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Annual - In Ohio we refer to flowers that bloom all summer long and then die when the frost hits them in the fall as annuals.  It means their life span is one year, or one season.  They will not come back up or grow the next spring.  Examples of this are Geraniums, Petunias, Impatiens.

Biennial - A plant that has a two season life cycle by dropping it’s seeds and producing new plants.  Technically it’s not the same plant that survives the winter but a new plant grown from the seed produced by the original plant.  Examples of this are Hollyhocks and Foxgloves.

Blossom End Rot - This occurs when tomato plants do not get enough calcium and do not have consistent watering. 

Clay Soil - When you try to dig a hole in your flower bed and you feel like you’re trying to dig into concrete, that’s Ohio’s clay soil.  Very hard, nutrient deficient.  See Soil Amendments.

Deadhead - removing spent blooms by either pinching them off or snipping them with clippers or scissors.  This helps to invigorate the plant, encourage it to bloom more, keep the plant looking nice, and to keep the plant more compact, less straggly.

Fertilizer - food for plants.  Comes in many forms but the most common for blooming summer annuals is water soluble -- the blue crystals you add to water to dissolve and then water your plant with it.  Fertilizer also comes in different strengths.  Read more....

Flats - garden center lingo for those rectangle plastic containers filled with 18-36 young annual flower or vegetable plants.  Usually divided in 6, 8, or 12 packs.

Heirloom - open-pollinated (non-hybrid) type of tomato, less disease resistant.  Very typical old varieties, with the seed passed down from generation to generation.

Mulch - Mulch is mainly used to suppress weeds and retain moisture and should only be spread at a 2”-3” thickness.  The best type of mulch is a Hardwood that decays and adds it’s nutrients to the soil.  Mulch should not be put down on flower beds before the ground has warmed up in the Spring, usually late May.

Packs - garden center lingo for small plastic containers of young annual flower or vegetable plants, usually 2, 3, or 4 small plants come in a pack, with 6, 8, or 12 packs filling one flat.

Peat Moss - a soil amendment to help aerate the soil and help retain moisture.

Perennial - In Ohio we refer to plants that, once planted and established in our gardens, will re-emerge the following year.  However, Ohio is Zone 5 and plants marked “Perennial” but have a Zone code of 6 or higher will not survive our cold winters.  Read more about Zones here.

Potting Soil - a lightweight blend of peat moss, soil, bark, soil aerators, and sometimes fertilizer that is easy for roots to grow quickly.  At Fisher’s Gardens, our potting soil is actually a soil-less mix, as is the same for most commercial growers.

Soil Amendments - anything to help make your garden soil better, more nutrient, more workable, easier for plant roots to grow deep.  This is usually peat moss, peat humus, compost, and various mixtures of all these things.  At Fisher’s Gardens we recommend Sweet Peet.  Read more....

Top Soil - Literally the top layer of soil in the ground, usually it’s easier to dig into, and not as compact as the soil beneath it.  You can buy bags of Top Soil in garden centers (like Fisher’s Gardens!) to add depth to your garden.

I’ll just put a disclaimer right here at the beginning....this is by no means a complete dictionary of plant, horticulture, landscaping, flower, or anything green, terms.  I just know us plant people kind of have our own lingo and that can be intimidating to young or novice gardeners.  If there’s a term you don’t understand or a process you’d like to learn more about and can’t find it on our website, PLEASE send me an email at and I will try to impart my 50+ years of plant wisdom on you.   You might find our Gardening 101 page helpful also.