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S S S S

Scarify
  1. To scratch out dead grass and moss from a lawn using a spring-tined rake or motorised scarifier. Scarifying promotes better water and nutrient penetration into the soil.
  2. Nick or break seed coat slightly with a small file or scissors in order to facilitate the entrance of water into the seed. This will help to start the germination process.
SCION
A short length of stem, taken from one plant which is then grafted onto the rootstock of another plant.
Seed drill
A narrow groove for sowing seeds into, made in a prepared seedbed with the corner of a hoe, rake or trowel, or pressed in with a straight cane.
Seedbed
An area for raising seeds that has been weeded, forked over, firmed and levelled, with all stones and lumps of soil removed.
Seedling
A young plant grown from seed, a tiny plant that has recently germinated and expanded its seed leaves. When being sold, plants are despatched or sold in a tray when large enough for you to prick out individually. Increasingly, they are being superceded by plug plants.
SELF-COLOR
A flower with single colored petals.
SELF-SEED
The process of a plant releasing its own seed, which will readily germinate nearby and produce new plants.
SEPAL
One of the divisions of the calyx.
SERRATE
Saw-edged leaf design.
SESSILE
A stalkless leaf or flower which is borne directly on the stem.
SHEET COMPOSTING
A method of spreading undecomposed organic materials over the soil’s surface, then working them into the soil to decompose, rather than piling them and spreading the resulting compost. See Green Manure.
SHORT DAY PLANT
A plant which requires light for a shorter period than it would normally receive from daylight in order to induce flowering; e.g Chrysanthemum and Poinsettia.
SHRUB
A woody plant with a framework of branches and little or no central stem.
SIDE-DRESSING
The application of fertilizer or organic matter around a plant, the material being left on the soil surface rather than being dug in. Also known as top-dressing.
Sideshoot
An extra shoot that grows from the base of a leaf stalk on the main stem. It is also known as a lateral.
SILICA GEL
A desiccant used to dry flowers for craft use.
Simple layering
Bending a stem so that it touches the ground, sometimes after wounding or notching it to encourage rooting at that point. Also see layering, serpentine layering, tip layering and air layering.
SINGLE FLOWER
A flower with a normal amount of petals present, arranged in a single row. Daisies are a good example of this type.
SLIP
A cutting.
SLOW-RELEASE FERTILIZERS
A fertilizer formulated to be inactive until released by water or temperature and to activate slowly over a period of time (e.g., 3-month or 6-month formulations).
Softwood cutting
A cutting that is prepared from the soft ends of new shoots and usually taken before mid-summer. Many shrubs, climbers, perennials and greenhouse plants are suitable to increase using this simple method. It is also sometimes known as a tip cutting. See also basal cutting, hardwood_cuttings, root cutting and semi-ripe cutting.
SOIL AMENDMENT
Ingredients such as sand, peat moss, or compost that are added to soil to improve its texture.
SOIL LESS MIX
Growing medium often containing materials such as perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss, but no natural soil. Holds water and nutrients very well.
SOIL pH
The amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil. See pH.
SOIL POLYMERS
Super absorbent polymers recently developed that can increase water retention of soils. They can absorb hundreds of time their weight in water and are primarily used in container bound plants.
SOIL TESTING
Measuring the nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium, trace elements, minerals, salts, and pH levels of the soil. You can test your own soil with soil testing kits from local garden centres.
SPADIX
A fleshy flower spike in which tiny florets are embedded.
SPATHE
A large bract, sometimes highly coloured, surrounding or enclosing a spadix. The spathe flower is characteristic of the aroids, such as Anthurium and Spathiphyllum.
SPECIES
Used when naming plants. Designates a specific species of the &lsqo;Genus’ and is best described as the plant worlds equivalent to our Christian names (or first names). Will follow the Genus name and is usually in Latin. Note: Once a plants full name is used, i.e. Hedera helix, future listings will abbreviate the Genus name and follow it with the species name. An example would be, H. helix, as the next plant in a listing. See What Is A Plant?
Specimen plant
Any well-grown plant placed on its own in a prominent position where it can develop fully and be admired as a solo performer.
Spiking
Cutting holes or slits in the lawn with a wheeled spiker, hollow-tined fork or an ordinary garden fork to improve drainage and allow air, water and fertiliser to reach the roots more easily.
SPHAGNUM MOSS
A bog moss which is collected and composted. Most peat moss is composed primarily of sphagnum moss. This moss is also packaged and sold in a fresh state, and used for lining hanging baskets and air layering. See Air Layering.
SPORE
The body of a microscopic size reproductive cell of non-flowering plants, such as ferns, fungi (mushrooms) and mosses; these plants do not produce seeds. This corresponds to seed in the higher order plants.
SPORT
A plant which shows a marked and inheritable change from its parent; a natural ‘mutation’.
Spreader
Spins fertiliser or lawn sand from a reservoir, distributing it evenly across a strip of grass.
STAKING
The practice of driving a stake into the ground next to, and as a support for a plant. When attaching the plant to the stake, be sure that it is tied loosely so it doesn’t strangle the stem. When staking a potted plant, the stake should be set into the planter before the plant is added.
STAMEN
The male reproductive parts of a flower.
STANDARD
A plant which does not normally grow as a tree but is trained into a tree-like form, typically a ‘lollipop’ shape.
STERILIZED SOIL
A rather misleading term, as steam or chemically sterilized soil is only partially sterilized. Harmful organisms have been killed but helpful bacteria have been spared.
STIGMA
The part of the female organ of the flower which catches the pollen.
STIPULE
A small outgrowth at the base of the leaf stalk.
STOCK
Rootstock
STOLON
A thin, underground runner. See runner.
STOPPING
See pinching out.
STOVE PLANT
A plant which requires warm greenhouse conditions in winter.
STRAIN
A selection of a variety, cultivar or species which is raised from seed.
STRATIFICATION
Chilling process done to seeds to enhance their germination.
Striking
A technical term, strictly meaning to encourage roots, but generally used for the whole process of taking cuttings. e.g. “To strike a cutting”
Subsoil
This is the layer below the top soil which is usually less fertile and of poorer texture.

The subsoil usually looks pale because of its low fertility. It is sometimes hard and compacted and stops water draining away, creating waterlogged conditions that slow down plant growth or cause root diseases. Subsoil often contains valuable minerals that can be tapped by growing deep-rooting plants such as alfalfa or fenugreek and adding them to the compost heap. They help to break up the subsoil, as does deep digging. Because of its poor quality, never leave subsoil on the surface.

Succession (crop)
Repeated sowings of quick-maturing crops, such as radish, to ensure a continuous supply through the season.
SUCCULENT
Succulents plants have leaves and/or stems which are thick and fleshy. They often have waxy outer layers that allow the plants to retain water well.
Sucker
A shoot or growth originating from the rootstock of a grafted plant(direct from the roots), usually best removed from grafted plants, so it doesn’t draw energy from the main plant
SUN SCORCH
Spots on leaves that are caused by exposure to strong sunlight. Tomatoes may get sun scorched.
Sward
A poetic term for an expanse of turf, often used when describing a closely cut lawn.
SYSTEMIC
A chemical which is absorbed directly into a plants system to either kill feeding insects on the plant, or to kill the plant itself.

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