Annuals vs. Perennials

"Every flower blooms in its own time." — Ken Petti


Every client wants a garden that blooms from early spring through fall.  They want a variety of flowers that peak at different times, and colors that pop for three straight seasons.  And… they want it to come back year after year with minimal effort.  It’s a lot to ask for, but it can be done with a mix of perennials and annuals.  

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When planning a garden, I suggest choosing 85%-90% perennials, and 10%-15% annuals. Planting both, and carefully selecting the right plants for your zone, will produce a parade of color from April through October.  Before choosing your favorites, it’s important to understand the differences between them.  



Perennials return every year. Their blooms typically last a few weeks, but there are some varieties that last for months.  It can take a few years for some perennials to reach their full potential (which is often pictured on the tag when you purchase them), but your patience will definitely be rewarded.  They are low maintenance since they don’t need to be cleared out at the end of the season or replanted year after year.  Some perennials only last 3-5 years, but others can last a lifetime.  

Some of my favorites include coneflowers, astilbe, and coreopsis. 



Annuals have one life cycle, and therefore will not return each year.  But— they bring the magic to any garden.  Annuals produce many more flowers than perennials and bloom for a much longer period of time. If there are sections of your garden that don’t bloom until early summer, you can throw in some annuals for instant color.  They take a bit more effort because they need to be planted each year and cleared out at the end of the season, but because of their shallow roots they require less digging than perennials.  Keep in mind that some annuals are meant for cooler weather and others for warmer weather.  

Some of my favorites include zinnias, snapdragons, and marigolds.  



It takes a little planning to get the garden of your dreams, but identifying the gaps and tucking in annuals as needed will create a colorful show for months on end. 

Happy Planting!


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