16 Common Gardening Terms You Should Know

Annual vs. Perennial

Whether a plant lives one year or more under optimal conditions determines if it's an annual or a perennial. Annuals have a one-year life cycle or less. Perennials return after three years.

Hardiness Zone

Perennials, trees, and shrubs have a minimum survival temperature. USDA's Hardiness Zone System rates cold tolerance from 1 to 13.

Cool vs. warm

These terms appear on seed packets and websites if you grow a vegetable garden. Cool-season and warm-season vegetables are different. Knowing yours will help you decide when to plant vegetables outside.

Host Plant

Jessica Walliser, author of Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden, says butterflies don't lay eggs on any plant. "She's very particular about finding a host plant for her young. She searches by smell and sight."

Determinate vs. Indeterminate

Determinate tomatoes are best for containers or short growing seasons. When canning tomatoes, it's helpful to have them all ripen at once. Determinate tomatoes work well.


Perennial growers in USDA Zone 8 and warmer should know this word. So many perennials are only recommended for cooler zones. There's a reason.

Fertile vs. Sterile Plants

Some plants reproduce, others don't. Pollinated fertile plants produce seeds or fruit. Sterile plants produce nectar but no seeds or fruit.

Rebloom vs. Everblooming

Several plants bloom per season. Reblooming plants bloom twice per season, usually weeks apart. Reblooming hydrangeas bloom early to midsummer and late summer to fall.

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