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ACID:

Refers to medium or nutrient solution with a low pH; an acidic solution has a pH below 7.

AERATION:              

Supplying soil and roots with air or oxygen. Geolite is an example of a medium with excellent aeration. In some hydroponic systems, a nutrient solution is aerated by the output of an aquarium pump.

AEROPONICS:

A system in which the roots of a plant are consistently or intermittently misted with fine droplets of nutrient solution.

ALKALINE:  

Refers to medium or nutrient solution with a high pH; any pH over 7 is considered alkali

ALL PURPOSE FERTILIZER:

A balanced blend of N-P-K; all purpose fertilizer is used by most growers

AMENDMENT:

Fortifying soil by adding organic or mineral substances in order to improve texture, nutrient content or biological activity.

ANNUAL:

A plant that normally completes it entire life cycle in one year or less. Tomatoes are examples of annuals plants.

AUXIN:

Classification of plant hormones; auxins are responsible for foliage and root elongation.

BACTERIA:

Very small, one-celled organisms.

BENEFICIAL INSECT:

A good insect that eats bad flower and vegetable munching insects.

BIODEGRADABLE:

Able to decompose or break down through natural bacterial or fungal action, substances made of organic matter are biodegradable.

BLOOM BOOSTER, BLOSSOM BOOSTER:

Fertilizer high in phosphorus (P) that increases flower yield.

BONSAI:

A very short or dwarfed plant.

BORON (B):

The function of this micronutrient is not well understood, but it is suspected that it might aid carbohydrate transport.

BULBS:

Common are tulips and daffodils planted in the fall for spring blooms, or forced indoors for winter blooms.

BURN:

Leaf tips that turn dark from excess fertilizer and salt burn.

CALCIUM (Ca):

Calcium is vital in all parts of plants to promote the translocation of carbohydrates, healthy cell wall structure, strong stems, membrane maintenance and root structure development. Calcium is a macronutrient.

CALYX:

The pod harboring female ovule and two protruding pistils, seed pod.

CARBOHYDRATE:

Neutral compound of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Sugar, starch and cellulose are carbohydrates.

CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2):

A colorless, odorless, tasteless gas in the air necessary for plant life. Occurs naturally in the atmosphere at .03%.

CAUSTIC:

Capable of destroying, killing or eating away by chemical activity.

CELL:

The base structural unit that plants are made of; cells contain a nucleus, that houses its dna.

CELLULOSE:

A complex carbohydrate that stiffens a plant tissue: tough stems contain cellulose.

CHELATE:

Combining nutrients in an atomic ring that is easy for plants to absorb.

CHLORINE (Cl):

This micronutrient is essential for photosynthesis, where it acts as an enzyme activator during the production of oxygen from water.

CHLOROPHYLL:

Green coloring matter of leaves and plants, essential to the production of carbohydrates by photosynthesis.

CHLOROPLAST:

Containing chlorophyll

CHLOROSIS:

The condition of a sick plant with yellowing leaves due to inadequate formation of chlorophyll. Chlorosis is caused by a nutrient deficiency, usually iron or nitrogen; nutrient deficiencies are themselves often caused by a pH that is out of the acceptable range.

CLAY:

Soil made of very fine organic mineral particles, clay is not suitable for

CLONE:

A plant produced through asexual reproduction including, but not limited to, cuttings, layering and tissue culture.

CONDITIONING:

To soak new Rockwool in an acidic solution to lower the pH from 8.0 to 5.5.

COMPACTION:

Soil condition that results from tightly packing soil; compacted soil allows for only marginal aeration and root penetration.

COMPANION PLANTING:

Planting garlic, marigolds, etc., along with other plants to discourage insect infestation.

COMPOST:

A mixture of decayed organic matter.

COPPER (Cu):

This micronutrient is an internal catalyst and acts as an electron carrier; it is also believed to play a role in nitrogen fixation.

CORMS, RHIZOMES, AND TUBERS:

Dormant stems planted in the fall for spring blooms, or forced indoors for winter blooms. Common varieties are dahlias and irises.

COTYLEDON:

Energy storage components of a seed that feed the plant before the emergence of its first true leaves.

CROSS-POLLINATE:

Pollinating two plants having different ancestry.

DAMPING-OFF FUNGUS:

Disease that attacks young seedlings and cuttings, causing stems to rot at the base; overwatering is the main cause of damping-off.

DEPLETE:

Exhaust soil of nutrients, making it infertile

DESICCATE:

Cause to dry up. Insecticidal soap desiccates its victims.

DIOECIOUS:

having distinct male and female organs on different plants within the same species.

DISSOLVED SOLIDS or TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLIDS (TDS):

The amount of dissolved solids, usually fertilizer salts, that are measured in water in parts per million.

DRAINAGE:

Way to empty soil of excess water: with good drainage, water passes through soil evenly.

DRIP AERATION:

A hydroponic method wherein air pressure from a small air pump is used to percolate nutrient solution out through a ring of feeder tubing which encircles the plant.

DRIP SYSTEM (DRIP EMITTER SYSTEM):

A very efficient watering system that employs a main hose with small water emitters. Water is metered out of the emitters, one drop at a time.

EBB-AND-FLOW (OR FLOOD AND DRAIN)

A hydroponic system in which the medium, usually aggregate pebbles, is periodically flooded with nutrient solution and then drained again, feeding and aerating the medium and root system.

EC:

Electrical Conductivity

EQUINOX:

The point at which the sun crosses the equator and day and night are each 12 hours long; the equinox occurs twice a year, in spring and fall.

FEED:

Deliver nutrient to the plant via  roots or foliage.

FEMALE:

Pistillate, ovule, seed-producing.

FERTIGATE:

To fertilize and irrigate at the same time.

FERTILIZER BURN:

Over fertilization: first leaf tips burn (turn brown) then the leaves curl.

FOLIAR FEEDING:

Misting plants with fertilizer solution, which is absorbed by the foliage.

FUNGICIDE:

A product that destroys or inhibits fungus.

FUNGUS:

Any of a major group (Fungi) of saprophytic and parasitic spore-producing organisms usually classified as plants that lack chlorophyll and include molds, rusts, mildews, smuts, mushrooms, and yeasts. Common fungal diseases that attack plants are "damping-off," Botrytis, and powdery mildew.

GERMINATION:

The process of causing the initiation and development of a plant from seed.

GEOLITE:

One of several brand names/varieties of clay aggregate medium (also known as LECA for light expanded clay aggregate). It is a lightweight, porous substrate with excellent aeration. Because it does not really wick water effectively, Geolite and other LECA mediums are favorites in ebb-and-flow and drip hydroponic systems.

HARDEN-OFF:

To gradually acclimatize a plant to a more harsh environment. A seedling must be hardened-off before planting outdoors.

HERMAPHRODITE:

One plant having both male and female organs; the breeding of hermaphrodites is hard to control

HONEY DEW:

A sticky honey like substance secreted into foliage by aphids, scale and mealybugs.

HORMONE:

Chemical substance that controls the growth and development of a plant. Root-inducing hormones help cuttings root.

HUMUS:

Dark, fertile partially decomposed plant or animal matter; humus forms the organic portion of the soil.

HYBRID:

The offspring from two plants of different breeds, variety or genetic make-up.

HYDRATED LIME:

Instantly soluble lime, used to raise or lower pH.

HYDROTON:

One of several brand names/varieties of clay aggregate medium (also known as LECA for light expanded clay aggregate). It is a lightweight, porous substrate with excellent aeration. Because it does not really wick water effectively, Geolite and other LECA mediums are favorites in ebb-and-flow and drip hydroponic systems.

HYGROMETER:

An instrument for measuring relative humidity in the atmosphere.

INERT:

Chemically non reactive; inert growing mediums make it easy to control the chemistry of the nutrient solution.

INTERNODAL:

A portion of a plant stem between nodes.

IRON (Fe):

This micronutrient acts as a catalyst in the photosynthesis/respiration process, and is essential for the formation of sugars and starches. Iron also activates certain other enzymes.

KREBS CYCLE:

A series of chemical reactions used by all aerobic organisms to generate energy through the oxidation of acetyl-CoA derived from carbohydrates, fats and proteins into carbon dioxide and chemical energy.

LACEWING:

Beneficial insects that preys on aphids.

LEAF CURL:

Leaf malformation due to over watering, over fertilization, lack of magnesium, insect or fungus damage or negative tropism.

LEAFLET:

Small immature leaf.

LEAVES:

The external part of a plant attached to branches and stems for the purpose of taking in light from the sun's energy, they do this with chloroplasts in the cells which contain chlorophyll.

LEGGY:

Abnormally tall internode space, with sparse foliage. Legginess of a plant is usually caused by lack of blue light or CO2 too much nitrogen can also cause this.

LIFE CYCLE:

A series of growth stages through which a plant must pass in its natural lifetime; the stages for an annual plant are seed, seedling, vegetative and floral.

LOAM:

Organic soil mixture of crumbly clay, silt and sand.

MACRONUTRIENTS:

The primary nutrients N-P-K or the secondary nutrients magnesium and calcium.

MANGANESE (Mn):

This micronutrient activates one or more enzymes in fatty acid synthesis; it also activates the enzymes responsible for DNA and RNA production. Closely associated with copper and zinc, manganese also participates directly in the photosynthetic creation of oxygen from water.

MEDIUM:

The substrate or soilless material which supports the plant and absorbs and releases the nutrient solution in hydroponic horticulture.

MICRONUTRIENTS:

Also referred to a TRACE ELEMENTS, including S, Fe, Mn, B, Mb, An and Cu.

MOLYBDENUM (Mo):

This micronutrient is essential for nitrogen fixation and nitrate reduction.

MULCH:

A protective covering of organic compost, leaves. Etc.; indoors, mulch keeps soil too moist and possible fungus could result.

NECROSIS:

The dying of plant tissue, usually the result of serious nutrient deficiency or pest attack.

NITROGEN (N):

Nitrogen is used in various forms to promote rapid vegetative growth, leaf, flower, fruit and seed development, and chlorophyll development; and to increase the protein content in all plants.

NFT (NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE):

A hydroponic method in which nutrient is fed into grow tubes or trays in a thin film where the roots draw it up. This "nutrient film" allows the roots to have constant contact with the nutrient and the air layer above at the same time.

N-P-K:

The N value is the percentage of elemental nitrogen by weight in the fertilizer. The value for P is the fraction by weight of P2O5 in a fertilizer with the same amount of phosphorus that gets all of its phosphorus from P2O5. The value for K is analogous, based on a fertilizer with K2O.

NUTRIENTS:

The elements needed by plants for normal growth and health. The major nutrients (MACRONUTRIENTS) are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), but there are numerous MICRONUTRIENTS (also called TRACE ELEMENTS) which also have integral roles in maintaining plant health. A good quality hydroponic nutrient formula will contain all of the major nutrients and micronutrients needed by the vast majority of plants.

NUTRIENT SOLUTION:

The mixture of water and water-soluble nutrients which is provided to the plants for nourishment in a hydroponic system.

NUTRIENTS, SECONDARY:

The elements other than N, P and K which are considered nearly as important as N, P and K but are not considered micronutrients. Calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulphur (S) are the elements usually referred to by this term.

ORGANIC:

Made of, or derived from or related to living organisms. In agriculture organic means "natural." in chemistry organic means "a molecule or substance that contains carbon."

OVULE:

A plant's egg found within the calyx, it contains all the female genes; when fertilized, an ovule will grow into a seed.

OXYGEN:

Tasteless, colorless element, necessary in soil to sustain plant life as well as animal life.

PARASITE:

Organism that lives on or in; fungus is a parasite

PEAT:

Partially decomposed vegetation (usually moss) with slow decay due to extreme moisture and cold.

PERENNIAL:

A plant, such as a tree or shrub, which completes its lifecycle over several years.

PERLITE:

Sand or volcanic glass which has been expanded by heat; perlite holds water and nutrients on its many irregular surfaces. Mineral soil amendment.

PH:     

A scale from 1 to 14 that measures the acid to alkaline balance of a growing medium (or any other substance). In general, plants grow best in a pH range of 6 to 6.8; 6.3 is considered ideal. If the pH is not within the acceptable range, nutrients may not be absorb by a plant.

PHOSPHORUS (P):

Phosphorus promotes and stimulates early growth and blooming and root growth. It hastens maturity and seed growth, and contributes to the general hardiness of plants. Phosphorus is a macronutrient.

PHOTOPERIOD:

Day length; the relationship between the length of light and dark in a 24 hour period.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS:

The process by which plants use light energy to collect carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to chemical energy in the form of sugar.

POTASSIUM (K):

Potassium promotes disease resistance and good development of carbohydrates, starches and sugars, and it increases fruit production. Potassium is a macronutrient.

PROPAGATE:

Sexual propagation: to produce seed by breeding different male and female flowers. Asexual propagation: to produce plantlets (also known as CLONES) by taking cuttings.

PYRETHRUM:

Natural insecticide made from the blossoms of various chrysanthemums.

RESERVOIR:

The container in a hydroponic system which holds nutrient solution in reserve for use.

ROCKWOOL:

Inert, soilless growing medium consisting of woven, thin strand-like fibers made from molten volcanic rock and limestone, which is heated to over 2900 degrees F, extruded, and formed into slabs, cubes and blocks.

SECONDARY NUTRIENTS:

Calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) are considered to be the secondary nutrients.

SYSTEMIC:

Used in reference to a disease within the plant tissue, not initiated from the external cells. Also refers to materials and compounds which are taken up or absorbed by the plant and designed to fight disease (e.g. systemic fungicide).

VERMICULITE:

Mica which has been processed and expanded by heat. Vermiculite has excellent water-retention qualities and is a good soil amendment and medium for rooting cuttings.

WICK:

Part of a passive hydroponic system using a wick suspended in the nutrient solution. The nutrients pass up the wick and are absorbed by the medium and roots.

ZINC (ZN):

Like copper and manganese, zinc is linked to chlorophyll synthesis.