When faced with a completely empty yard, it can be hard to know where to begin. Gardeners have so many choices when it comes to choosing plants, its best to narrow down the options to a few basics. The lifespan of a plant is an important factor, and figuring out the different kinds of garden plants one wants to utilize can be made easier by deciding on whether one wants annuals, perennials and biennials, or a mixture of all three.
Annuals are plants that only live for one year, a fact that allows for a lot of flexibility in the garden. Gardeners often use annual flowers to make bright, showy flower beds that last through spring and summer before dying. Planting with annuals means the gardener can switch up the plants on a regular basis. Some popular annual plants include cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), a colorful, daisy like plant; foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), a tall growing stalk of bell shaped blooms; and morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor), a flowering vine.
Biennials take two years to complete their life cycle instead of one. Biennials are sometimes referred to as short-lived perennials. Some popular biennial plant species include beet and chard plants (Beta vulgaris)--edible vegetables native to the Mediterranean, North Africa and coastal Europe--and rose campion (Lychnis coronaria)--a velvety ornamental plant that boasts hot pink flowers.
Perennials have the longest lifespan, generally defined as three years or more. Perennials are popular for their hands off approach: many perennials can be left alone to grow and flower year after year. Many plants that grow from bulbs are perennials and can be left in the ground during the winter so that they may grow again in the spring. Common perennials include the brightly flowering tulip (Tulipa spp.), the tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum), and the multi-flowered hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis).