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Annuals Vs. Perennials – The Ultimate Bloom-Off

Perennials

Most people keep houseplants for the natural vibe they add to their homes! But then there’s a specific lot who like to keep indoor plants to add color and a florid scent to their place.

Regardless of which category you belong to, I’m pretty sure this article will interest you, as we’re about to have the ultimate bloom-off between annual and perennial plants!

So let’s get started!

What are Annual Plants?

Annual plants are the plants that complete their life cycle in one growing season i.e. germinate, flowers set seed, and die in a single season. These plants usually have a long bloom season until the first frost arrives, adding bright colors to your garden. 

The key characteristic of annual plants is that they do not return, however, they do drop seeds which can then be collected (or left alone) to grow new plants in the next season. Furthermore, annual plants can be planted in any season, even in midsummer. 

3 Types of Annuals

Depending upon the ability of an annual plant to withstand frost and cold temperatures, they are categorized into three types; tender annuals, hardy annuals, and half-hardy annuals. 

Tender Annuals:

Tender annuals also known as summer annuals are the ones that thrive in summers and hot weather such as tropical and sub-tropical weather.

Cold weather does not suit tender annuals. Late spring is the most ideal time to plant these in your gardens. Examples of tender annuals include begonia, coleus, vinca, etc. 

Hardy Annuals:

Hardy annuals also known as winter annuals are the ones that can withstand cold to moderate temperatures such as the ones in early spring and fall.

Furthermore, these plants can also bear a little frost without any protection required. Examples of hardy annuals include bachelor’s buttons, larkspur, Oriya, etc. 

Half-hardy Annuals:

Half-hardy annuals as the name suggests, walk in the middle of the road. Such plants are able to withstand a wide range of temperatures.

These plants can also grow in cooler weather such as the start or end of the gardening season, Examples of half-hardy annuals are cosmos, nicotiana, zinnia, etc.

Why Keep Annual Plants?

Now the question arises, why should you plant annual plants in your garden and homes. Well, the following reasons are the answer:

Quick Growth:

Annual plants have quick growth as they have to do everything in one season so they germinate, flower, and grow quickly. 

Long Blooms:

Annual plants stay in bloom all through the season until the first frost arrives. Moreover, they have very pretty blooms as they put all of their energy into developing flowers. 

Variety of Colors:

Due to their short life cycle, annual plants must attract pollinators as soon as possible. So, naturally, they have more bright and vivid colors of flowers. You can use this to your advantage by creating a color palette in your garden. 

 Easy to Grow:

In order to grow annual plants, all you have to do is plant them, water back, and sit back to enjoy the show. They don’t require much care and attention. 

List of Famous Annuals

Choosing the right kind of plant for your garden is really important. So, if you are confused about which annual plant to get for your garden, then here is a list of the most famous annual plants out there. Read through the list and take a pick! 

  • Angelonia
  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons
  • Sweet Alyssum 
  • Cornflower
  • Dahlias
  • Geraniums
  • Sunflowers
  • Petunia
  • Larkspur

What are Perennial Plants?

The word “Perennial” literally translates to “through the years” so, perennial plants are the plants that live longer than two years. The top portion dies out but it regrows from the same root system the next year. These plants require a lot of initial investment but do not need yearly maintenance. 

Perennials have a short period of bloom (about two to six weeks). Since they have to regrow next year, they put most of their energy into developing strong roots rather than focusing on the bloom. Furthermore, the best time for growing perennials is in the fall or spring. 

Why Keep Perennials?

Now let’s look at why you should think about adding perennials to your gardens.

Long-term Investment:

Perennials are a one-time investment due to their long lives. Once you plant them, you don’t have to go through the trouble of planting them from scratch every year.

Benefit Other Plants:

Due to the deep root system of the perennials, they draw water and nutrients to the surface which not only benefits the perennials themselves but also the plants and vegetation around them. 

Variety:

Perennials offer a wide variety not only in terms of beauty but also in terms of blooming time periods. This can help you in planning your garden so that it is never empty.  

List of Famous Perennials

If you are looking for the right perennials to plant in your garden, here is a list of the most famous perennials. 

  • Peonies
  • Coneflowers
  • Daylilies
  • Hollyhocks
  • Hellebores
  • Lavender
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Daffodils
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Catnip 

The Difference?

If you’re still confused about how annuals and perennials differ from each other, we have compiled all the major differences in the table below:

AnnualsPerennials
Ideal Time to PlantAny season, even midsummerSpring or Fall
Life SpanOne growing seasonTwo or more years
Bloom timeLong time until the first frost arrivesTwo to six weeks
Best FeatureLong bloomsLess overall maintenance 

FAQs

Do perennials come back or annuals?

A perennial plant is one that comes back every year from the roots. When you plant an annual, you will need to plant it again every year. However, if you have perennial plants, you only have to plant them once and they will continue to grow each year.

Can you plant perennials in pots?

You can grow most perennials in pots, but you may need to change them out every year. The biggest issue is that perennials need a lot of soil, so the pot size will be limited. You can also end up with root rot if you don’t provide proper drainage.

Will perennials survive a frost?

No, perennials will not survive a frost. A frost occurs when the temperature drops below freezing and can damage or kill perennials. To protect your perennials from a frost, plant them in a sheltered area away from wind and sun exposure. You can also use glass or plastic covers to protect your plants from the weather. If necessary, you can also bring your plants indoors for the winter.

Conclusion

Although annuals and perennials have their own unique benefits, you can get the best results by combining the two. Plan and plant both types of plants in your garden and see them outshine the rest of the neighborhood! 

Written by Chris Buckland

Hello, I’m Chris. I’m a houseplant expert. I have been Cultivating and Growing Houseplants for 20 years. Plants are like my children. I love to write about Indoor plants and share my experience. That's why I started writing everything I know about houseplants.

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