Is it an Annual or a Perennial?

One of the most joyous parts of gardening is planting COLOR! Unique, pretty, fragrant and COLORful flowers.  Now you probably know, or remember, that we generally categorize flowers into two different categories. Can you guess the two categories?  The first one is pretty easy, “Annuals,” and the second one, what is it again?  “Perennial!”

If you’re not completely sure on the difference between the two, let’s clear the air for you.

An annual plant can be started from seeds or by transplants, and its defining characteristic is that it lives its complete life cycle within one season, or possibly up to a year, and then dies.
An annual flower spends most of its energy producing flower and seeds for the purpose of reproduction.  Hence why annual plants provide us with such striking and bold color in the garden.  Depending on the type of plant, annuals can grow in full sun areas, full shade areas, in cold winter weather, and hot summer weather. So when selecting annual plants for Southeast Louisiana, make sure that you are choosing the right plant for the right location and for the right season.

A true perennial plant is one that completes its life cycle within a season, and goes through a period of dormancy where it stores energy in its roots, underground, to be able to produce foliage and flowers in the next season. In the simplest of terms, a perennial plant will “come back each year.” Similar to annuals, different perennials will perform better in different locations. Here in the Lafayette area, with our lack of cold temperatures and abundant rain through the winter, be sure to plant your perennials in a well-drained flower bed.  If the bed holds water, or receives too much water through the winter months, there is a high chance that the roots of the plant will rot through the winter months when it is dormant.

Now that we are all clear on the difference between annual and perennial plants, we know that the thought of having ALL perennial plants that will ALWAYS come back year after year sounds amazing, but it is important to be realistic when planning out your flower beds. The MOST colorful, full and beautiful flower beds are not commonly filled with exclusively perennials.  While several perennial plants provide beautiful color during their blooming period, annuals plants will almost always have more color for a longer period of time.  So don’t be discouraged when you begin to shop for your flowers and find that all of the pretty colorful ones that you like the most are annuals.

Be open to mixing annuals and perennials together, and be open to having to replant some annuals once or twice a year.

Learn more about combining Annuals & Perennials in your flowerbeds here.