Plants, including flowers, are often categorized by the length of their life cycle. This categorization is especially helpful when planning a garden space. Knowing what type of plant you are dealing with allows you to plan a garden that is rich in color and variety, and make it enjoyable for years to come. Planting a mixture of annuals, biennials and perennials ensures growth and visual interest throughout the growing season.
Annuals bloom for one season and then die off. An annual garden has its drawbacks financially, as many of the plants need to be replaced every year. Some annuals drop seeds when the flowers die off. If these seeds remain viable throughout the winter, then they will regrow on their own in the spring, saving you time and money. Most annuals are intolerant of cold temperatures, so plant them in the garden after the threat of frost has passed.
Popular garden annuals include marigolds, black-eyed Susans, bachelor's button, cosmos, fuchsias, verbenas, hollyhocks, geraniums, pansies and petunias.
Plan carefully when adding biennials to the garden. These lovely plants require two growing seasons to complete their life cycle. Plants with attractive foliage add color and life to the garden in their first year. However, they simply will not add blooms until the following year. Most biennial plants die off after their second growing season. Although biennials may be a complicated variety of plant in which to plan a garden, some extraordinary plants fall into this category.
The biennial category includes plants such as foxgloves, English wallflowers, canterbury bells, sweet Williams, forget-me-nots, cotton thistles, money plants and blueweeds.
Perennial plants survive in the same spot for years, becoming dormant in the winter months and replenishing themselves in the spring. Flowers grown from bulbs may be categorized as both a perennial and a flowering bulb. Perennials will not need replacing nearly as often as annuals, but many perennials do not bloom as long as the average annual. Plant a variety of flowers in a perennial bed to assure color throughout the growing season.
Perennial plants include butterfly weeds, columbines, coral bells, daylilies, phloxes, poppies, peonies, cone flowers, wormwoods and shasta daisies.