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A Beginner's Guide to Annual and Perennial Flowers (and the People Who Plant Them)

Updated on March 29, 2017
alezafree profile image

Aleza Freeman is a prolific freelance writer living in Las Vegas with her husband, son, two cats, a snoring dog, and the occasional spider.

A healthy mix of annuals and perennials makes for a beautiful garden.
A healthy mix of annuals and perennials makes for a beautiful garden. | Source

Annual vs. Perennial ... Wha?

You stand in the nursery paralyzed. Flowers surrounded you from every side. Red flowers, purple flowers, yellow flowers ... Big flowers, medium flowers, tiny little flowers ... Fragrant flowers in all stages of bloom.

These colorful flowers are probably divided into two distinct categories: Annuals and Perennials. You've likely heard both terms thousands of times. But have you ever really thought about this garden variety, and how it applies to your own garden?

If you're new to gardening, planting flowers or you're curious about the pros and cons of annuals and perennials during Spring and Fall gardening seasons, you're not alone. Many first-time gardeners have encountered this flower-filled dilemma.

Read on to for some basic differences between the two types of plants, and to find out if you are an annual person or a perennial person.

Are you an Annual Person or a Perennial Person?

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In This Corner: The Annual

Petunias | Source

An annual is a plant or flower that lives for only one growing season. In other words, annuals enjoy their entire life cycle during that season: They germinate, blossom, produce seed and ... alas ... die.

Pros of annual flowers

  1. Beautiful colors will fill your garden all year long – Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter – as long as you replace the flowers after each blooming season.
  2. You will never get sick of your flowers or your garden because you're changing them out on a regular basis.
  3. These flowers are good in containers or garden beds.
  4. They add a bit of brightness and color to any location where they're planted.

Cons of annual flowers

  1. These flowers are a bit more high maintenance since they need to be replaced every few months.
  2. They will die season to season and will need to be removed from your garden. So don't get too attached!

Marigolds | Source

Examples of annual flowers

  • Marigold
  • Pansies
  • Petunia
  • Sunflower
  • Verbena
  • Zinnia

In This Corner: The Perennial

Daisies | Source

A perennial plant or flower has a life cycle of more than two years. Perennials stick around. They survive winter and drought, re-blooming during growing seasons.

Pros of perennial flowers

  1. Low maintenance with a long lifespan.
  2. They will re-bloom for several years.
  3. You won't have to constantly plant and replant.

Cons of perennial flowers

  1. Perennials often reproduce, which may cause overcrowding, so they may need thinning.
  2. They won't necessarily provide color all year long.
  3. Once their roots are established, it's best to leave them where they are.

Dahlias | Source

Examples of perennial flowers

  • Baby's Breath
  • Daffodils
  • Irises
  • Tulips
  • Peonies
  • Dahlias

And the Winner is ...

A little from column A, a little from column ... P.

Life is too short to take sides, especially when it comes to gardening. So why not mix and match? You will have a beautiful garden all year round, and you'll also be able to customize a bit from season to season.

That, my friends, is the power of the flower!

© 2012 Aleza Freeman


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    • Brook Health Care profile image

      Linda Shanabrook 5 years ago

      So true! Thank you for the article.

    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 5 years ago from Miller Lake

      I am all for flower power I no longer have a yard but I have lots of flowers on my balcony and my landlady just commented on how lovely they look. Thanks for sharing.

    • mvillecat profile image

      Catherine Dean 5 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Flowers are very addicting! Try gardening with native plants, too. It is very good for the environment. I voted up.

    • alezafree profile image

      Aleza Freeman 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thanks @toomuchmint and @Patsybell! I definitely know the feeling of too much mint. I actually found mint growing in my garden by accident. Now I have a huge crop!

    • toomuchmint profile image

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      I'm definitely a perennial person. Thanks for such an entertaining read. Voted up and awesome.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      Enjoyed. voted up and useful. Good information and rgis is a very thoughtful HUB.

    • alezafree profile image

      Aleza Freeman 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thanks @RTalloni. I've been trying to turn my blue thumb green, one flower at a time.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      A hub to make a gardener smile. Indeed, that is the power of the flower. :)