Choosing Between Annuals And Perennials? Read This First

Choosing Between Annuals and Perennials? Read This First

Making the choice between annuals and perennials is a significant decision for gardeners. Real gardeners put a lot of thought and effort in to their choices and plantings. The choice,
however, can be quite difficult. In some parts of the country, the local annual flowers are fantastic. In others, the perennials are right at home, and flower generously.

Then there’s the question of personal taste, and that’s where you start making tough choices. The big difference between annuals and perennials is their lifespan. Annuals are one-year flowers. Perennials are classified as plants which grow and flower for three or more years. (There is another sub-category of plants called biennials, which live for two years, and include famous plants like foxgloves.)

The lifespan of flowers also directly relates to the amount of work involved in growing them, which flowers you’re considering, and your seasonal design ideas.


Annuals can deliver truly spectacular floral displays, and they really do grow quickly and brilliantly. Typically, annuals are also good for color design purposes. Annuals offer a true designer palette. The annuals cover the full spectrum from deep glorious reds to ultra-blues. If you want to have some real fun in garden design, and make every year an adventure, annuals will do it all for you. They’re great for experimenting, too, and you’ll find yourself scouring the internet and the nurseries for fabulous new plants.

If you’re a garden designer, you’ll also find that annuals produce a truly staggering array of shapes and forms for design. These plants create gorgeous displays, both by themselves and as parts of displays. It’s like having your own personal fireworks show.

The critical thing to remember in planting annuals is that they must have excellent soil preparation, the right light, and a good garden environment. Some places in the garden are great, some not so great. That’s where plant selection for garden design gets truly interesting, finding the right plants for shadier areas, and those which love full sun. Some of the most reliable annuals are also the toughest, like marigolds, begonias and other plants. Some annual plants even fight off garden pests. You’ll never be bored when selecting your annuals. Expect to have a really fascinating experience.


Perennials are the long lived tough guys in the garden. Most North American perennials are ultra-hardy in their natural environments, very strong plants which sometimes seem to do the gardening themselves. These plants are also ultra-useful in garden design and usually good fits for areas where annuals aren’t an option.

Perennials are an extremely versatile and variegated range of plants. They can fit in any kind of environment, from rocky hillsides to swamps. They have their own characteristics, and can fit in to niches in garden designs with ease. You can choose color, form, and mix them with your garden design ideas. They’re also good problem solvers for difficult areas where annuals aren’t the best choice.

If you’re thinking about your choices and want some help with selection of your annuals and perennials in New York, talk to us. We’re always happy to talk to fellow gardeners about design, so give us a call.

Choosing Between Annuals And Perennials? Read This First was last modified: January 29th, 2016 by Annalisa Ruggiero