What Is the Difference Between an Annual and a Perennial?
One of the most common questions customers ask our Garden Center associates as is “What is the difference between an annual and a perennial?” Simply stated, annuals typically live for only one growing season and bloom spring through fall, while perennials last for many years, only blooming once or more per season.
We recommend planting both in your garden. Growing annuals can give your garden a new look each season, experimenting with new plants and color schemes each year. Annuals add bold color spring through fall. Adding perennials to your garden provides continuity from year to year, reaching maturity in 3 to 5 years. While some only bloom a few weeks many bloom continually all season, and perennial foliage adds beauty to your garden throughout the year.
Both types help your garden become a haven for bees and other pollinators. If bloom times are staggered over the growing season, it creates a consistent source of food, and therefore a refuge for important co-tenants in our habitats, such as bees. Pollinators are creatures of habit and will grow their populations around sustainable and uninterrupted sources of food.
Perennials also have other benefits:
- Perennials Are a Good Investment
Coming back every year — and grow bigger and better as they do so — perennials are a great investment. Pay for them once and enjoy years of beauty. As they grow, many perennials benefit from being divided, which means you have more plants at no cost.
- Perennials Create an Ever-Changing Tapestry of Color
With a little careful planning, you can plant different varieties of perennials to give your yard a different look in different seasons. For example, you can start with soft colors like pink and blue in spring, then transition into yellow and red for summer, and finally orange and purple in autumn.
- Perennials Tolerate the Weather
Unlike annuals, perennials have evolved to come back season after season, so they’ve had a lot of practice making sure they have the right timing. If you live in a cold climate, you rarely have to worry about perennials coming up too early and getting zapped by a sudden onset of cold temperatures (unlike tomatoes and other warm-season annuals). You can also find varieties that work best in your yard – from shade-loving types to drought-tolerant.
Some benefits of annuals:
- Annuals add bright and vivid color
If you can imagine a color, chances are there’s an annual that blooms to match it. They add a nice pop of color. Those who live in cold regions with short growing seasons can group annual flowers closer together to create quick, high-impact color.
- Blooming Annuals grows quickly, and bloom all season long
Blooming Annuals are very popular because you can walk into our Garden Center and purchase them in various stages of bloom – ready to plant and preform at their height of beauty. Most will continue to produce flowers throughout the season. Since they bloom so quickly, they are also a great “in between” solution for garden vibrancy while you wait on your perennials or other types of plants to grow to their best.
- Annuals are budget-friendly
Annuals typically cost less than perennials, whether you buy them as seeds or seedlings. You can fill your garden with bright blooms and change out colors each year.
Both annuals and perennials work well for container gardening. If you don’t have a lot of space or just want to garden on your deck, annuals love bloom in window beds, containers and pots of all sizes, in all types of environments. While most people probably think about using annuals first in their pots and planters, perennials offer a unique advantage: At the end of the season, you can remove them from their pots, plant them in the ground, and enjoy them for years to come.
With shipments from the best growers arriving throughout the spring, visit your local Ace Garden Center every few weeks to add color instantly to your garden with an annual, or select a perennial that is currently in bloom to add more color to your garden now and that will keep blooming for years to come.