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Home » Landscape Designer » The Difference Between Annuals and Perennials

The Difference Between Annuals and Perennials

Difference Between Annuals and Perennials

When designing how you want your garden to look and choosing which plants you are going to plant, it’s important to think in terms of “temporal” as well as “spatial.” What does this mean? Essentially, it means recognizing that different plants and flowers look different at different times of the year. When you understand the difference between annuals and perennials well, you can time your plants to appear throughout the year in combinations that are attractive to the eye. Your garden will look slightly different every month you look outside, like a perfectly orchestrated fireworks display!

The Difference Between Annuals and Perennials

This is almost like a dance – like plant choreography – and to get it right, you need to understand the different types of plants and what the differences mean. In particular, that means understanding the difference between annuals and perennials. Let’s take a look at what this means.


Perennial flowers are characterized in a way that could easily make them well suited to the name “annual.” This can be a source of confusion!

That’s because perennial flowers are flowers that bloom for a short period of time, once a year.
You will plant your perennial flowers once a year. From that point on they will keep returning at a set point during the year in order to bring a particular splash of color to your garden!

The term perennial specifically refers to green plants however or herbaceous plants. That’s because trees are always perennial! Think about it. A tree will always look green in summer, lose its leaves in winter, and then come back again in spring. The same thing happens with many plants, and this is what we refer to as perennials.


Annuals meanwhile are plants that have a one-year life cycle. That means that they will likewise show their colors just once, then die.

So does that mean that you need to constantly plant annuals at the start of their lifecycle? The answer is often yet but not always. That’s because in many cases, the annuals will drop seeds which will then grow on their own. Annuals tend to be a little more colorful, but also involve more work.

Choosing the Right Plants for Every Situation

So how do you know what the right type of plant is for your garden and how do you go about choosing them in each case?

Perennials are a fantastic choice in many cases because they ensure you always have something to show throughout the year. Perennial plants also often include plants that do look good in colder months. By using perennials you can, therefore, ensure that your garden doesn’t look like a Halloween scene as soon as summer is over! You’ll always have some lush green foliage. And of course, some perennials do also provide a little color with some attractive flowers and other points of interest.

What’s more, is that because perennials are so hardy and keep coming back, you won’t need to keep planting them. If for whatever reason you find yourself unable to do much gardening next year, your perennials will still come back the following winter ensuring your garden has something attractive to look at!

Meanwhile, annual flowers offer no such guarantee. Very often, you’ll need to plant these all in spring. But what that means, is that your garden will have a unique look every year and you can have fun spending time crafting a really beautiful space.

Moreover, annuals are often more colorful. And just like perennials, you can choose a great selection to ensure that your garden will look colorful and interesting at every time of year.
Likewise, perennials work very well for providing a green backdrop and for filling out your flower beds, whereas your colorful annuals can stand out and look really stunning in front.

It’s all about orchestrating the perfect balance, thinking about which plants come into effect when and how they will look together. By choosing annuals and perennials at different points in the garden, you can do this perfectly and have a lot of fun doing it!

So now you know the difference between annuals and perennials!

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