New to gardening? Unsure what the difference is between a perennial and an annual? Deciduous and evergreen? A tree and a shrub? Here are some of the more common gardening terms you will encounter and what they mean.
Be sure to check with one of Swanson's trained nursery professionals for other gardening questions and to help you select the right plant for your
a plant that retains its foliage throughout the year. Needled evergreens (conifers) include firs, pines and junipers; broadleaved evergreens
include rhododendrons, boxwood and laurels.
a plant that loses its foliage at the end of the growing season. Most shade and fruit trees are included in this category, as are shrubs
like lilac and forsythia.
a plant whose life span exceeds one year. While this term applies to trees and shrubs as well, it is most often used to refer to those garden
ornamentals, often flowering, which die back to the ground each winter and then return to active growth in the spring.
a plant that completes its life cycle in one year. Petunias, impatiens, etc. and most vegetables are examples of annual plants. They must be
replanted each year (some are self-seeding).
a term used to define plants which have no permanent above ground structure.
Hostas and delphiniums are examples of herbaceous perennials.
a plant that has a permanent above ground structure, like a trunk or stems. Maples, roses and most other trees and shrubs are examples of
a large, woody plant having a distinct trunk. Small trees generally range in height from 12 to 25 feet; medium sized trees from 25 to 40
feet and large trees can exceed 40 feet.
a woody plant with little or no distinct trunk and with multiple branching beginning near its base, generally under 15 feet tall.
“Partial Shade” - a location receiving less than 5 hours of direct sunlight per day during the growing season (April - August), or receiving only sun filtered through trees. Most plants preferring partial shade should be shaded from direct afternoon sun between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.
“Full Shade” locations receive no direct sun or sun only in the very early morning or late evening.
locations receive 6 hours or more sunlight per day during the growing season (April - August) generally during the miday
and afternoon portions when the heat and light intensity is the strongest.
a term used to describe and rate a plant's ability to withstand climate conditions, most often winter cold. This term is usually used in conjunction
with a zone number, e.g., “hardy from zones 3 to 8.”
a term used to refer to a series of regional climatic conditions formulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to classify plant hardiness.
Puget Sound region is generally considered to
be within USDA Zone 8.
Sunset® publications use their own zone system to consider more specific local conditions; most of Puget Sound
is in Sunset’s Zones 4 to 5.
a plant that is unlikely to survive our winter weather outdoors.
“Dormant ” - a period of inactive growth which usually coincides with winter. Deciduous plants will have lost their foliage and herbaceous plants will have
died back to the ground.