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Home » Annual Versus Perennial: What’s the Difference?

Annual Versus Perennial: What’s the Difference?

Stepping into a fragrant, sun-filled garden can transport you to another world. The personal sense of achievement you feel when your flowers reach bloom can be incredible, particularly when you have designed your garden to perfectly coordinate the bloom times, colours and shapes to fit your style. 

One key factor that contributes to deciding what plants to use in your garden is whether they are annuals or perennials. The differences are in their life cycles, and understanding them can help you utilise your gardening budget to create stunning seasonal displays.

Understanding the Difference Between an Annual and a Perennial

When it comes to annual plants versus perennials, the difference is the length of their life cycle. While some types of annuals may self-sow, all annuals complete a full life cycle within one growing season. In contrast, a perennial lives on for three years or longer. 

Annual Flowers vs Perennial Flowers

Due to their short life cycle, annual flowers will try to spread as much seed as possible in one season. They may flower nearly constantly to achieve this, providing stunning, season-long colour to your garden. 

In contrast to their short-lived counterparts, perennials may go in and out of bloom during the season but do not need to be replaced annually.

What are Biennials?

Biennial plants are between annuals and perennials in terms of life cycle. This term describes a plant that grows for two seasons, typically blooming in the second year. These plants are sometimes harvested yearly, making them similar to annuals. Various vegetables, such as carrots, are best harvested during their first year, before the plant can flower in its second year. 

When Perennials Act Like Annuals

A perennial plant can act like an annual in certain climates. For example, tomatoes are perennial plants in their native climate but cannot survive colder winters. It is therefore important to consider your climate hardiness zone when deciding what to plant.

Annual Plant vs Perennial: Which to Grow

To create a beautiful, harmonious yard year-round, you should consider the relationship between the plant, climate and garden. These factors can help you determine the advantages of planting annual plants versus perennials in your garden.

Advantages of Annuals

Annual plants, quick growing and bright, can provide instant self-gratification. Due to their short life span, they are best planted in high-profile garden spots where their beauty can be admired.

Speed of Growth

The short life cycle of an annual means that you can try different colour combinations in your garden quickly. They also mature faster than their counterparts and are the perfect solution if you want a lot of breath-taking blooms.

Longer Bloom Period

Annuals typically put all of their energy into developing flowers, and they will often continue to bloom all season. With Garden Express’ outstanding annuals, such as marigolds, your garden will see blooms right into autumn.

Repeated Fruiting

Annuals, like cucumber and zucchini, may bear fruit repeatedly during one season. Garden Express has great options for annual vegetable seeds that may fruit multiple times during their short life.

Advantages of Perennials

Perennials provide a sense of continuity in your garden with their longer life cycles. Though their blooming period may not be as frequent, their foliage can be beautiful and act as a solid foundation to create a spectacular garden. Garden Express has a large variety of both winter and summer-flowering perennials to brighten your garden year-round.

Low Maintenance

Many perennials require very little attention after being planted. That means they can be left as they are while you tend to the rest of the garden, but they may benefit from pruning during autumn. Due to their hardiness, perennials can also be a great drought-resistant choice. 

Long Lifecycle

With their longer life cycles, the transformations your perennials undergo during the year can create a natural, seasonal effect. 

As they flower throughout the seasons, many perennial flowers are perfect to be cut. These can be placed in a vase to brighten your home as annual decorations. Garden Express offers a variety of perennial roses that can have a long lifespan in the garden.


Perennials are one way to attract pollinators to your garden, without needing to be replanted every year like an annual. 

Combinations In Your Garden

It can be helpful to consider combining annual and perennial flowers in your garden and planting flowers with staggered bloom times. This will ensure you have colourful blooms year-round. 

For perennials that may not flower all season, you can fill in the gaps left behind with annuals.

Start Your Dream Garden Today

Taking the life cycle of a plant into consideration while planning your garden will often yield the best results. Whether you’re looking for a rare bulb or colourful perennials, Garden Express is committed to providing a broad variety of options for your garden. Browse our extensive collection online to begin planning for the coming season today.

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