Our ‘A’ to ‘Z’ of Gardening Terms

Terms that begin with “B”

bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacterium used as a biological control agent for many insect pests.
bacteriumA single-celled microscopic organism having a cell wall but no chlorophyll. They reproduce by cell division.
balled and burlapped (B&B)A plant dug with soil. The root ball is enclosed with burlap or a synthetic material.
bandTo apply a pesticide or fertilizer in a strip over or along each crop row.
bare-root (BR)A plant with little or no soil around its roots, a common method of selling deciduous plants and small evergreens.
barkAll the tissues, collectively, formed outside the vascular cambium of a woody stem or root.
basal(1) At or near the base of a branch or trunk. (2) At or near a plant’s crown.
basal breakNew growth that develops at the base of a branch or near a plant’s crown.
beneficial insectAn insect that helps gardening efforts. May pollinate flowers, eat harmful insects or parasitize them, or break down plant material in the soil, thereby releasing nutrients. Some insects are both harmful and beneficial. For example, butterflies can be pollinators in their adult form, but destructive in their larval (caterpillar) form.
berryThe fleshy fruit of cane fruits, bush fruits, and strawberries.
biennialA plant that germinates and produces foliage and roots during its first growing season, then produces flowers and seeds and usually dies during its second growing season.
biennial bearingProducing fruit in alternate years.
biosolidsA by-product of wastewater treatment sometimes used as a fertilizer.
bladeThe flattened part of a leaf.
blanchTo exclude light from plants or parts of plants to render them white or tender. Often done to cauliflower, endive, celery, and leeks.
blightRapid, extensive discoloration, wilting, and death of plant tissue.
blotchA blot or spot (usually superficial and irregular in shape) on leaves, shoots, or fruit.
boleSee trunk.
boltingProducing seeds or flowering prematurely, usually due to heat. For example, cool-weather crops such as lettuce bolt during the summer. Leaf crops are discouraged from bolting by removal of flower heads. See deadhead.
bonsaiOne of the fine arts of gardening; growing carefully trained, dwarfed plants in containers selected to harmonize with the plants. Branches are pruned and roots trimmed to create the desired effect.
botanical insecticideAn insecticide, such as rotenone or pyrethrum, derived from a plant. Most botanicals biodegrade quickly. Most, but not all, have low toxicity to mammals.
botrytisA fungal disease promoted by cool, moist weather. Also known as gray mold or fruit rot.
bractA modified leaf, usually small, but sometimes large and brightly colored, growing at the base of a flower or on its stalk. Clearly seen on dogwoods and poinsettias.
brambleA spiny cane bush with berry fruits (e.g., raspberries and blackberries).
branchA subsidiary stem arising from a plant’s main stem or from another branch.
break(1) Any new growth coming from a bud. (2) See bud break.
broadcast(1) To sow seed by scattering it over the soil surface. (2) To apply a pesticide or fertilizer uniformly to an entire, specific area by scattering or spraying it.
broadleaf evergreenA non-needled evergreen.
BTU (British Thermal Unit)Amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water 1°F.
budA small protuberance on a stem or branch, sometimes enclosed in protective scales, containing an undeveloped shoot, leaf, or flower.
bud breakThe resumption of growth by a resting bud.
bud headA swollen or enlarged area where a bud was grafted to a stock.
bud scaleA modified leaf that forms a protective covering for a bud.
bud sportSee mutation.
bud unionThe suture line where a bud or scion was grafted to a stock. Sometimes called the graft union.
buddingThe grafting of a bud onto stock of a different plant. The bud is the scion.
budstickA shoot or twig used as a source of buds for budding.
bulbAn underground storage organ consisting of a thin, flattened stem surrounded by layers of fleshy, dried leaf bases. Roots are attached to the bottom. See corm, tuber, rhizome.
bulbilA small bulb-like organ that sometimes forms in place of flowers.
bulblet(1) An underground bulbil. (2) A tiny bulb produced at the base of a mother bulb.
buttress rootAn enlarged, aboveground root giving support to a tree trunk.