Annuals Vs Perennials and Biennials, What’s The Difference?

Growing plants can be all fun and exciting. But just like any other discipline, gardening requires a certain amount of research before getting dived into. 

When you plan your gardening in advance, you allow for more control over how to put together your garden will turn out, since the plants won’t be scattered around the garden arbitrarily.

When it comes to choosing the right type of plants for your garden, it is important to know the characteristics of each one.

Annuals or Perennials? Read through this article to know which type would best suit your garden.


Annuals Vs Perennials and Biennials, What's The Difference? 1

Annual plants complete their life cycle in one year. They grow from seed, flower, produce some new seeds that could potentially grow new plants during spring, then die.

Annuals are not robust enough to survive the winter cold and that’s why they only last for one season. They typically bloom for a long time, offering beautiful variations of colors from spring through fall.

If properly taken care of, they can bloom for a whole growing season. You just need to keep an eye on them and make sure they are trimmed back and spent blooms are removed to give way for new ones to come out.

Some of the best annuals among gardeners are petunias, impatiens and marigolds.


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As opposed to annuals, Perennials come back year after year, growing  and expanding until they reach maturity, which occurs 3 to 5 years on average. Each year, they grow, bloom for a much shorter period than annuals (generally 2 to 6 weeks), then go dormant.

During winter, the upper portion dies back, it needs to be cut off so that the new growth may appear again in spring from the same root system.

Some of the most popular perennials include Lilies, Tulips, Lavender and Asters.

Note that some annuals can become perennials in warmer climates, just like some perennials may perform as annuals when taken away from their home region.

Snapdragon is a popular example of a plant that acts as an annual in cold climates and a perennial in warm climates. This type of plants is commonly referred to as “Half-hardy annuals” or “Tender perennials”.


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Now that the distinction between annuals and perennials is clear, let me introduce you to a subtype of plants, it’s called biennials, they have a life span of two years and characteristics of both types.

How? Well, during their first year, they grow as green plants, survive the winter, just like perennials, then bloom the following year, which makes people confuse them for annuals. Foxgloves and hollyhocks are popular examples of biennial plants.

Now, given all the above, why would you choose one over the other?

The answer is quite simple: don’t. To each their perks and quirks, and both are necessary for a well-balanced garden. While annuals offer diversity and color to your garden, perennials, with their difference in height, will give more depth to your garden, and be the central component that will stay around for much longer if properly cared for.

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