Perennial vs Annual Plants

Carolina Jessamine

Written by Crystal

Updated: August 22, 2023

Share on:


Gardens are a great way to learn about color matching. When you take advantage of complimenting hues, you can create a splash of color that expresses your inner gardener. For inspiration, it helps to visit other gardens to see how their vision came together.

You’ll also want to plant your flowers based off when they’ll be in full bloom. For instance, you need a mix of annual perennial vs annual plants.

Read on to learn about these two unique types of flowers and what they can do for your garden.

What Are Annuals?

Are Petunias Poisonous to Dogs or Cats - Purple Petunia

Petunias are popular annual plants.

Some common annual plants include impatiens, marigolds, zinnias, and petunias. An annual plant, in botanical terms, completes its life cycle in one growing season.

There are a lot of extinct plants that used to be annuals. The lifecycle includes transforming from a germinating seed to a mature flower with fruit and seeds.

Annuals are fast-growing and often produce big, showy flowers. Typically, the entire growing season only lasts a few short months. That’s why annual grain crops comprise 70% of Earth’s cropland and provide 80% of food worldwide.

Many gardeners enjoy planting annuals because they can fill in gaps in the garden or add color to an otherwise drab area. Annuals are typically easy to care for and require little maintenance.

Annuals are typically classified based on their blooming season. Spring annuals bloom from March to May, summer annuals bloom from June to August, and fall annuals bloom from September to November. Winter annuals are less common, but may bloom anytime between December and February.

Annual plants are popular with gardeners because they provide a burst of color during a specific season. Certain plant varieties can also attract fun garden lizards. Many annuals are drought-tolerant and can survive in hot, dry climates like Texas.

What Are Perennials?

Hibiscus Moscheutos

Hibiscus is a type of perennial.

Perennial plants are those that live for more than two years. Unlike annuals, which complete their life cycles in a single growing season, perennials live for many years. They can bloom multiple times throughout their growing season.

Perennials are typically slow-growing and may take a few years to reach their full potential. Once they are established, however, they require very little maintenance. Many gardeners appreciate the fact that perennials come back year after year without having to be replanted.

Some common perennial plants include daylilies, irises, black-eyed Susans, and lavender. As with annuals, perennials are typically classified based on their blooming season. Spring-blooming perennials typically flower in April or May, while summer-blooming perennials may flower as late as August or September.

Many perennials are also drought-tolerant. They can withstand the hottest and driest of environments without an issue.

Certain varieties of perennials even attract butterflies! You just have to be careful. If a plant attracts butterflies, it’s probably also prone to aphids. There are different types of aphids, and they can cause a lot of harm to perennials. Once you learn how to identify the pests, you can take action to get rid of them.

Annuals’ Hardiness to Cold

Annuals are usually hardy flowers, meaning they can withstand cold weather. This makes them ideal for planting in colder climates, as they will still bloom even when the temperature drops. However, there are some annuals that are not as hardy as others, so it is important to research which ones will thrive in your climate before planting them.

Flowering vs. Nonflowering

When it comes to annuals, there are two main types: those that flower and those that don’t. Flowering annuals include popular varieties such as pansies, impatiens, and petunias. These plants typically bloom for a period of six to eight weeks, and then their flowers fade and fall off. Non-flowering annuals, on the other hand, do not produce blooms but instead have foliage that is attractive in its own right. Examples of non-flowering annuals include coleus, ivy, and ferns.

Level of Care Required

Annuals are typically easy to care for, as they do not require much maintenance. However, it is essential to water them regularly, as they will quickly wilt if they do not have enough moisture. Additionally, annuals should be fertilized every few weeks to help them grow and bloom properly. Finally, it is important to deadhead annuals (remove spent blooms) to encourage them to produce more flowers.

Perennials Grown as Annuals

large dahlia flowers

You can plant dahlias as annuals.

When it comes to perennial vs annual, there is a middle ground. You can use short-lived garden perennials you grow from seed as annuals. You’ll be able to watch them flower in their first year. These special plants usually live for two years. For instance, bedding dahlias, impatiens, and geraniums can be used as annuals. Although they may not last as long, they often provide the most color in flower beds and containers.

Mixing and Matching Plants

get rid of aphids on roses overnight

Caring for your garden starts with the right plant selection.

You don’t have to choose between perennial vs annual flowers. There are rooms for both options, even in a small garden. Think about what you want to achieve with your planting. Are you looking for color throughout the season, or just for a brief burst in the spring or summer? Do you want a low-maintenance garden, or are you willing to put in the extra work required to keep delicate plants healthy?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

If you’re having trouble selecting between perennial vs annual, think about the long-term picture. Are you looking for color all season long? Then pick annuals.

If you want low-maintenance plants, select perennial species that are native to your area. They’ll be better adapted to the local climate and soil, and will require less watering.

Lastly, some flowers are best suited to cutting and bringing indoors, while others will add beauty to your yard or patio. Consider all of these factors when making your choices, and don’t be afraid to experiment. The worst that can happen is that a plant doesn’t thrive in its new home – you can always try something else next year.

Up Next

Share this post on:
About the Author

Crystal is a dedicated writer at A-Z Animals, focusing on topics related to mammals, insects, and travel. With over a decade of experience in the world of research and writing, she also fulfills the role of a skilled video and audio engineer. Residing in sunny Florida, alligators are Crystal's favorite animal.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.