What’s the Difference Between a Perennial and an Annual?

Planning for your garden or container planted patio area means understanding how the plants you intend to grow will bloom over time. Annuals will behave differently from perennial plants, so it’s important to know the differences to make the most of your gardening experience.

Characteristics of Perennials

Perennials let their leaves and stems to die down during the winter months. In short, they sleep, coming back to life in the spring after a rejuvenating slumber. Plants bought from the garden centre in pots can be planted at any time of the year. Sometimes they can be sold without pots or soil (bare root) and these plants need to be planted in winter. While some varieties may only last for several years, truly hardy varieties such as Geranium Rozanne will return each year for decades as strong and thriving as ever.

Difference Between a Perennial and an Annual PinterestPerennial flowers can be found in a variety of colors. Examples of perennials include:

One great advantage of perennial plantings is their longevity. A gardener can make an investment in time and money, and see the fruits of those labours return again and again for years to come.

Characteristics of Annuals

As the name indicates, an annual is a flower or plant that lives only one year or season. Each spring it needs to be replanted, either from seed or from a starter plant acquired from the local garden centre.  An annual sprouts, grows, flowers, sets seed and dies all in one year.

Annual flowers tend to come in flamboyant colors, giving a good show for the time they are alive. Examples of annuals include:

  • Pelargonium
  • African daisy
  • Marigolds
  • Begonia
  • Bidens
  • Blood flower
  • Morning glory
  • California poppy
  • Petunia

Annuals must be replaced every year, so they wouldn’t make a good long term investment in time or money for the gardening enthusiast looking to create a regenerative landscape that blooms to life each spring anew. But since they do not require much commitment, and are on average less expensive than perennials, they are good experimentation plants that don’t carry as many financial consequences.

 

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