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Before poking around in the backyard, gardeners need to know how long a plant will last around the garden. Savvy gardeners understand plant life cycle basics. They can identify a plant as an annual, perennial, or biennial. Even savvier gardeners can characterize winter annuals from tender perennials. They can differentiate between long - and short-lived perennials. A plant's life cycle goes from the time of germination until its eventual death. Some plants complete their life cycle in a matter of weeks, while others can take years before they die. Knowing these essential basics will equip gardeners with the know-how to select, plant, and maintain their gardens.
Perennial flowers, non-woody plants that live for three or more years, add a vibrant color to any garden. Some perennials have a life cycle of three to four years, while others complete it after many years. As with other flowering plants, perennials die over the winter and regrow when spring weather arrives. Perennials differ from annuals in that gardeners do not have to replant them every year. In addition, perennials require little fertilizer to flourish. Many gardeners plant perennials for their interesting form and foliage. If planted correctly, they can create a beautiful landscape mixed well with rocks, fences, borders, and other features. They also blend well with other flowers.
Perennial Flowers: HowStuffWorks answers important questions about growing perennial flowers.
Growing Perennial Flowers: Find out why many gardeners consider perennials the backbone of their flower garden.
Xeriscaping: Perennials and Annual Flowers: Use this list of perennial and annual flowers to create endless possibilities in your garden.
Brooklyn Queens Land Trust: Perennial Flowers: Follow this comprehensive gardening guide to planting perennials.
Growing Perennials: A comprehensive gardening guide to growing perennials, including general information on landscape use, soil preparation, planting, watering, and maintenance.
Starting Perennial Flowers From Seed Can Be A Challenge: Read this column to discover the easiest ways to seed perennial flowers.
Flower Beds: Perennials: Gardeners can use this guide to understand the basics of growing perennials in flower beds.
Introduction to Perennials: A general overview of perennial flowers and foliage plants with navigable sections providing further information on selecting, planting, and caring for them.
Gardening with Perennials in Florida: Use this comprehensive guide to grow perennial flowers in Florida.
Perennials: Full Sun to Part Shade: Fine Gardening provides a searchable database of full-sun and part-shade perennials.
Top 10 Easiest Perennials: HGTV shares the top ten perennials to plant and maintain.
Perennials for Specific Sites and Uses: Ohio State University categorizes perennials by their ideal landscape and uses.
Easier-to-Grow Perennial Flowers: A comprehensive list of perennial flowers for beginning gardeners.
Fall Perennial Gardens (PDF): Learn how to garden perennials during the fall.
Annual flowers complete their life cycle in one season. Gardeners plant seeds during the spring or early summer. Annual flowers blossom and grow through the summer months before dying in the fall. Unlike perennials, annuals do not regrow the following season. Many gardeners choose to plant annual flowers because they are relatively inexpensive. They are also easy to grow if planted correctly at the right site. Annuals also provide leeway for experimentation, since they last for only a single season. Annuals compliment perennials well, making them great to fill in empty spaces. Gardeners can literally choose from hundreds of species of annuals. Each of these species differ in their color, size, resistance, and other characteristics.
Growing Annual Flowers (PDF): A comprehensive guide to growing annual flowers with a charted list of the different types that thrive in certain environments.
The Best Annual Flowers: The Georgeson Botanical Garden shares the best annual flowers to grow based on a number of traits, including flower and foliage quantity, fragrance, frost tolerance, and disease and insect resistance.
Annual Flowers: A comprehensive guide to growing annual flowers.
Annuals for Utah Gardens: Learn about certain drought-resistant annual flowers suitable for Utah weather.
Flowering Annuals (PDF): An extensive document covering all of the basics for planting annual flowers.
When to Start Annual Flowers Indoors: A short explanation for starting annual flowers indoors.
Annual and Perennial Flowers for Year-Round Color (PDF): An extensive document that shares the best types of annual and perennial flowers that add color to any garden year - round.
Fun and Wacky Annuals: Use this list to reference fun and wacky annuals that will add color and variety in your garden.
Ten Best Annuals for Sun: Plant these ten annual flowers in areas with direct sunlight.
Recommended Annual Flowers (PDF): Use this extensive document to select the right annual flowers for your garden.
Quick Reference Guide for Easy Annual and Perennial Flowers (PDF): Use this guide to select, plant, and maintain annual and perennial flowers.
List of Annual Flowers That Need Full Sun: The San Francisco Chronicle provides a list of annual flowers that need direct sunlight.
Annual Flower Trial Garden's List of Winning Flowers: Consider adding these winning annual flowers to your garden.
Annual Flowers for Indoor Use: Plant these annual flowers indoors to add color to your home during the winter months.
Other Flower Guides and Resources
Wildflowers in Bloom: Annual, Perennial, Biennial?: A short overview of annual, perennial, and biennial flowers.
Annual and Perennial Flower Shade Gardening in Tennessee (PDF): An extensive document that shares techniques on growing annual and perennial flowers in shaded environments.
Annual and Perennial Flowers (PDF): A chapter overview of annual and perennial flowers that explain the different types of herbaceous ornamental plants used in gardening, ways to use perennial plants in garden design, and techniques for preparing and maintaining a flower garden.
Growing Edible Flowers in Your Garden: A gardening guide to growing edible flowers, including annuals and perennials.
Growing Vegetables, Herbs and Annual Flowers in Containers (PDF): Cornell University shares a comprehensive guide to growing vegetables, herbs, and annual flowers in containers.
Landscaping With Flowers (PDF): A basic overview of landscaping with all types of flowers.
Suggested Fertilizer Practices for Flowers (PDF): Use this guide to discover the suggested fertilizer practices for all types of flowers.
Techniques for Growing Outdoor Flowers (PDF): Read over this slide show to discover certain techniques for growing outdoor flowers.
Pruning Flowers and Other July Gardening Tips: The University of Vermont Extension shares some important tips on pruning annual, perennial, and biennial flowers.
Weed Management for Outdoor Cut Flowers: Use this guide to manage weeds in your flower garden.
Written By Ava Rose.