What’s the Difference?
Perennial plants regrow year after year, while annuals last for one season and then die. Annuals have a longer blooming season than perennials, and can help bring a burst of color to your garden from spring to the first frost. There are also biennials, which bloom the year after planting.
Choosing which ones to Plant
Using a combination of annuals and perennials creates a beautiful flower garden. Perennials are a great backbone to a flower bed, many require little upkeep and since they keep coming back year after year, the higher upfront cost is offset. Plus, you have less holes to dig each year! You’ll need to research your perennials to learn about what maintenance they need. For example, hydrangeas need dead wood removed, some perennials (such as hostas) perform better when they are divided every few years, and removing dead flowers (deadheading) helps the plant refocus energy on new buds instead of on seeding. Once perennials start growing again after a dormant winter, they’ll need to be covered during spring frosts. The typical bloom time for perennials is in the spring/early summer, which is why adding annuals each year is a great idea to maintain color throughout the summer.
Annuals have low upfront cost, add color when perennial flowers start to fade, and fill in bare spots in your garden bed. Annuals are a great option for hanging baskets and planters and provide instant gratification. They do require more watering compared to well established perennials, especially on hotter days or if they are exposed to the sun for long hours.
Tips for Planting
Read the label and plant accordingly, it will say how much sun the plant can tolerate. Give the plant plenty of water after planting while it is trying to establish itself in its new home. Mulch around the plant to help it retain moisture and prevent weeds competing for nutrients. Spread out compost to enhance your soil. Stand back and enjoy your hard work!