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Glossary Of Horticultural Terms

This glossary covers terms used on this website.

3L, 5L, 12L etc. – This refers to the pot size in litres by volume. As a guide, 3L approximates to a childs beach bucket;  12L to a domestic bucket;  85L to a laundry basket.

150-200cm; 300-350cm etc. – These height categories refer to the height of the plant on purchase in centimetres. These sizes are approximate and depend on growing conditions during the season. 

Bare root – a bare root tree, dug from the field in the dormant season, with no soil remaining around the roots. The roots must be kept moist and free from frost until planted. A more cost effective way of planting trees, they are only available from November – March.

Rootballed - a tree dug up with a ball of soil adhering to the roots, usually wrapped in a jute/nylon square. These establish well and are usually used for large specimens or those that dislike bare root transplanting. They are only available from November – March.

Rootstock – When buying a fruit tree, the rootstock used is a major factor in determining the vigour, and hence the final size, of the fruit tree.  For ornamental trees the rootstock is usually a seedling of the parent species.

Maiden – a one year old grafted tree that has had no formal pruning.

Family tree – A tree, usually apple or pear, with 3 varieties grafted onto a 1 metre high stem. This tree will produce 3 different varieties of fruit and doesn’t require a pollination partner.

¼ standard – A tree with a short stem of around 60cm.

½ standard – A tree with around 80-100cm of clear stem.

Standard – A tree would be called a standard when there is a clear stem, or ‘trunk’, before the head of branches begins. In this case around 1.5 metres of clear stem.

Heavy Standard – Denotes a standard tree with a thick trunk, a tree usually over 5 years old.

Feathered – A term used to describe a tree with smaller, thin branches, growing out of the main, single, stem of the tree. These can then be removed by the customer to determine the height of clear stem they require. Refers only to younger trees, less than 3-years old.

Multistem – Three or more stems breaking at, or near, ground level. A form often found in trees with ornamental bark. Generally, they will gain height more slowly than their single stemmed equivalents so are useful for smaller gardens.

Grafting - a method of asexual plant propagation where the tissues of one plant are encouraged to fuse with those of another. The grafting technique is used to ensure that varieties are true to type. Living, viable material, called the scion, is removed from the variety you wish to propagate, (e.g. Bramley apple), and grafted onto the chosen  rootstock to produce a new plant.

Top Grafted- refers to grafting the required variety onto a longer stem.

Pollination group – This refers to the flowering period. Choose trees from the same or adjacent groups to ensure good pollination. For more information on pollination see ‘Pollination Explained’.

Self-fertile – A fruit tree that doesn’t require a pollination partner to produce fruit. For more information on pollination see ‘Pollination Explained’.

Triploid – A triploid fruit tree requires two partners for complete pollination. For more information on pollination see ‘Pollination explained’.