Basic Botany

Plant Nomenclature

A nursery professional needs to know both common and botanical names of plants. Most customers are more comfortable with the familiar common names. However, some customers who are knowledgeable about plants will use botanical names in conversation. It is important for nursery sales and service personnel to match their vocabulary to that of the customer. Botanical names are important because they help assure that the customer is purchasing the correct plant. For example, mock orange is a common name used to refer to three shrubs with quite different growth habits. In this chapter we provide a brief overview of how plant nomenclature developed, and what some of the Latin names mean. While it is not necessary to memorize all of the names listed, it is necessary to understand the basic construction of a botanical name.

How Plants Grow

It is important for nursery employees to have a good knowledge of how plants grow, and their specific growth requirements. Plants in the nursery or garden center require care and maintenance because healthy, well-cared-for plants entice the customer to take them home. Understanding how plants grow is also essential to helping consumers choose the best plants for a specific location, and to advising them about plant care. This chapter includes identifying the basic parts of a plant, the function of each of those parts, environmental factors affecting plant growth, and plant nutrition.

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