Looking to start a garden and wondering what to plant…..wondering what plants will come back every year and what won’t?
Which plants will give the most blooms or which will save you the most money?
In short…an Annual completes its life cycle in one season, (example: you buy a small zinnia plant at your local garden center in the spring, plant it, by winter that same year it will go to seed and die.)
A perennial on the other hand will almost do the same, it will go to seed but it will not die…it will only die back in the winter only to re-emerge for you come Spring year after year to flower again.
ANNUALS (the ones that Don’t come back)
What annuals offer is Punch, a wow factor, and this is why they are generally upfront and center at the garden centers! They come in so many different amazing colors and shapes and a lot of them if “dead-headed” will bloom all summer…making these plants hard to resist. If you are someone that loves instant gratification with not much commitment and doesn’t mind buying and replanting each year then annuals are a good choice.
Annuals take a little more pampering due to the fact that they are not native, this usually means they require better soil conditions than do a lot of perennials….in my experience, anyway.
Annuals are most commonly bought as small plants to be planted straight in the garden rather than started by seed, because that is generally the whole point of an annual….instant flowering, you don’t want to wait on the bloom.
But you can start an annual by seed and many people do.
There are actually 2 types of annuals, Cool-Hardy annuals, which I have just discovered and in love with (these guys love the cold), and “Warm-season tender annuals, which are the ones most commonly sold at your garden centers, like petunias, and marigolds (these guys love the heat).
The Cool-Season annuals, though can be direct sown in the ground in early fall or spring (I have started my seeds indoors for early spring planting, but that’s a whole other post.) These particular annuals love the cool weather and will stop blooming in the heat of the summer.
What I love about annuals, is the constant cheery color and the fact that you can pull them out and plant something different in their place for the next season. Not to mention the fact that they are my go-to for a lot of container plantings.
Since annuals put on such a constant show of color I think they compliment perennials very well.
And certain annuals can really attract a lot of pollinators…like zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers for starters.
PERENNIALS (the ones that do come back each year)
What perennials do is save you time and money. While they may cost more upfront, you only have to buy and plant them once and you are done. So, if you want a more low-maintenance garden, then go with perennials.
One of the best things about perennials is if you choose ones that are native to your region they usually thrive in poor to average soil conditions, meaning you don’t need to fuss over them much after the first year and the native perennials attract and support your pollinators.
While perennials will bloom in their first season, what they are also doing is getting themselves well established, so that they can really put on a show for you in the years to come.
For me Perennials are the foundation of a garden, they set the tone, they provide a natural look to the landscape and are excellent at bringing in and supporting pollinators which are so very important.
A Quick Recap
Ok., so now you have a much better understanding of what an Annual is versus a Perennial.
The Annuals are the plants that you will have to replace yearly…annually. And the perennials are the plants that keep coming back…re-emerging each spring.
They are both pretty awesome in their own right…both offer something a little different.
Happy shopping and don’t think you have to choose between the two. If I were you I would go with both, this way you have the best of both worlds.