A Garden Center’s Guide to Annuals and Perennials


Both annuals and perennials are essential in a garden. It is useful, however, to know what sets them apart so that they can be arranged in combinations that ensure a garden is as full and vibrant as possible at all times. Read on before visiting the plant nursery so that you are prepared for how each type of plant will behave.

What Are Annuals?

Annuals are plants that flower and die in a single season. This does not mean that your investment in the plant will see its course after just one season. These plants drop seeds that give rise to new plants in the spring.

What Are Perennials?

Perennials return year after year. The plant may appear to die, but this is only true for the uppermost, visible structures. The underlying root system remains to stimulate new growth next spring.

What Are the Advantages of Planting Annuals?

Annuals tend to bloom throughout the season until they are killed by frost. They can, therefore, offer a consistent and reliable dose of color to your overall softscape throughout the growing season. Perennials bloom for a shorter period of time and also offer less glamorous displays of color. Annuals are renowned for being dramatic in appearance, and rightly so, as it is vital that they are pollinated and produce seeds before winter. Annuals can also be planted at any time, depending on whether a vibrant garden is being prepared in spring or a disappointing softscape is being refreshed mid-summer. Perennials fair best when planted in the spring or fall, and should not be planted less than six weeks before the ground is expected to freeze.

What Are the Advantages of Planting Perennials?

The re-growth of a plant from a strong, healthy root system may be more reliable than the emergence of a new plant from a seed. The plant is also guaranteed to remain in the same spot and increase in size and strength. Annuals, on the other hand, can have their seeds spread throughout your garden and require complete replanting if no new plants emerge in the area where the annuals have died. Perennials grow larger and more impressive as the years pass until they grow so large, in fact, that they require division.

Which Is Better?

Neither annuals nor perennials can offer you a better result. Both have their advantages and drawbacks. Therefore, the best planting strategy involves combining them both into a single flowering arrangement to allow the strengths of one variety to support the weaknesses of another. While perennials may not reach their most impressive form during their first season in your garden, annuals can pick up the slack in that area until they do. Planting a variety of perennials that bloom at slightly different times can create a reliable backbone for your garden. Annuals can then be used to add more color where needed and refresh the overall softscape from one year to the next. Having a combination of both annuals and perennials also attracts more pollinators, which ensure that a garden remains lively and fertile.