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The Difference Between Annuals and Perennials?

difference between annuals and perennials

When it comes to plants, there are two main types: annual plants and perennial plants. Understanding the difference between annuals and perennials will help you choose the right plant for your home or garden. The short answer is that the main difference between the two is their overall lifecycle. 

The Difference Between Annuals and Perennials?

There is a bit more to it than that which we will explain in more detail below.

What Is A Plant Life Cycle?

Before we get into the difference between annual plants and perennial plants, let’s talk about their life cycles. A plant’s life cycle starts when the plant is still a seed and culminates at the point where a plant produces seeds of its own or can be split for propagating. In botanic terms, annual plants start and finish their life cycle all within one growing season. Typically, this season starts in the spring and ends in the fall, but some plants may have winter growth seasons.

Annual Plants Explained

For annuals, seeds from the previous year are planted in the spring. When those plants sprout and grow over the year, they will eventually produce seeds in the summer or early fall. At the end of the season, typically mid-fall, the new plants will produce seeds which means they have come to the end of their life cycle. Once annuals bear seeds, their purpose is complete and they will die as the winter fronts sets in.

Annuals can be saved or rather their life cycle extended if they are deadheaded at the end of summer. This encourages annual flowers to rebloom in the fall so that you essentially get two seasons of growth from the same plant. Deadheading is a gardening trick that many homeowners use to extend the lifespan of their annuals.

Perennial Plants Explained

Perennial plants and biennial plants start their life as a seed, but they don’t produce seeds during their first year of growth. Their life cycle is much longer and due to their slower rate of reproduction, will bloom several times before generating seeds. Many perennial plants though they have a longer life cycle, still have a general life span of three years. Perennial plants reproduce by both seed and underground rhizomes. Many perennial plants along with going dormant in the winter months are often replaced by their offspring without most plant owners even noticing.

How To Remember The Difference & Which Is Right For You

It is pretty easy to remember the difference, annuals are once a year and perennials are multi-year. Both types of plants offer their own benefits and drawbacks. Annual plants are often lower in upfront costs and sold in larger packs. Perennials are typically higher in cost and sold in single pots or root balls. Annuals are great for homeowners who are looking for an instant transformation of their yard or garden, while the latter is better for property owners who are planting for the long haul.

If you are looking to create a vibrantly colored garden for the summer or early fall, annuals are a great choice. You can uproot them or even plant over them during the next growing season for an ever-changing landscape or garden view.

For property owners interested in creating a more permanent design in their yard or garden can benefit from planting perennials. Just keep in mind these plants won’t bloom in their first year. Some nurseries may sell them once they start to bloom or you can buy and plant them while they are still seedlings. No matter which one you choose, make sure that you care for your plants properly so that they thrive all season long.

Arbor Hills Tree Farm & Nursery Omaha

We provide the Highest Quality Field Grown Nebraska Trees and Shrubs – directly to our customers, at the lowest possible price.

Whether you are looking for trees for:

  • new home landscaping
  • wind blockage
  • commercial or residential

Simply select the tree(s) you want and they will be ready for pick up or delivery the following Saturday Morning. The trees are easy to handle and plant. Click here for more information.