Last year I ran a series on explaining various different gardening terms. This series proved very popular and so it is making a return in 2011. To catch up on the words you may have missed in 2010, check out my two recap articles, Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Words for February – Aquatic, canopy, evergreen & frost hardy/tolerant.
The word aquatic can have many meanings depending on the context that you are speaking of it in. When it comes to gardening, the term aquatic is applied to plants that either grow completely underwater or partially under water. Water Lily’s are an example of an aquatic plant, with the roots and stems generally growing under water and then the leaves and flowers appearing on the surface of the water. Under water grasses would also be called aquatic plants.
In a forest there are many different layers of life and the word canopy refers to the upper most part, where the tops of the trees are. They form a ‘canopy’ over the forest, often either stopping or filtering the light from getting down below. If you want plant to grow below the canopy then you have to make sure you choose plants that can handle the shade. Equally, if you remove plants that are forming a canopy, make sure you know any plants growing below can handle more sunshine without the protection of the canopy plants.
The term evergreen basically applies to any plant that will always have some foliage. Evergreen plants are plants that do not go into hibernation for any period of time and instead continue to grow and produce leaves all year round.
Frost Hardy/ Frost Tolerant
The term frost hardy is actually very much dependent on the climate that plants are growing in, but in general a plant that is said to be ‘frost hardy’ is a plant that will not die if it has to go through some frost conditions. The key points to whether a plant is frost hardy or not is a) Can the leaves survive frost temperatures and conditions without experiencing damage (evergreen shrubs) and b) can the stems and/or buds of the plant survive frost temperatures and conditions (deciduous shrubs). However one plant that is said to be frost hardy in a temperate zone may not be as frost hardy in a cold weather zone because the depth of the frost will differ.