Annuals and Perennials

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Annuals and Perennials

Flowers are often the cornerstone of attention in your garden. Before choosing and planting flowers, it is wise to have a basic understanding of what you can expect from the two major types of flowers that you can buy and plant. The two types are Annuals and Perennials. There is a third type as well, biennial, these are rarer plants, and for our purposes here we will focus on the much more common annuals and perennials. Understanding the difference between annuals and perennials will ultimately help you better understand their behaviors throughout the different seasons.


Annuals are plants that live for usually just one season. The life cycle is short and involves sprouting, flowering, seeding, and then death. Annuals are interesting in that they tend to bloom all season long and tend to live their short life in the most bright and flashy way they can. Most of the flowering plants sold during the winter months end up being annuals. They make a great companion plant for perennials due to their extending flowering phases and can add color where perennials might otherwise fall short. So although annuals must be replaced each year, they just can’t be beaten in length and style of the show.


The variety of annuals is tremendous, so you’ll do best in picking out the right ones for you based on the region you live in. Some of the more general and popular annuals are mums, marigolds, and zinnias. When looking for annuals at the nursery, look for healthy leaves and fewer number of buds. Most people tend to buy the beautiful bunches of near mature height flowers. Be sure to check plant tags for spacing and care requirements. You’ll want to plant annuals at about the same depth as their pots with a quarter inch of soil extra in a ring with the main stem uncovered in the center. Mulch will help make your annuals last a little bit longer with proper watering as well.


Perennials have a much longer lifespan in seasons. Generally, perennials are plants via seed or bulb and can last three or more seasons depending on the species. Bulbs are often planted in the fall with an eye toward spring for flowering. The contrast with annuals is that perennials have a much shorter bloom and showy periods. One common strategy is to stagger the planting of perennials to help take full advantage of the shorter blooming periods. Planting perennials at different times is the backbone of your landscape. The period of dormancy in perennials will typically leave the leafy foliage of the plant without the bright color of the flower. In areas like Florida, perennials are year-round.


One of the best ways to find out what perennials will do well in your region is to take a look at what your neighbors are planting. There are many popular perennials including Roses, Russian Sage, Azure Monkshood, and daylilies. There are even some plants that can be considered both annual and perennial like mums. For general tips on planting and maintenance follow much of the same routine as with annuals. Set the plants at the right depth according to their original pots, and cover with just a little soil leaving space around the stem.


Planting the right combination of these two types of flowers is the key to a well established and beautiful garden and lawn.  Knowing the difference between annuals and perennials will give you much more control and understanding of your plants growing cycles. With this knowledge, you can properly plan out your garden year round and enjoy the best of what the floral and lawn world has to offer.


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