F.10.01: What are some good references about botany?
F.00: Introduction to Botany for Home Gardeners
The most frequently asked questions in gardening are the
"HOWs, WHENs, and WHYs" about planting, pruning,
pinching back and all the other things gardeners do directly
with their plants. The answers to these kinds of questions come
mostly from that part of botany that deals with plant anatomy,
plant physiology and characteristic growth habits. This section
is about those parts of botany as it applies to the care of
garden plants. Appendix E contains a
glossary of the Botanical terms.
Home gardeners without a technical background might find
Botany for Gardeners; An Introduction and Guide by Brian
Capon, Timber Press, a helpful companion text for this section.
It is well written and beautifully illustrated. It is available
in as a 220-page paperback for about $20.
Home gardeners with a technical background might find
Introductory Plant Biology by Kingsley Stern, Wm. C.
Brown Publishers, more helpful as a companion text. It is more
complete. Introductory Plant Biology is one of the better
text books for Botany students at the University level. It is
also well written, beautifully illustrated, and a very solid
reference. It is available as a 570-page paperback at about $55.
This sub-section is about roots, root structure and root
systems; how they are formed, grow and adapt to the
environment. This sub-section is also about mycorrhizae and
the ways these fungus organisms work in concert with the
roots. This sub-section is of particular relevance regarding
plant feeding, transplanting, root pruning and the use of
This sub-section is about stems and the ways they are formed,
grow and adapt. It is also about their characteristic
structure and function, the ways they branch and produce the
different kinds of buds and wood production. This sub-section
is of particular relevance regarding pruning, dead-heading,
and pinching back.
This sub-section is about leaves and leaf variations, how they
develop, grow and adapt; the internal and external structure
of leaves; abscission; and the processes of plant respiration,
transpiration, and photosynthesis. This sub-section deals with
many of the basic issues in plant physiology. It is of
particular relevance to the home gardener in that it deals
with matching the plant with the conditions of the garden.
This sub-section is about flowers, their development and
structure; the various factors that promote the production of
more flowers or larger flowers; Pollen and the fertilization
process; and the way flowers generate seeds and fruit. This
sub-section is of particular relevance to the home gardener in
that it is about garden production.
There are a number of plants that are called, 'bulbs'. True
bulbs are actually large buds with a small stem at the lower
end surrounded by numerous fleshy leaves called 'scales'. An
onion is an example of a true bulb. The roots come out of a
solid, bottom basal plate. The bulb-like plants include corms
and cormels, fleshy rhizomes, tubers and tuberous roots.
Corms are bulb shaped, underground stem bases with a solid,
bottom basal plate. Corms look like bulbs superficially but
differ in that they are composed almost entirely of solid,
Gladiolus 'bulbs' are really corms. Cormels are undeveloped
Rhizomoes are horizontal stems that grow underground just
below the soil surface. They look like roots but they are
characterized by having scale-like leaves and axillary buds at
the growth nodes. Bearded iris 'bulbs' are really rhizomes.
Tubers are outgrowths from internodes on underground stems.
Like corms they are solid, stem tissue but without a bottom,
basal plate. They are characterized by having growth buds of
'eyes'. A white potato is an example of a tuber.
Tuberous roots are actually roots that are specialized to
store nutrients. They grow out of the stem base and they are
characterized by having no growth buds or 'eyes'. Dahlia
'bulbs' are really tuberous roots.
True bulbs and bulb-like plants are water-saving and
nutrient-saving organs to carry the plant to their flowering
season. This sub-section is about the formation, structure and
ways to garden with these bulbs and bulb like plants.
This sub-section is about the asexual reproduction of plants
by the various propagating techniques and the uses of
propagation in the home garden. Plant Propagation by
Philip McMillan Browse, A Fireside Book by Simon &
Schuster, would be a good companion text. This sub-section
Planting seeds, roots, bulbs and bulb-like plants.
The various ways to propagate by layering, stem cutting or
The various ways to graft including budding.
The use of the various propagating amenities.
The ways to use propagation in the home garden.
The ability to be propagate gives the home gardener a number of
Genetics is that branch of biology that studies inherited
characteristics. A major study and with the advent of DNA
technology and genetic engineering a very complicated one as
well. Genetics is mostly a study for plant breeders and
hybridizers looking for special characteristics. There are,
however, genetic issues that are important to the home
This sub-section deals with the ways characteristics are
passed on to the descendants, the ways chromosomes are sorted
out in mitosis and meiosis, the issues of dominant and
recessive characteristics, hybrid nomenclature, and plant