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Annual Vs. Perennial Plants

Image by, courtesy of sue

Annuals are plants that have just one growing cycle. They are planted in the spring and die in the fall after the first frost. Perennials, on the other hand, grow and multiply in the garden for three-plus years. For most gardeners, annuals are their choice for their container plantings. However, some gardeners plant perennials in their containers, and then transplant them into their gardens in mid to late summer so that they will return the following year. There are pros and cons to annuals and perennials. The avid gardener understands their differences, and strives to create a garden that is in continual bloom by the using both annuals and perennials.

Annuals' Season-Long Color

Annuals are known for their colorful show of blossoms throughout the growing season. From early spring to late fall, annuals such as petunias, marigolds, zinnias and impatiens fill flower beds and containers with lovely blossoms. Colors range from deep-purple petunias, bright yellow/orange marigolds, pink impatiens and the reds, yellows and pinks of the zinnia.

Showy Perennials

The bloom time of perennials is much shorter than that of annuals. Not only is it shorter but when plants bloom varies. With a little planning your perennial garden can have blossoms throughout the growing season by checking out the bloom time of individual plantings. Colors vary from the oranges, yellows and deep reds of daylilies to the pink and white blooms of peonies.


Both annual and perennial vines can be part of your garden. Perennial vines should be chosen to grow along a stone wall, fence or trellis. There is a definite advantage to planting perennial vines (bittersweet, honeysuckle, clematis) in this instance as vines take time to grow and cover a wall, fence or trellis–therefore the perennial vines take preference over annual vines. If you want a show of color and a vine to cascade over a deck railing or from a container planting, then an annual vine would be the vine of choice (morning glory, black-eyed Susan).


Perennials may be more costly upfront, but in the long term it is less expensive to plant perennials because they will come back the following year. And as perennials multiply and grow they can be divided and transplanted to other flower beds within your garden. Some perennials self-seed and others spread by producing additional rhizomes (daylily). There are also perennial ground covers, such as lily of the valley and English ivy. One plant will eventually produce many, which is a cost savings.

Create Splendor with Both

The answer to annuals versus perennials is to use both within your garden. You can enjoy the colorful blossoms of the annual by mixing them within your perennial garden, and you can also enjoy the unique as well as the traditional perennials. It does not have to be one or the other–instead choose what you like from both groups of plants.

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