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What’s The Difference Between Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials?

What’s The Difference Between Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials?

Forget-Me-Nots are biennials, photo via

I’ve noticed that most people have certain ways they choose flowers for their gardens. Some look for fragrant flowers or blooms in their favorite colors. Other people select flowers that are known to attract butterflies. There are also people who select flowers based on their life cycle: When will they bloom and for how long? This week, I thought I’d share a little information about annuals, biennials, and perennials. Enjoy!


The life span of an annual is one year. A seed planted in the spring or summer blooms and then dies at the beginning of winter. Some examples of annuals include bachelor’s button, begonias, Gerbera daisies, impatiens, and zinnias. One of the benefits of planting annuals is that they bloom for a longer period than biennials. Plus, they produce more flowers than biennials. This is why I plant annuals in my window boxes. The colorful petals of my pink and purple petunias really dress up my view! Annuals thrive in gardens and containers as well as window boxes. If you’re selling your home or trying to rent out an apartment in the summer or fall, you may want to plant annuals to add even more appeal to the landscape.


Biennials have a life cycle that lasts for two years. It’s easiest to think of a biennial’s life cycle in two stages. In the spring of the first stage, a seed germinates and a plant begins to grow. When winter arrives, the top foliage of a biennial wilts and the plant goes dormant without flowering. The plant begins growing again and flowers the following spring. A biennial dies after flowering in the second part of its life cycle. Many people plant biennials because they require less work than annuals due to their longer life cycle. Forget-me-nots, foxglove, Canterbury bells, and hollyhock are all examples of biennials. Planting biennials near a fence or around the base of a mailbox post allows people to enjoy them as they take their sweet time growing.


Perennials grow from two years to five years and sometimes beyond. They can easily become the most attractive longtime residents in your garden or yard! They also look lovely in a large pot on a patio or front porch. The seed of a perennial germinates, and then the plant grows, flowers, and then goes dormant. This cycle repeats itself over and over. The greatest benefit of planting perennials is you get to enjoy these flowers each spring and summer without much maintenance. Some examples of perennials include asters, purple coneflowers, daffodils, black-eyed Susans, and daylilies.

Can a Flower Belong to Two Categories?

The answer to this question is yes. The location and climate a flower lives in can determine which category it falls into. For example, in the south, a black-eyed Susan would be considered an annual because of the warm climate and long growing season. But in the cooler temperatures and shorter growing season of the north, a black-eyed Susan is categorized as a perennial.

I think flowers are as interesting as they are beautiful: Don’t you?

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