A glossary is defined as a list defining a collection of words. Usually it is related to a specific subject or topic. Today I am going to define and explain some of the words gardener’s use.

1. BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS: Usually you will hear “Bt” as shorthand for bacteria that a gardener can buy that kills caterpillars without harming people, pets, or birds.  There are several strains for specific pests.

2. BOTRYTIS: This is sometimes call gray or blight mold, a fungous that attacks a number of species of plants.  A good example are the buds that dry up on our peonies in spring. Bob Gilmour puts Bordeaux on his PEONY stumps in the fall and on the new plants as they come up in the spring.  It has many trade names but the active ingredient is copper sulfate. It is harmful to fish and comes as a liquid spray, a dust, or a wettable powder. If you see an infected stem, cut it off at ground level and do not put it in your compost pile.

          Copper sulfate can also be used for disease control on potatoes, tomatoes, fruits, flowering shrubs, and shade trees. ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS RECOMMENDED PROCEDURES.

3. BULB, BULBILS, AND BULBLETS: Bulbs are resting plants with a short thick stem enclosed in layers of leaves. Bulbils are small and bead like and develop in the leaf axils. A good example is some of the LILIES. It may take several years before they are mature enough to bloom.  Bulblets develop off the main stem underground.  This is true of a number of bulbs. An example is the Jonquil also known as a Daffodil that has to be divided every few years as it becomes too crowded.

4. CONTACT, SYSTEMIC, and SELECTIVE HERBICIDES: Contact herbicides kill only the part of the plant they touch while systemic herbicides are taken up by the roots or leaves, and penetrate the entire plant “system”. Selective chemicals are designed to kill certain plants while sparing others. Many of our lawn weed killers are selective in that they kill dandelions, ground ivy, henbit, etc. but do not kill the cool season grasses such as bluegrass and turf type tall fescue. Roundup is an example of a non-selective herbicide that will kill most plants it is applied to.

5. PERLITE OR VERMICULITE? Both products may be found in potting mixes. Perlite is the white, very light pieces of volcanic rock that does not change the soil but lightens its texture and improves it ability to hole water and air. Vermiculite is made from mineral deposits, and does the same thing.  However, there are asbestos like particles in vermiculite so one should dampen before working with it. I keep my bulbs in vermiculite during winter but I put on a mask when working with it.

6. TOP DRESSING OR SIDE DRESSING: Top dressing is spreading new soil, compost or fertilizer on the top area of our potted plants.  Sometimes when a plant is too large to move or would be harmed by disturbing, let the soil on top become quite dry and then scoop it off without harming the roots. Use a fork to “aerate” the next layer and then replace with fresh soil.  Side dressing in the garden, I dig a shallow ditch along the side of a row of plants and add fertilizer and then cover it up so that rain will later take it down to the roots.

7. JUGLONE: This is a chemical produced by walnut trees, especially the black walnut that prevents other plants from growing in that area.  Tomatoes are very sensitive. Dr. Cindy Haynes from Iowa State University has written, “Other members of the Nightshade Family such as pepper, eggplant, petunia, and flowering tobacco are also susceptible to juglone. Rhubarb, peonies, lilies, asparagus, blueberry, columbine, mums, false indigo, and cabbage may also be affected by juglone. These plants should not be planted near black walnuts, as they will grow poorly and may die.”

          “While the list of susceptible plants is impressive, there are many plants that are considered "resistant" to the compound. Vegetables like corn, beans, onions, beets, and carrots grow well in the vicinity of black walnut as long as they receive ample sunlight, water, and nutrients. Shade tolerant annuals and perennials such as begonia, pansy, bleeding heart, Astilbe, sweet woodruff, coral bells, hosta, Jacob's ladder, Solomon seal, lungwort, spiderwort, and violets are also considered resistant to juglone. Even several bulbs like crocus, snowdrop, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, daffodil, squill, and tulip are not normally injured.” (Reprinted by permission from Horticulture & Home Pest News for June 14, 2002 .) If you have Black Walnuts, your County Extension Office has a NEBGUIDE listing the plants that are not affected.

8. BRACTS, SEPALS, AND PETALS: Sepals are an outer set of floral leaves around buds to protect them. Usually they are green but in a number of plants they may be brightly colored while the true petals may be very small. In Poinsettias, the true flowers are the little yellow “knobs” in the center while the bright reds are bracts (modified leaves). The colors we see in Bougainvillea are bracts and one has to hunt for the true petals.

9. STOLON OR RHIZOME: A Stolon is an above ground shoot that grows along the surface, sometimes call a runner. A good example is a Strawberry. A Rhizome is growing under the surface, a horizontal underground stem. Examples are Blood Root, and Jack-in-the-pulpit.

10. SUBSHRUB: This is a woody plant that dies to the ground in winter and then returns in the spring. Butterfly bushes are good examples in Nebraska .

Copyright 2009