As the snow melts (finally), some of you may be thinking about what you’ll be planting in your garden this year. One of the most common questions that we hear from customers is “what’s the difference between annuals and perennials?”. Before you start planning out your garden, it’s important to understand the difference between annuals and perennials. It’s totally understandable that someone may feel a bit confused by this walking through a greenhouse. With so many varieties of plants available, sometimes it can be difficult to tell the two apart.
What is an Annual?
Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle within one season. They go from seed to bloom and back to seed in one single season. Unlike perennials, you need to plant annuals in your garden every year. In other words, “they don’t come back” but the greatest advantage is that they usually bloom all season.
Popular annuals include: marigolds, impatiens, zinnias, geraniums, petunias and pansies. Some annuals, such as pansies, are self-seeding, meaning they may come back next year but this is not considered a perennial.
Other advantages of using annuals in your garden:
- Whether you buy plants or start from seed, annuals are relatively inexpensive to grow.
- Because annuals only last one season, you can experiment with a wide range of colors and textures every year.
- Annuals are awesome for filling in bare spaces around your perennial garden.
- Annuals provide all-season colour in pots and containers.
- Annuals come in a wide range of colours, shapes, sizes and textures. Some require full sun while others may require full shade. Wherever you want to plant, there is an annual for you. Depending on which variety you pick, some annuals also offer special characteristics such as disease resistance.
What is a Perennial?
Perennials are plants that can live for three or more seasons. They can be planted from bulb, root or seed. You can also purchase young plants at your local garden centre. Generally speaking, perennials have a shorter blooming time than annuals so it’s not uncommon to plant different varieties of perennials that bloom at different times to maintain constant color from spring to autumn. Keep in mind that if you are growing perennials from seed, they will not bloom the first year so they do require a bit of patience.
Popular perennials include: lilies, sedum, gladiolas, delphininium and hostas. Although perennials are often times more expensive than annuals at a garden centre, they tend to be a better investment because they are long-lived. Also, as they grow bigger (after a couple of years), you can split them and plant them in other areas of your garden.
For more information, please visit Belleisle Gardens and talk to our knowledgeable staff who can help you pick out what you need.