Annuals and Perennials

What's the term to describe plants that grow, reproduce, and die all in one season?

And the answer: annuals.    

Unlike perennials which persist for many growing seasons, annuals are plants that only last for one, typically from spring to autumn. Many colorful flowers are annuals, such as geraniums, petunias, and marigolds.

Photo credit: Tetra Images. 

What is it that makes an annual plant special, exactly? Well, for one, these plants may be short-lived in the growing season, but their blooms are not. In fact, annuals tend to produce a bloom for about an entire season. And while these blooms may be beautiful, it's not just that: annuals actually produce seeds to store throughout the winter during the period of bloom. After they bloom, annual plants die off, letting their seeds grow and germinate to produce the next batch of flowers the following year.

The vast majority of other plants, however, fall under the category of perennials. Flowers such as daisies, hollyhock, and fall phlox, and herbs like lavender and sage, are all examples of perennials. Unlike annuals, perennials don't die after producing seed. Instead, they continue their cycle of seed production into the year.

So, to sum it all up: a massive display of flowers for a distinct period of time (they usually require replanting in the new season) indicates annual plants, while perennials will bring flowers back year after year.

Learn more about the selection and cultivation of these two plant types below.

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