Whether you’re looking to refresh your landscaping or considering landscaping for the first time, no doubt you’ll start coming across terms you may or may not be familiar with. While descriptions like “full shade” or “full sun” may be easy enough to infer their meaning, what is the difference between annuals and perennials? These terms refer to the overall life cycles of plants and flowers in your garden.
Today, we’re answering the question, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” as well as taking a closer look at characteristics of each that you should know when choosing flowers for your landscaping.
The Major Difference Between Annuals and Perennials
The first question that comes to many homeowners’ minds when they start considering flowers and plants for their landscaping services is, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” If you’ve been wondering this question, you’re not alone! While flowering plants all share the same basic steps of a life cycle, the fundamental differences between annuals and perennials lies in how many growing seasons they take to complete that cycle.
The simplest answer to the question, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” is that annuals will complete their life cycle in one growing season whereas perennials will come back for growing seasons across multiple years (typically at least 3). This doesn’t mean that annuals or perennials hold the clear advantage, however. There are other differences between the two that affect how they will fill out your landscaping.
Whether you’re figuring out how to landscape the front of your house or considering backyard flower garden ideas, it’s important to know which flowers will thrive best in your area as well as take into consideration life cycles, bloom periods, colors, maintenance, and more.
Annuals vs Perennials: What to Know
As we said, discussing their life cycles may be the biggest answer to the question, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” but it’s not the only difference you need to know. From blooming seasons to long-term landscape design plans, here are a few things to note as you learn about annuals vs perennials:
- Perennials aren’t immortal
- Annuals bloom longer but only for a single growing year
- Perennials tend to cost a little more
- You may be able to divide perennials as they grow
- Local perennials tend to be lower maintenance
Perennials Aren’t Immortal
Where annuals complete their life cycle in a singular growing season, perennials don’t live forever. A common misconception when it comes to DIY landscape design that hurts curb appeal or leaves potential holes in your landscaping is that perennials will continue to come back year after year forever. While they do typically come back for at least 3 years, know that you’ll still need to replace them eventually.
Annuals Bloom Longer Than Perennials
Another factor to consider as you learn answers to the question, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” is that annuals tend to have longer bloom periods than their perennials counterparts. Some may bloom all summer long (especially if you practice deadheading, or removing dried blooms) while others may even bloom from spring until the first frost!
Perennials, on the other hand, tend to bloom for a singular season. The advantage here, however, is that they will come back for multiple years so long as they’re taken care of.
When you’re debating on which plants to choose for your garden, consider a mix of annuals and perennials. This not only gives you a wider variety of plant types, but also ensures you’ll have beautiful blooms throughout the year, keeping your home looking amazing.
Perennials Cost More
We can’t fully explore the question, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” if we don’t discuss how much each costs. While the pricing may not be majorly prohibitive, it is worth noting that oftentimes perennials tend to cost a little more than annuals. When it comes down to it, this makes sense as you’re getting a longer investment from perennials that come back for 3 to 5 years versus annuals that will need to be replaced year after year.
Bonus Tip: It’s also worth mentioning the savings in labor for perennials. While the initial cost for these types of flowers and plants may be higher, their longevity and not having to replace them each year can be a prime factor for homeowners seeking low-maintenance lawn ideas.
Dividing Perennials As They Grow
When it comes to answering the question, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” it’s also worth noting that perennials may be divided as they grow, giving you the opportunity to fill out your garden even more without having to purchase new ones! Some perennials also need to be divided as they continue to grow in order to keep them healthy. Dividing helps control the plant size and keeps your garden from becoming overcrowded.
Local Perennials Are Lower Maintenance
Speaking of plant maintenance, next up on our journey to answer the question, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” is the amount of upkeep they require. While there are plenty of minimalist front yard landscaping ideas or backyard makeover designs that require little upkeep, local perennials tend to be the easiest to maintain once they’ve taken root in your garden. Choosing the right plants for your region can also help attract pollinators to your landscaping, increasing the biodiversity of your yard and making it a little sanctuary for you and some beautiful wildlife!
We hope this guide answered the question, “what is the difference between annuals and perennials?” as well as offered some tips and ideas to try for your own landscaping! The most important part of any new landscaping project is to have a plan. Start by heading over to the NVS Project Planner to plan and budget your next landscaping design. Save the plans or submit them to us and our team of the best landscape professionals in Albany, Colonie, Saratoga, and surrounding areas will be in touch to get started!
Looking for more tips for landscaping your home? Check out these resources for more ideas and inspiration: