Precise Terms for Planting

To ensure we do not lead others astray unwittingly, we should be specific in our writing.

We should describe plants by their correct botanical names, refer to plant parts with accurate botanical terms and explain precisely how to place the plants in the environment in which they will grow.

While much instruction is written on the use of botanical names and botanical terms, very little information is available on how to describe the various methods of placing plants in the environment in which they will grow.

To fill in this gap of knowledge, I am offering to all…

The May Dreams Gardens Guide to Proper Terms for Describing the Placing of Plants in the Soil or Other Media In Which They Are Expected to Grow Using Only Words That Start With The Letter “P” with an Excessively Long Title Patterned After the Titles of Books Written in the Early Twentieth Century.

In alphabetical order, for ease of reference:

Placing: We place plants in the garden when we are giving them a trial run in a particular garden bed, often keeping them in their nursery containers until we decide if that is where we will ultimately put them. In addition, we place containers, planted with various plants, in the garden to fill in gaps or provide focal points.

Planting: We plant our plants when we are confident that we are putting them where they truly belong, perhaps because we have a garden design or landscape plan to follow.

Plopping: We plop plants in when we are placing the plants in a garden based on what we see in the garden at that very moment, hoping the plopped in plants will not grow taller than the plants behind them and won't crowd out those around them.

Plunking: We plunk plants in when we are putting them in a spot temporarily, perhaps in an official holding bed that we've created just so we can feel less guilt in acquiring plants we suddenly love but have no idea where we will plant them in our garden.

Putting: We put in a vegetable garden. Later, when we harvest the produce we will put up food from the garden for the winter. Yes, we put in a garden and put up food.

There are also precise terms that can be used to describe the removal of plants from the garden. These are particularly applicable to weeds and tiny seedlings. Again, in  alphabetical order,

Picking: We pick out little seedlings, generally by pinching them between our thumb and index finger and lifting them gently out of the soil.

Plucking: We pluck out weeds when we are able to remove them with one hand.

Prying: We pry out weeds when they are so deeply rooted that we must use a crowbar to remove the roots.

Pulling: We pull out weeds when we must use two hands to grasp the weed and pull them out with all our strength.

Note that while all the terms for removing plants from the garden are used in combination with the word “out”, it is not necessary to use the word “in” when using the terms for placing plants in the garden environment in which they will grow, unless you are “putting” them.

I hope this guide will be helpful to all in writing or speaking about gardening or for just describing your day in the garden.

And may all your days in the garden be full of placing, planting, plopping, plunking, and putting and may you have very little need for picking out, plucking out, and pulling out and absolutely no need for prying out.

This post sponsored by the garden fairies, especially Sweetpea Morningdew, who goes by the nickname “P”.


  1. Oh the things we gardeners do for plants! Thank you "P" for posting all the correct terminology with definitions. Very helpful and a good chuckle for the mid-week.

  2. I am now positively informed.

  3. Dear P, In the spirit of the post~I have placed, plopped, plunked, picked, and even pulled, but never, ever have I had to resort to prying Practically Perfect Pink Phlox from the garden. xog PS I have had to pick-axe and pry out a few particularly pernicious plants.

  4. Thanks for the powerful post about planting plants, in particular plopping which is my personal problem.

  5. Good tips for everyone Miss May Dreams. So, are you enjoying May so far?~~Dee

  6. So Pleased that you've cleared all that up. Sadly, I seem to be quite limited as I primarily plunk and pry in my garden. Perhaps I should try planting instead! Happy May.

  7. Wait, you forgot one! "Plunge" as in: I plunge pots of plants into the ground for the winter, then pull them out in spring to go into containers.

  8. Now THIS is information I can use.

  9. Thank you. I thought I'd been plopping, when actually I've been plunking!

  10. Interesting that I didn't see Planning...not one of my favorites "P"...I tend to go with the place or plop method...


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