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Glossary Of Terms


A list of terms commonly used in the growing and gardening industries, with basic definitions.

Familiarizing yourself with horticultural terms can help you better understand the different characteristics and needs of plants and methods for success in growing them. Whether out in the field like raised beds or indoor farming, knowing what these terms mean can also help you choose the best crops, varieties and techniques for your setting.

  • Genetically modified organism (GMO): refers to plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Vice versa for Non-GMO.
  • Hybrid: A hybrid is the offspring of a cross between two or more genetically distinct parent plant lines, usually of the same species. Hybrid varieties are selected for traits such as improved flavour, disease resistance, and climate adaptability.
  • (F1) Hybrid: (F1) refers to first filial or first-generation offspring of two genetically stable parent strains. Hybrid varieties of vegetables and flowers are typically (F1) hybrids. These seed varieties are created by plant breeders to select for and enhance certain traits — field toughness or adaptability; disease and / or pest resistances; tolerances to certain conditions, resistance to bolting, or field-holding capacity; easy-to-harvest habit; early, mid, or late maturity dates; fruit size, colour, shape, aroma, flavour, texture profile — and an infinite number of other characteristics that could be desirable to growers.
  • Open-pollinated (OP): A non-hybrid variety; one that can reproduce itself in kind, demonstrating relatively stable but non-uniform traits from one generation to the next. These plants are genetically diverse and their flowers are usually pollinated by biotic (living) pollination vectors (organisms) such as birds, bees, moths, butterflies, flies, beetles, ants, and others (those pollinated by insects are termed entomophilous). In some cases (ie, grasses and grains) they are pollinated by abiotic vectors such as water or the wind (those pollinated by the wind are termed anemophilous).
  • Tolerant / Tolerance: Implies that a variety will perform relatively well when exposed to a particular environmental stressor such as cold weather, hot weather, or drought.
  • Treated: Seeds that have a coating of fungicide intended to protect them from rotting in the soil before germination. All treated products have a “T” included with the part numbers. Note: The seeds themselves should not be used for food, feed, or oil purposes.
  • Untreated: Seeds that have no chemical treatments. All seeds offered by Johnny’s are untreated unless otherwise noted.
  • Variety: A genetically similar population of plants, distinct in one or more traits from other populations. Varieties do occur naturally and are found in nature.