Growing Annuals and Perennials in the Garden – 2023 Guide

Both annual and perennial plants have their place in the garden, each offering bountiful blooms when located in the right spot. Some may be planted for unusual foliage, but most grow for the beauty of the flowers.

While most perennials return every spring, generally annuals die in the fall. Some annuals only live through spring and die back with the heat of summer. These cool-season plants sometimes bloom again as the weather cools in autumn. Annual flowers are often considered more showy and bountiful than those offered by perennial plants, at least at the beginning.

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The lifespan of Perennial and Annual Plants

Because perennial plants return year after year, their growth is slower. Usually, as suggested by, the optimum perennial bloom is not fully completed until the third year after planting. Annual plants, however, complete their growth cycle within the first year and provide a full bloom cycle during that time.

Occasionally, you’ll grow a biennial plant, which completes its life cycle for two years. These sometimes don’t bloom until the second year.

Perennial plants often bloom during their first year, but flowers are not as large or as abundant as they will be in the following years. The first year of sustained growth is mostly spent developing a robust root system, upon which the plant will grow for the following years.

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Foliage and form develop during the early years of sustained growth. Perennials may be shrubs and trees, as well as vines and standard plants. Larger plants take longer to develop, hence blooms fully may not always appear during the first year.

Annual plants are showy with full blooms right from the start. Multiple buds may appear before they open to become flowers. Various annuals grow in all seasons except those that have freezing winters.

Research Before Planting

Research your plants to learn which ones grow best in the cooler days of spring and those that excel during the summer heat. Often, a feeding of high-phosphorous fertilizer will help create bigger flowers that last longer. Always water before applying liquid fertilizer.

Many annuals die in the fall when cooler temperature arrives. Some bloom until frost or even freezing temperatures occur. Annuals most often do not return next year. However, some plants are mistakenly labeled as annual but are perennials. These may return.

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Perennial plants may die back in autumn. These are called herbaceous perennials. They will return in spring or summer. Evergreen perennials retain green foliage year-round, with a new show of flowers at their assigned bloom time next year.

Grow a combination of annual plants along with those perennials in your garden that return each year for the most beautiful flower bed. It will add curb appeal to your garden as you plant new annuals while watching for perennials returns every spring.