Word Matters

Of all the classes I took in college, where I majored in English and Horticulture, none had a bigger impact than Vocabulary. The subject fascinated me then, made it much easier to understand other words, and still perks my curiosity. Geek that I am, I might be the only adult you know that still looks up the meaning and origin of unfamiliar words when I meet them. Recently I have been working on a design imprint for my small business, GardenMama, Inc. and not unsurprisingly, the focus is words. Specifically, words from horticulture (including propagation) and plant names will flow down the side of tote bags and shirts, to start. My list and arrangements of words run long and complex, but some will definitely make the cut. In reviewing these blogs I found that when a term seems out of the mainstream of conversation, I use a synonym or explain it. I also found that these are some of the most interesting words to say and spell. Think of this blog as a handy reference glossary at your fingertips and a preview of what is sure to be eye-catching apparel.

Callous. Thickened cells form on the base of cuttings in response to wounding and give rise to roots. Without the opportunity to lie out in the air after cutting to develop these cells, many succulent plants will leak at their base and fail to root. Similarly, hardwood cuttings are stored for a period of months for the callous to form and so the roots. I have a friend who swears by letting rose cuttings ‘heal over’ as he calls it before applying Hormex and sticking them into a rooting bed.

Clone. An exact reproduction of a plant created without seed. These duplicates are genetically identical to their source, often called the mother plant. There’s a great term – maybe I can work it into the design.

Hormones. Besides being the punch line for insulting jokes, these substances direct cells like traffic lights. Every living thing has an internal control panel that regulates growth and development through the manufacture and distribution of hormones.

Photosynthesis. A word that inspires awe because of its subtle power that changes the world daily. Simply put, this word refers to the way plants use solar power to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrate food that sustains them. Millions of dollars are spent annually in attempts to harness this power and its elements. We need it.

Propagate. Here, this wonderful word means the processes used to produce new plants. But its scope is as broad as the plant world itself and as deep as human technology can reach. Any plant part can be used to create offspring, from the tiny cells of tissue culture to giant bulbs, from seeds and cuttings to layers and proliferations.

Stoma. Like the Greek stomat (mouth), these plant leaf structures open and close. And like the human mouth, stomata can work for good and evil almost simultaneously. They take in essential carbon dioxide but also let vital water vapor out through transpiration.

Thrift. Girl Scout Law celebrates thrift and so does Horticulture. When a plant’s growth proceeds at an even pace and meets expectations for form and color, it displays this ideal condition. It implies intentional good care, as we expect from the Scouts and their cookies.

Transpiration. Water vapor evaporates from plants as it does from people in this process and, like human sweat, cools and moderates internal dynamics. Plants transpire primarily through opening and closing the stomata that cover leaf surfaces.

Ventilate. An essential process for plant growth in enclosures that allows fresh air to be exchanged with that inside the chamber. Without it, carbon dioxide and ethylene levels rise out of tolerance, oxygen is depleted and the whole system suffocates.

These 9 words are just the start of my list. Plants also defoliate, respire, and etiolate. Then there is xylem, phloem, cambium, and vascular. Since I cannot offer you the end result of this project, here’s a start on what to give a passionate propagator like me – and probably you, too:

  • Hormex Home Garden Packs are available at the website in 2 different sets of 3 concentrations. Give one or both to suit every rooting desire.
  • Grow Lights in fixtures with plant racks use just a little electricity to deliver the full spectrum to rooting beds, seed starting, and indoor gardens.
  • Single-bladed Knives useful in propagation are sold as Budding and Grafting knives. The best are larger overall than the average pocket knife with a similar design except for a blunted blade and bark lifter.

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