When planting your flower garden, one of the most important considerations is whether to plant annual or perennial flowers. Identifying these flowers and the differences between them will help you better plan the look of your gardens from year to year.
Annual flowers are flowers that are planted as seeds and live for only one growing season. In that time, they grow, flower and produce more seeds before dying back. Perennial flowers come from seeds and bulbs and live for at least three growing seasons. Occasionally, perennials will not flower during their first year of growth. A biennial is kind of a mix between the annual and perennial, in that a biennial will grow its first year but bloom during its second year of growth. It will then set seeds and die.
Annual Flower Identification
An easy way to identify a annual flower is to look at how it blooms. Most annual flowers bloom continuously from spring through fall. Some common and popular annual flowers are marigolds, cosmos and sunflowers. You will need to plant annual flowers fresh each year.
Perennial Flower Identification
The blooming pattern is the telling identifier for perennial flowers. Most perennials will bloom for a short period once a year (one to three weeks) before dying back. Some common perennial flowers are bleeding hearts, clematis, crocus, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. The nice thing about perennial flowers is that they are a fairly permanent flower once planted. Occasionally, they may need to be replaced after several years of growth, but for the most part, when you plant perennials, they are there to stay.
Biennial Flower Identification
Biennials can be a bit trickier to identify, but if you watch their growing pattern, you can identify them. Biennials will usually grow their first year and set their foliage. Their tops will die off, but the plant will continue to live over the winter. The biennial flower will then bloom in its second year of growth. Some common biennials are black-eyed Susan, Johnny jump-up, pansy and foxglove.
When you are shopping for plants and seeds, the best resource is the seed packet or the packaging of the flower. It will tell you the best growing conditions for your flower and whether it is an annual, perennial or biennial. You can also familiarize yourself with common annuals, perennials and biennials by using a website such as the National Gardening Association's at garden.org.