The Wednesday Dig: Annuals vs Perennials

Today we’re going to look at some common garden terms and their definitions.

Annuals are a type of plant that goes through its entire life-cycle (from seed to flower) in one season. They are almost always outdoor plants and usually refer to plants that live one Summer and die. An easy way to remember an annual plant is you have to replant them ANNUALY. This category of plant includes most food plants and several ornamental plants that grow in the Spring and die by the time late Fall rolls around. Some examples are: corn, marigolds and lobelia.

Annuals vs. Perennials from The Wanderer Guides Blog. #gardenings #gardeningideas

Because annuals are such short lived plants, they require a semi-different version of standard plant care:

  • Fertilize at least twice during their growing season, once when they start to leaf out and once just as they start to set flowers.
  • Prune often! Pinching weak stems off and taking off the flowers that are fading will keep your annuals producing longer.
  • Keep them well watered! Annuals generally need enough water to provide a great deal of growth in a short amount of time.

Perennial is a tricky term. It refers to plants that have a life-cycle longer than two years–this can technically mean a lot of plants. However, as you see in nurseries on plant tags, it generally means smaller shrub-like plants (aka not trees) that have a longer life than two years (but that die back during the Winter). This includes plants like Mexican Sage bush, lavender, and Chrysanthemums.

Annuals vs. Perennials from The Wanderer Guides Blog. #gardenings #gardeningideas

Perennials are hardy plants that don’t die back completely but leave you feeling like you get a whole new plant every growing season. As such, care for them in the following ways:

  • Cut these guys back at the end of their growing season. When you cut them back, you want to cut back to where the bark of the stems is harder and more woody. Stop there and it will sprout all new growth the following season.
  • To extend the flowering season, pull off fading flowers and feed once a year at the start of the plant’s growth cycle.

Happy Digging!