The official start of spring is just about here, and that means planting season is almost here! If you are not well-versed in planting options, the difference between annuals and perennials may be a bit confusing. So what is the difference between these two types of flowers? Glad you asked … let’s dig in (pun intended)!


Annuals are flowers that last one season only*. In other words, you plant them, they bloom, they die, and that’s it. You’ll need to remove and replace them next planting season. Annuals include marigolds, zinnias, impatiens, begonias, coleus, and pentas. The benefit of annuals is their blooming seasons tend to be longer than that of perennials.

*There are a couple of ways to make annual flowers perennials. The first is reseeding annuals, where the seeds from the flowers drop to the ground and then new plants appear the following year. The second way is “overwintering.” These plants are tender perennials that are treated like annuals because of cold winters, but if you remove the cold and give them winter sun, they become perennials.


We’ve used the term perennials a few times now, so what are they? Perennials are flowers that come back year after year. They bloom one or more times during the year, then go dormant until blooming season arrives again. Peonies, asters, roses, mums, coneflowers, hostas, and daylilies are popular perennials.


While most people think in terms of annuals and perennials, there is a third option when it comes to flowers: biennials. These require two years of care to establish before blooming. Popular biennials include foxglove and sweet William.


So, what is the best choice for your garden? There is no right or wrong answer here. The choice is yours depending on your preferences and needs. If you aren’t sure what you’d like in your garden and don’t want to be committed to certain flowers, annuals are a great option since they won’t come back year after year. You can play with colors and shapes before committing to something more permanent. If you don’t have a lot of time to garden, perennials would be a great choice for you. You’ll have to commit less time to your garden each season because you won’t have to replant flowers.

Whether you go with annuals or perennials, make sure you are considering all factors and planting properly. This includes considering sun coverage or lack thereof, the planting zone you are in, and blooming season. There are flower options for all seasons, so if you plan it right, you could have color in your garden throughout the year. Read plant labels carefully and consult with local nurseries to find plants that will work well in your garden.

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