Jargon Buster

Were the original gardeners having a laugh when they named everything? From ‘herbaceous’ to ‘vermiculite’, most gardening terms seem designed to confuse. Fear not. This is the Sproutl Jargon Buster: an ongoing resource to make it easy for all of us to understand and enjoy the world of gardening.


Acidic and Alkaline soil

When designing and planting your garden, you need to know whether the soil is acid or alkaline, as different plants thrive in different soils. The soil pH is a number that describes how acid or alkaline your soil is. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. An acid soil has a pH value below 7.0 and above 7.0 the soil is alkaline.


Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This helps the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.


A plant that will produce fruit or flowers for a single season, before falling over and dying. You'll need to buy them every year.



Plants - particularly trees - that are dormant or not actively-growing. These plants are removed from their initial growing soil when they are transported, leaving their roots ‘bare’ so that they don’t have to adapt from one soil to another when it reaches your gaff.

Bedding plants

These plants - such as violas and sweet peas - offer instant pops of temporary colour. Perfect for beds, borders, containers and hanging baskets.


A plant that will grow in the first year, flower or fruit the second year, then pass away.

Biodynamic Demeter

If you see this on a product it means that it has official Demeter Biodynamic Certification. This means that it has added to biodiversity and preserved ecosystems while being produced.



A natural fibre extracted from the outer husk of a coconut. Used to help soil retain water, while allowing drainage and aeration.



A plant that loses its leaves at the end of the growing season, then grows fresh new ones at the beginning of the next.



A plant that keeps its leaves throughout the year.



Generally refers to how Bruce Willis your plant is. As a rule, “hardy” will survive to -15ºC, “frost hardy” will survive to -5ºC, “half hardy” will survive to 0ºC, and tender will give up the ghost below 5ºC.


Perfect for spring/summer colour in a border. Herbaceous means a small to medium sized perennial plant, without wood stems above ground—such as Californian poppies or salvia. Herbaceous plants' stems die back in late autumn and early winter, their roots surviving below ground during winter, before shooting again in Spring.


The outer shell of a coconut, used for mulch and compost due to its water retaining properties.



An effective soluble form of magnesium sulphate that can be immediately absorbed by the plants in your garden. pH-neutral, so won’t cause soil acidification.



A fertile soil made from clay, silt and sand.



A popular deposit resembling soil, formed by the partial decomposition of vegetable matter in the wet environment of bogs and fens, and often cut out and dried for use as fuel and in gardening. Read more about why we won’t sell it.


A plant that will grow and produce fruit or flowers every year, year after year. Like Morgan Freeman.


Made out of volcanic rock, perlite is used to help soil retain water. It also adds good drainage to avoid water-logging.


Full Shade

True shade plants, such as many ferns, can perish in too much sun. Filtered light, such as that found beneath a tree canopy, is a good setting for full shade plants. This type of light is referred to as dappled shade and offers many gardening opportunities. Most full shade plants can tolerate some direct sun in the morning or evening hours, but not mid-day.

Partial Shade

A plant that needs 3-6 hours of direct sunshine per day.


Excellent for adding permanent structure to your outside space, a shrub means a small-to-medium-sized perennial plant with multiple woody stems above the ground — such as lavender.


A substance that is able to dissolve in water.

Full Sun

A plant that needs direct sunshine for at least 6-10 hours a day.


UV Resistant

The ability of a material to resist ultraviolet light or sunlight, to prevent discolouring.



A mineral used for insulation and for water-retention in soil.

If you come across some jargon we haven't covered, email us at helpme@sproutl.com or message us on Instagram. We’ll un-jargon it in no time.