Before the temperatures start to rise this Spring and you begin to brainstorm your dream garden plan, think about the types of plants you would like to utilize in your landscape and the lifespan of the plant throughout the seasons. One major difference between annuals and perennials is that annuals can grow in most climates, while perennials only grow certain U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones, depending on the plant. Other differences between the two types of plants include longevity and care.
An annual is a plant that lives for just one planting season. Regardless if you plant from seed or purchase seedlings to plant, an annual will sprout, flower, seed, and then die – all within the same year.
Annuals typically bloom throughout the season and provide vibrant bursts of color. While you get a nice visual impact from Annuals, you will have to replant next year. However, on a positive note, annual plants tend to be cheaper than perennials and are less of a commitment.
Caring For Annuals: Annuals require moist, but not soggy soils after planting or sowing and water-soluble fertilizer. While Delmarva has somewhat mild winters, it is recommended that you feed the annuals after blooming begins. To encourage continuous blooming it is recommended that you pinch or cut off blooms that are no longer thriving, otherwise known as deadheading.
Popular annuals include: Zinnias, Marigolds, Impatiens, Celosia, Lantana, & Verbena.
Typical Lifespan of Annuals: One Year/Season
Perennials typically live for multiple growing seasons, three or more on average. When planting perennials they can start from bulb or seed. For plants that bloom in the spring, bulbs typically must be planted in the Fall in order to get the full blooming effect. However, for immediate garden-gratification you can purchase young plants at a nursery to plant in the spring. Since Perennials can have a shorter blooming period than annuals, gardeners will pair them with perennials that bloom at other times to maintain constant color throughout seasons.
Caring for Perennials: Perennials can require moist or dry soil, depending on the plant type, but young perennials usually need an abundance of moisture to help establish a viable root system. Unlike annuals, established perennials only require feeding once year either in early spring or late winter. To retain soil moisture and temperature for the plants it is recommended that you mulch the surrounding areas.
Popular Perennials Include: Iris, Roses, Salvia, Peonies, Mum, Black-Eyed Susan, Hosta, & Daylillies
Typical Lifespan of Perennials: 2+ Years