The Difference Between Annuals & Perennials

annual and perennial flowers
Flowers can add tremendous appeal to any landscape. Even if you have a relatively ‘boring’ property, you can quickly spruce it up through the addition of just a few beautiful flowers. But which flowers should you add? A trip to the local nursery is likely to provide more questions than answers. You will see many names that you don’t recognize, and gardening terms that you don’t understand. In this case, a little education can go a long way.

One of the most common points of confusion for amateur gardeners is trying to determine the difference between annuals and perennials. Let’s cut through the confusion to provide you some clarity on this topic.

The Basic Difference

Most of what you need to know on this topic can be found in the name of the two types of plants. Annuals, as you might guess, are plants which will only last for a single growing season. They are not going to come back year after year, so you will need to replant them if you want the same look in your garden next year. There are both warm- and cool-season varieties of these kinds of plants, so you will need to pick the right one based on when you are going to be planting. If there is still frost on the ground each morning, you will need to wait to plant warm-season versions until the frost is a thing of the past.

Perennials, on the other hand, live for more than a single growing season. When cared for property, some perennials can even become ongoing members of your landscape which never need to be replanted. The behavior of your perennials during the non-growing season part of the year will depend on the specific plant. Some have evergreen characteristics, while others nearly disappear in the cold weather before popping up again when the temperatures rise.

So Which to Pick?

Most gardens will include a blend of annuals and perennials. You can make the choice as to what goes where in a number of ways. For instance, you might choose to place perennials in the ground around your garden, while you use your planter boxes to house annuals. Or, you could opt for perennials in the harder-to-reach spots on your property, just so you don’t have to keep going back year after year.

No matter which type of plants you choose to add to your garden, the key is to pay attention to the care instructions that come with the plant. If you ignore the instructions provided with your plants, it won’t matter whether they are annuals or perennials – they aren’t going to last. Stick with the advice you have been given, make sure they get the right amount of water and food, and cut them back as necessary.

Both annuals and perennials can make for beautiful additions to any garden. During your next visit to the nursery, browse the options on hand and determine which will be best for your plans.