GARDENING WORDS WE USE
lots of words and jargon we use but many times do not clarify what they
mean. Today I will try to define some of those words.
This abbreviation (which always has the small t) stands for “Bacillus
thuringensis”. This is a bacterium that kills caterpillars and the
larvae of Mosquitoes, but does not harm fish, birds, or pets. It will also
kill the larvae of Butterflies such as the Monarch so one must be careful
to spray only the “bad guys. For plants it is available as a spray or a
powder and will not hurt the eggs or adults. I recommend you add a few
drops of soap to the spray to help it stick to the leaves of the plant. It
is also available as a liquid, pellets, or donuts for use in a pond or
birdbath to kill the larvae of mosquitoes.
pesticides go into the cells of plants and is distributed within the
plant. A systemic insecticide is a product that enters the cells of plants
to poison those pests who chew. It can be put on the top of the soil and
watered in and then taken up by the roots system and distributed
throughout the plant. These products should not be used on plants you are
using for food as it will be present in the leaves and fruits.
I use a systemic insecticide on my houseplants when I bring them in
from outside and then as required during the winter. A systemic
insecticide can be used on flowering plants but some are concerned about
its use outside because of the possible effect it has on pollinators.
Imidacloprid is a soil drench type of systemic insecticide that is used
for trees and shrubs. There are also systemic fungicides that help a plant
fight off diseases.
used in traps are a subject of debate. They are hormones to attract
certain pests into a trap of some sort.
All of the authors agree they “attract”, but some say they
bring in bugs from afar to increase the number in your yard.
Quite often the traps are used to get counts of how many insects
are in the area.
are small, light, white pieces of volcanic rock full of holes caused by
the heat. It lightens the
potting soil and improves its ability to hold air and water.
is a light material made from
mineral deposits and is used as a soil additive to lighten the soil and
help it hold air and water. I like to keep my bulbs over winter in
containers of vermiculite. I also like to check during the winter and
perhaps spray some moisture to keep everything from drying out. Most good
potting mixes and seed starting mixes contain vermiculite and perlite.
is a specialized leaf that frames a plants true flower.
They may be leaf like or can be very colorful.
They usually live longer than the blossoms.
A good example is the Poinsettias red bracts. The true flowers are
the little yellow “bumps”. Some
of the “flowers” on Bromeliads are really bracts.
is an isolated thickening of tissue. Directions when dealing with
propagating cactus often say “remove the young plant and let it be in
dry air long enough to form a callus. As the cut plant part dries, it
forms a hard surface thus preventing the loss of sap and sealing out
water, fungi, and bacteria. Roots
will form from that surface and not be as liable to rot.
is a swollen stem part that lies horizontally just beneath the soil
surface. Many of our plants
reproduce this way. There are
short and thick ones and long slender ones. Thick ones are full of stored
food by fall and can be divided into pieces to produce new plants in the
late fall or spring. Some of these are Asters, Phlox, Gallardia, Mums,
Daisies, and Rhubarb. The slender ones have nodes that produce new plants
at that point. An example are
some of the grasses.
is a method of propagation. It
can be done with houseplants or with shrubs.
If you want a shrub from your grandmother and you have a little
time, there are many plants that will form roots along their stem.
Find a lower stem and place it on the ground to make sure it
reaches. Then scratch the side that will be against the soil to stimulate
root growth. Then I like to
place a rock or brick above that area to be sure it touches the ground all
of the time. Some shrubs root
faster than others, but you can check by a slight tug to see if the new
roots are there and fastened in. There is an advantage of this over
propagating by cuttings. Also, this is easier than taking cuttings as the
new plant is always being “fed” while it develops its roots.
REPRODUCTION is the use of
stems, leaves, or roots to produce new plants.
One reason for this is to produce a plant exactly like the parent.
Seeds may have been pollinated by a quite different plant and could vary
in size, shape, color, and other characteristics. In this way valuable
varieties are preserved making a standardized product. You may have
noticed after getting a new variety that it may have a sign attached
saying “propagation is prohibited”. Examples of this are fruit crops,
nuts, and many of the newest flowering and ornamental crops.