letter C


Deciduous - A plant that loses its leaves each winter.

Decay - Degradation of woody or herbaceous tissue caused by biological organisms.

Dieback - Progressive dying from the tips of twigs downward.

Dormancy - The extended period when a plant rests; most plants are dormant during the winter in Minnesota's climate.

Drainage - Ability of the soil to release water.

Dripline - The line you would draw on the soil around a tree directly under its outermost branch tips. The term is used in connection with feeding, watering, and limitations upon grading or other disturbances around existing trees and shrubs.

Letter D


Erosion - The removal of soil by water and wind.

Evergreen - A plant that keep its leaves throughout the whole growing season.

Letter E


Fall Color -  The turning of the leaf color in late September or October.

Fertilizer - Any material that is used to feed growing plants.

Flower - The sexually reproductive structure of angiosperms.

Flowering Time -  The approximate time of year that flowers appear under normal weather conditions.

Fragrance -  Flowers that produce a noticeable, sweet or pleasing scent.

Frost Crack - Splitting of the tree trunk, due to abrupt changes in temperature from day to night. This typically happens in the spring.

Fungi - A low order of plant organisms many of which cause diseases in higher plants.

Fungicide - A substance used for destroying fungi.

Letter F


Genus - A plant class below the family and above the species.

Girdling Root - A root which has grown so that it encircles and constricts the trunk of the tree; may result in decline or death of a plant.

Grade - The level of the land or the deviation from level.

Grafting - A method of propagating plants. A section from one plant (scion) is inserted into a branch of another plant (stock). If the graft works, the two grow together as one plant, only if the cambium layers of both scion and stock make contact. If the graft takes, the scion develops foliage, flowers, and fruits just like the plant it came from; the stock supplies water and nutrients as before.

Groundcover -  Plants that are low growing and that spread together forming a solid carpet or ground covering effect.

Growing Season - The period between the last spring frost and the first fall frost.

Growth Rate - The measured vertical and horizontal increase in height, spread, and diameter during one growing season.

Gymnosperm - A cone-bearing plant; conifer.

Letter G


Hand Dig Zone - A 2' wide strip of land on either side of a marked utility line.

Hardening Off - Slowly exposing a plant to cooler temperatures to help it adapt to outdoor conditions. This process is also sometimes called acclimating.

Hardy - The ability for a plant to survive under extremes of cold or drought. Refers to plant capability of withstanding winter conditions in a particular area. The U.S. is divided into ten Hardiness Zones with Minnesota in Hardiness Zones 3-5. The lower the number the hardier a plant must be to survive. For a map of hardiness zones, click here.

Hedge -  Plants recommended to create a uniform screen or border.

Heeling-In - Temporarily storing plants by covering or burying the roots with moist soil, sawdust, or similar material. Plants are heeled in before planting to keep the bare roots or root balls from drying out.

Height & Spread -  Refers to the average mature size achieved under normal growing conditions in the stated zone.

Herb - This term is usually applied to plants that are valued for culinary, aromatic, or medicinal purposes; many herbs are also ornamental.

Herbaceous -  Non-woody plants that die back to the ground each winter and regrow the next season.

Herbicide Any material toxic to plants, generally used for killing weeds.

Horticulture - The science of specifically treating plants in order to develop their full individual potentials.

Horticulturist - A person who specializes in tree maintenance.

Humus - Organic matter that has broken down in the soil.

Hybrid - A plant that results from crossing two closely related plants; hybrid plants do not come true from their own seed.

Letter H


Inorganic - Derived from non-living material.

Interface - The area where two soils meet that is quite different and can cause problems with drainage, aeration, and root development.

Insecticide - Substance used for killing insects.

Invasive - Any plant that is difficult to control.

Letter I


Landscape Designer - A person who acts as a project manager that specializes in the overall layout, design, and construction of ornamental plantings and landscape features.

Leaching - The loss of mineral elements from the soil by the downward movement of water.

Loam - An equal mixture of sand and silt, with a somewhat smaller proportion of clay.

Letter L
Letter M


Macronutrient - Essential nutrients used in relatively large amounts by plants; plant macronutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, oxygen, magnesium, hydrogen, calcium, and carbon.

Mass Planting - Plants that grow and look well together in masses of the same plant type.

Mature - The stage when a plant normally produces flowers or fruit.

Meristem - Any tissue where the cells are actively dividing and elongating (growth).

Micronutrient - Essential nutrients used in relatively small amounts by plants; plant micronutrients include boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.

Mulch - Any material put on the surface of the soil for looks; used to help cool the soil or to reduce weeds, erosion, or evaporation.

Multiple Stress Factors - Situations in which more than one soil, environmental, biological, or cultural factor is negatively impacting the vitality and/or condition of plants.


Native Plant -  This term is poorly defined. It is usually used to refer to plants that were found growing in a given area before man arrived and began introducing non-native plants. Although the word 'native' is often used as positive and 'non-native' as negative, there are invasive natives and very well-behaved non-natives; see "Non-native or Exotic Plant."

Native Wildflower - An annual, biennial, or perennial that has a significant ornamental flower, that grows naturally in any given region and is generally low maintenance like any native plant. Native wildflowers that are sold at garden centers are hybridized versions of the ones found in the wild.

Needle Drop - The natural shedding of the oldest, inner foliage each fall on evergreens.

Needs Pruning - Plants that require pruning a minimum of once a year in order to maintain a controlled and neat appearance.

Nitrogen (N)One of the essential plant foods. It helps promote strong vegetative growth and good dark green leaf color.

Nomenclature - A regulated orderly system for applying names to plants.

Non-native or Exotic Plant - This term is  poorly defined; usually used to refer to any plants that were not originally growing in an area (i.e. when man arrived); see "Native Plant."

N-P-K - Designates the ratio of Nitrogen (N) to Phosphorus (P) to Potassium (K); the three major nutrients.

Letter N


On Center - A measuring technique used in landscaping; it's the distance between two plants, measured from the center of one plant to the center of another plant.

Organic - Derived from living material.

Overseeding - The planting of grass seed directly into existing turf or soil; most commonly used to fill in bare spots, improve turf density, and enhance turf color.

Letter O


Perennial -  A plant that lives more than two growing seasons; usually herbaceous and dormant during the winter.

Pest - Collective term for any insect, plant pathogen (bacteria, fungus, virus), or weed.

Pesticide - Substance used to control any pests, including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides.

pH - A measure of acidity or alkalinity of the soil on a scale ranging from 0 to 14; neutral soil has a pH of 7.0.

Phloem - The inner bark of woody plants which transports sugars downward.

Photosynthesis - The production of sugar from carbon dioxide and water with the aid of light.

Phosphorus (P)One of the essential plant foods. It helps stimulate root growth and plant vigor. Also is know for promoting flowering and fruit.

Pinching/Deadheading - Pinching is a process of removing the terminal (or tip) growth on a plant in order to encourage new growth; deadheading is removal of the spent flowers to encourage new growth and blooms.

Plant Bed - Planting areas such as foundation plant beds, shrub borders, and perennial gardens where multiple plants can be used in conjunction with each other. Plants recommended are usually smaller or more controlled in growth.

Plant Saucer - A ridge of well tamped soil encircling the new plant to create a water trough made of existing soil (except sand) to help prevent washing out after watering.

Planting Soil - Black dirt with sand, manure, or peat blended in as needed and includes pulverizing and screening.

PollinationIn flowering plants, pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anther (male part) to the stigma (female part); pollination is necessary for the flower to form seeds and fruit; some flowers are perfect (having all the necessary parts) and other flowers are imperfect (separate male and female flowers).

Positive Grade - A uniform height of soil/mulch that reduces in height, uniformly, as you get farther from the house, which allows water to run away from the home to help alleviate water damage.

Potassium (K) - One of the essential plant foods. It is important in plant water relations and the regulation of many physiological processes.  Simply put, it strengthens the plant.

Precut or Precutting - The three-step process to remove a branch before the finished cut is made so as to prevent splitting or bark tearing into the parent stem. The branch is first undercut, and then cut from top before the final cut.

Private Buried Lines - Electric, gas, cable, phone, or water (sprinkler) lines that are unmarked by the public utility companies. These are to be marked before installation and are the responsibility of the homeowner. These lines could be anything from a gasline to a BBQ or an electric line to patio lighting. A private locator will have to be hired to locate all private lines.

Propagation - The breeding of specimens of a plant by natural processes from the parent stock.

Proven Winners -  A combination of the most colorful, fastest growing, versatile plants that undergo a rigorous, two-to-three-year plant selection process that considers flowering, growth habit, disease resistance, and garden performance. Great for beginner gardeners.

Pruning - The judicious removal of plant parts to increase usefulness, beauty, or vigor.

Pulverized Soil - Straight black dirt intended to fill holes and low areas. It does not have any manure, peat, or sand added.

Letter P


Respiration - A biological process that releases energy in cells for live and growth purposes. The intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide. The oxidation of sugar within the cell with the release of energy for plant growth.

Requires Support -  Plants that do not cling to walls by themselves and require stakes or trellises to climb.

Rock Garden -  Plants that are small, compact, slower growing and do not spread as vigorously.

Root - An underground plant organ performing the functions of anchorage and of water and mineral absorption.

Root Bound - The impacted and circling root system that often develops when a tree or shrub has been grown in a container that is too small for normal and uninterrupted root expansion; also referred to as 'pot bound.'

Root Collar - The area of a tree where tissues differentiate into the stem and root. Normally, this area appears swollen or tapered and is located near or at soil level.

Root Flare - The enlarged area of a tree where plant tissue begins to differentiate between the tree trunk and its roots.

Root Hair Zone - The area of a root, near the tip, giving rise to root hairs. Improper handling of plants can cause damage too these microscopic root hairs, which may result in the decline or death of a plant.

Letter R


Sand - The largest particles of mineral that make up soil.

Scale - A relative measurement (i.e. 1/8" on a design plant = 1' in real life).

Screen - Trees and shrubs that are useful for hiding unwanted sights and partially blocking the wind. Winter effect is less with deciduous plants due to loss of leaves.

Seed - A fertilized ripened ovule that contains an embryo of angiosperms and gymnosperms usually protected by a tough seed coat.

Seed Viability - A seed capable of living and developing normally.

Silt - The medium-size pieces of mineral that makes up soil; smaller particles than sand but larger than clay.

Shingling - A method of layering erosion blankets or sod on a slope to prevent water from "undermining" the material.

Soil - The layer of fine material on the crust of the earth composed of tiny pieces of minerals, living and non-living organisms, water, and air.

Soil Amending - Includes removal of existing soil to a 3" depth, placement of amendment item (ex. planting soil or peat), and rototiling to blend the amendment with the native soil.

Soil Structure - A characteristic that describes the manner sand, clay, and silt particles are grouped together.

Soil Texture - Composition of the soil determined by the proportion of clay, silt, and sand.

Species - A group of closely related, structurally similar, naturally interbreeding populations.

Specimen -  A plant that is recommended for use on its own in a lawn or open space.

Strain - A genetic group of plants within a species which reproduce quite similar progeny.

Stress - A reversible disruption of the normal physiological activities of a plant.

Stunt - An abnormal reduction in the growth rate and/or size of various morphological features of a plant (e.g., leave size, stem caliper, root system, annual twig growth).

Sucker - A shoot arising from a root, rhizome, or stem beneath the ground.

Sunscald -  Dead or injured areas of a plant due to intense sunshine or fluctuating winter temperatures.

Letter S


Tamp - To firm soil or backfill gently about roots when planted.

Tip Pruning - A pruning method typically used on younger plants to encourage branch growth and formation.

Transplant - To move a plant from one place to another.

Tracing - Shaping a wound by removing loose bark from in and around a wound.

Transpiration - Loss of water from a plant. Heat and drying winds cause high water loss and may result in damage.

Tree Wrap - Used to prevent sunscald. Wrap October 1st. Remove April 15th. Wrap all newly planted shade and ornamental trees (except Birch).

Letter T


Vigor -  An organism's genetic capacity for survival or growth.

Vitality - A dynamic condition that distinguishes the living from the nonliving; used as a metric to conceptualize the relative health of a plant in response to its site condition.



Wall Cover -  Vines that can be used to solidly cover a wall or fence. These are either self-clinging or require support and often take several seasons to cover the entire surface.

Water-Sprout - A rapid-growing shoot arising from either a latent of adventitious bud on the lower part of the trunk or large branch.

Weed - Any plant growing where it isn't wanted, generally of no economic or aesthetic value.

Windscreen -  Plants that will grow together and tolerate strong winds year round without damaging the plant.

Woody -  A plant with bark on older stems; woody stems usually survive over winter and increase in size each year.

Wound - The opening that is created any time the tree's protective bark covering is penetrated, cut, or removed injuring or destroying living tissue. Pruning a live branch creates a wound, even when the cut is properly made.

Letter W


Xylem -  The tissue on the inside of the cambium which transports water and nutrients upward from the roots. It is located centrally in the stem and becomes the wood of the plant.



Zones -  Area in which the plant may be expected to grow. Click here for zone map.

Letter Z
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