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Although annual and perennial plants share similar germination requirements, they have unique lifecycles. The lifecycle is the germination process, from the seed to a blooming flower that produces seeds and finally death. Farmers need to learn how to differentiate between annual and perennial plants to create an affordable, beautiful garden or landscape.
What is an Annual Plant?
An annual plant lives one long budding season in one year. They typically bloom during summer and spring. They then start to wither at the end of autumn before dying out in winter. Examples of annual plants include petunia, beans, potatoes, marigolds, watermelons, and forget-me-nots.
What are Perennial Plants?
Perennial plants live for multiple growing seasons lasting more than two years. After planting, they bloom and flower each spring cycle for more than two years until they finally die. Examples of perennial plants include strawberries, poppies, daylilies, coneflowers, apples, sweet potatoes, and parsley.
Annual vs. Perennials
Let’s explore the differences between annual plants and perennial plants.
The lifecycle of an annual plant is one year. However, perennial plants live three to four years. After annual plants die, you can replant new seeds or replant seeds from the older plant the following spring.
With good care, perennial plants can last for 50 years. Some perennial plants can withstand the cold conditions of winter as their roots remain submerged in soil. However, those that cannot stand winter may need to be lifted, stored, and replanted during spring.
People interested in colorful gardens usually prefer annuals because they have longer flowering than perennial plants. Annual plants produce brightly colored flowers during the summer. They continue to bloom through spring before dying out at the end of autumn in preparation for winter.
Farmers or gardens can also use deadheading annual plants to produce more flowers. Although perennial plants have flowers, they last two to six weeks. They then wilt and are not as dominant and brightly colored as annual plants.
Despite the higher initial cost of purchasing perennial plants, they are more economical than annual plants. Unlike annual plants, most perennials do not do well when planted directly in a nursery and instead require potting. Perennial plants only require high maintenance during the first year. This is because after transfer to the soil, they require less maintenance than annual plants.
In the long run, annual plants cost more, especially for farmers and gardeners who make yearly purchases. The perennial plant offers tremendous economic investment for farmers, especially plants that produce edible vegetables and fruits.
When and Where to Plant
The best time for planting annual plants is during spring or midsummer, provided there are appropriate conditions for germination. Annual plants can grow anywhere because they still have one growing season within and outside their native climates.
However, it is best to plant perennial seeds or plants during spring when there is no risk of frosting. It is also best to grow them in their native climates to facilitate adequate pollination and reduce maintenance costs.
What You Should Grow: Annual vs. Perennials
Annual plants will offer a great choice if you intend to create a beautiful flower garden with an eye-catching summer landscape. They grow quickly and bloom beautiful flowers for longer. However, you should be prepared with annual replanting that would be costly unless you save the seeds. Besides the cost and high maintenance during the first year, perennial plants offer the best deal for the consumer in the long run.
Our Ellicott City and Columbia garden centers recommend perennials for their reliable long life cycles, which can be replenished even more through seed replanting. Although they do not flower much, they still offer a beautiful garden aesthetic from their foliage and form. Therefore, it would be best to purchase and grow perennial plants.