Understanding The Difference Between Annual And Perennial Plants




The best place to start with gardening would be to understand the basic technical terms. Without understanding of the terms it can be a little overwhelming. It can be especially confusing for those of us who are new to gardening, and spending an afternoon at the garden supply store can be a lot less enjoyable when you’re trying to decipher the meanings on the plant labels. Commonly used terms when it comes to defining plants are “annuals” or “perennials.” This is the best starting place for your understanding. These terms are used as a means of identifying and separating certain types of plants.

Photo by RJS (Flickr.com)

Simply put annual plants live for one growing season and then die, while perennials regrow every spring. What makes them different from one another is the life cycle of the plants and how long they produce blooms all controlled by genetics. This applies to both flowering plant and eatable plants. With this knowledge gardeners are able to better plan their gardens as well as provide them with the proper care. Both annuals and perennials bring a splash of color to your garden. Annuals and perennials both offer beautiful blooms in a vast array of colors, shapes sizes and scents.

Photo by Sally (Flickr.com)

Perennials and Annuals both have positive traits and negative traits. The best thought out gardens will use the positive traits of each in combination with each other. Your garden is what you want it to be. Think about the space you have to use, the colors you want to see, the fruits or vestibules you what to have and plan your garden. If you can picture it in your mind then you can plan it out and make it happen. As always good gardening!

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of each are listed on the links below.

Perennial Flowers

perennials (2)
Photo by: ukgardenphoto (Flickr.com)

• Requires less maintenance because they only need to be planted once.
• They typically bloom in the spring, summer, or even as late as the fall but rarely bloom for an entire season
• Perennial plants are the only plants that are listed with a growing zone. To see which growing zone you are in, check out the USDA Growing Zone Map.
• They do not rush to produce many seeds (and thus flowers) since they will last year to year. They spend more effort on getting established in their environment.
• If you do not what to replant your garden every year then perennials are right for you.
• With perennials be sure and choose your colors and textures well since you will not be changing it next year.

Perennials 3
Photo by: Patrick Standish (Flickr.com)

•  Beautiful blooms in a vast array of color, shapes, sizes and scents
• Herbaceous perennials will die down to the ground in freezing weather and reappear in the spring. (examples: onions and garlic)
• Woody perennials will stop growing during the winter and begin active growth again in the spring
• Evergreen perennials remain virtually unchanged during the winter.
• Young perennials will usually need lots of moisture to help establish a healthy root system.
• Only requires feeding once a year in early spring or late winter.
• May require mulching to help retain soil moisture, soil temperature and weed control.

perennial border
Photo by: Pat M2007 (Flickr.com)

• They tend to overwhelm your garden by the third or fourth season on growth if you do not thin them out.
• Fruit trees, berry bushes and grape vines are also perennials
• Examples of perennial flowers include the hyacinth, daffodils, tall bearded iris, and day lilies
• Tender perennials, such as gladiolus and dahlias, cannot withstand winter conditions and frost
• Certain types of woody perennials may also be flowering perennials, for example, azaleas, rhododendron, and hibiscus are flowering woody perennials
• Woody perennials are typically trees or shrubs.

Annual Flowers

annual flowers
Photo by: Maxmaria (Flickr.com)

• Annual flowers need to be replanted each year. Although some annuals may drop seeds and regrow next spring in the same location.
• They produce more flowers and bloom for longer periods of time than perennials do.
• They are a plant that will die at the end of about a year and subsequent new plants grown from seeds.
• Annuals are in a rush to grow fast to get the most light and nutrients so they can bloom and start seed products since they will die at the end of the season.
• They are the best ever-blooming plants.
• They try to produce as much offspring (seeds) as possible in a single growing season, thus increasing the odds that at least a few of their many seeds will germinate and pass on their genes to future generations.

Photo by: Phil Pickin LRPS (Flickr.com)

• To produce lots of seeds requires lots and lots of flowers.
• Since annuals only live for a single growing season, there is no growing zone assigned to them. They can be grown in all zones from the last frost to the first frost.
• With annuals you can look forward to a new look in your garden every year.
• Annuals offer beautiful blooms in a vast array of colors, shapes, sizes and scents.
• Require moist, but no soggy soils after planning or sowing.
• Requires feeding with a water-soluble fertilizer.
• In areas with cold winters, feed the annuals after blooming begins.

Photo by: Forest Wonder (Flickr.com)

• In warm climates, feed the annuals after blooming begins and again late in the summer, because warmer climates have a longer growing period.
• Often requires deadheading to encourage more blooms to grow. Never remove more than one-third of the plant.
• Most vegetables are annuals.
• Annuals have the huge benefit of change in your garden.
• With vegetables, you can often get more than one crop out of a single space of earth, either by spacing out your crops or by planting both a spring and fall crop.
• You will be required to repurchase annuals every year, an expense each spring.
• Annuals generally need more fertilizer due to their rush to flower and seed.
• Slow-release fertilizers work best with annuals.
• Marigolds, petunias, and zinnias are examples of tender annuals.
• Some of the types of flowers that are considered hardy annuals include the pansy, cornflower, and larkspur.

Our knowledge is the best defense in the garden.  Keep growing in and sharing the knowledge.




-My Yard Garden

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