Perennials vs Annuals

Perennial and annual flowers have their pros and cons, but if you want color all season long, you’ll want to incorporate both. A carefully planned garden will have perennials that bloom at different times so that for each season, there is something blooming in some part of the garden.

Perennials and Biennials

 Perennials and biennials are zone specific. Biennials grow without blooming the first year, bloom and set seed the second year, then start the cycle over again.  They thrive best in the range of temperatures (hardiness zones) that suit them. Plants that are perennial in hardiness zones 7 and higher may not survive zones below 7.  In the U.S., zones range from 10 at the southernmost tip of the country to 1 at the northernmost border. See the zone map,  for your hardiness zone.


  • Most are long lived
  • Most are easy to care for
  • Most return every spring
  • Reliable color each season


  • They die back in winter unless they are evergreens
  • They may have short bloom times and may only bloom the year following planting
  • They may be fussy about soil, light, and water
  • They take longer to grow to maturity


Annual flowers grow from seed, bloom all season, and die with the first frost in the fall.  They will be the dressing in your garden, filling in blooms and providing continuous color when perennials have finished blooming.


  • They grow to maturity quickly
  • They are less expensive than perennials
  • They bloom continuously
  • Grow all year in warm winter climates


  • Must be purchased every year
  • Must be watered and fertilized frequently
  • Cannot live through cold winters
  • More prone to insect infestations

When planning your garden this year, try to incorporate trees, shrubs, perennials, biennials and annuals.  It may take several years to develop your garden, but don’t lose hope.  Every year is an opportunity to start over, add some plants here, move some to another location, and fill in some holes.  Gardens are always evolving.  Have fun with yours and know that you will have both success and failure.  That’s part of the process.


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