Make Your Garden Blossom To Life: The Ultimate Guide To Annual And Perennial Flowers

different flowers

For those of you who live in a winter wonderland, there is nothing more exciting than watching the first buds of spring come to life. A small bit of green after a sea of white provides the greatest shred of hope that warmth and sunshine are heading your way.

One of the highlighting features of the warmer months is the beautiful array of colors created by blossoming flowers. From the first breath of spring, flowers of all color, shape, and smell begin to come to life, providing a renewed sense of elegance to the world around you.

As much as we adore flowers and love to add new additions to our gardens each year, how much do you really know about them? Why do some of them come back every year while others fade away after only a few months?

The truth lies behind the definition of two simple words: annuals and perennials.

illustrious garden with red flowers under the sun
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Image: by Magnus D'Great M, via Pexels

If you have ever ventured into a nursery before, you have probably seen those two words before. But have you ever stopped to ask what they were or how they affected the plants you purchased?

If you’re thinking, “Shoot. No, I never did,” don’t fret. We have got you covered. Not only will we help you understand just what those two types of flowers mean, but we will set you down the right path to properly care for those flowers year after year.

Get ready to green up that thumb of yours because it’s flower time.

An Annual Affair

marigold flower
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Marig​old

Image:  CC BY-SA 4.0, BY Bijay Chaurasia, via Wikimedia

When you hear the word “annual” you often think of something that happens year after year. However, when it comes to flowers, the exact opposite is true.

Annual flowers only live for a single growing season and will die come winter. You will have to purchase new annual flowers each year if you want to continue having them in your garden.

Why do they do that? They actually have a genetic trait that makes them utilize all their energy into creating flowers. Because all its energy has been used up, after it drops its seeds it dies.

Thus, the beautiful annual flowers become fleeting beauties. But don’t worry, you can pick up more marigolds next spring.

Persistent Perennial Plants

purple coneflower
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Purple Coneflower

Image: CC BY-SA 4.0by Ronincmc, via Wikimedia

When you want to think about perennials, think about the planting a bulb into the soil. The small bundle of plant buries its roots deep into the ground and is able to sprout out gorgeous flowers, like tulips.

When the cold months come around, their blossoms begin to wilts and all their energy goes back down into that bulb once more. That way, when spring returns, they can sprout back up once more.

Perennials are not immune to all types of climate situations, but they do have the ability to respawn every year. This allows you to have consistent and reliable plants in your garden that you know you will not have to replace.

Many perennials are actually large plants that will take up more space, allowing you to fill out your garden.

Let’s Sort This Out

So annuals die and perennials live? Is that all there is to it? Not quite.

There are a lot of differences between the two plants, some of which are positive, others negative. To clear up any confusion you may have, take a look at this simple guide.

Annual and Perennial simple guide
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Battle Of The Plants: Annuals vs. Perennials

Annual versus Perennial illustration
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So who’s better? The annuals or the perennials?Neither. Rather than pitting them against each other, think about including them with each other.

Perennials are generally larger and can cover more area in your garden. Their inherent nature to come back year after year allows them to keep a large section of your area filled with beautiful foliage, without breaking the bank.

Annuals may be smaller, but they continuously pump out bud after bud. They know they’re only going to be around for a few months, so they product countless flowers that can brighten up your space with their gorgeous colors. Plus, they can be small enough to line edges, fill in gaps, and sit inside decorative pots.

Still don’t believe us? Then let Ahmed Hassan show you first hand.

What Do I Pick?

Knowing what these plants do is all fine and dandy, but what really matters is which ones you are going to put in your yard.

There are hundreds of varieties of flowers out there for both annuals and perennials. How do you decide which ones to get?

For beginners, or those just looking to find something new for their garden, we have created a simple guide of the top annual and perennial flowers for this upcoming season. Learn what they look like, how tall they grow, and what beautiful colors that blossom in.

ANNUAL

Geranium

A classic annual flower is the geranium. These delicate flowers sprout up in a large cluster, all on a single stem. They are generally quite tall and come in a number of different varieties.

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  • SIZE:

9”-30” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun or partial shade

Geranium Brutiu, Image: CCBY-SA 3.0, by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, via Wikimedia

Begonia

Begonias are small, often considered dainty, flowers that can grow in a single plant or on a large shrub. They are super adaptable and easy to maintain, making them a great choice for those who live in an unpredictable environment. Plus, their rosy petals are so adorable, who could pass them up?

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  • SIZE:

8”-15” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Can grow in full sun, full shade, or partial shade

Begonia Grandis, Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by Alpsdakevia Wikimedia

Impatiens

You will never feel impatient again with these gorgeous flowers. They are great for potting or for those new to gardening as they do not require a ton of sunlight to flourish. If you’re from the United Kingdom or ever purchase from someone from there, they may refer to impatiens as “busy lizzies.

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  • SIZE:

3”-6’ tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires either full shade or partial shade

Impatiens glandulifera, Image: CC BY-SA 2.5, BY Andre Karwath, via Wikimedia

Petunias

One of the most affordable annual flowers at every nursery are the ever colorful petunias. These flowers grow and grow until they simply cannot grow anymore. They are terrific for pots, garden, and hanging baskets.

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  • SIZE:

6”-24” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Blue Wild Petunia, Image: CCBY-SA 3.0, by Jonathan Zander, via Wikimedia

Celosia

For a flower with the strength of a thousand warriors, consider the celosia. Okay, maybe they’re not that strong but they are resilient flowers with tough petals. These vibrant beauties help to brighten up any pathway or flower bed.

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  • SIZE:

6”-36” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun or partial shade

Red Celosia cristata flower, Image: CC BY-SA 4.0by Sara Nabih, via Wikimedia

Pansies

When thinking about annual flowers, many people often refer back to the elegant pansy. They are quite small and can easily be placed into empty space in your yard. Their soft petals and simple design allows them to pair well with a multitude of other plants, including both annuals and perennials.

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  • SIZE:

6”-9” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Viola Tricolor Pansy Flower, Image: Public Domain, by Photos Pu​​blic Domain, via Wikimedia

Primrose

Besides being the name of a popular Hunger Games character, primrose is a beautiful flower with an abundance of tiny petals and buds. They actually bloom most frequently in late winter and can help to brighten up dark wintery nights.

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  • SIZE:

9”-18” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires partial shade

Common Evening Primrose, Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by Christian Ferrer, via Wikimedia.org

Ranunculuses

Ranunculuses start out as small, closed off buds but soon burst to life with a vibrant array of petals and color. These flowers are very fragrant and can easily be grown in your yard. You can then cut a few of them off at the stem and have a beautifully vased centerpiece on your table.

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  • SIZE:

12”-24” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Ranunculus Glacialis, Image: CC BY-SA 3.0, by Hans Hillewaert, via Wikimedia

Snapdragon

For something with a bit more height, consider adding snapdragons to your yard. Although its name is vicious, these flowers are nothing but dainty bursts of color. The plant itself grows upward, with flowers blooming along the side, which makes for a unique and exciting addition to any landscape.

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  • SIZE:

12” to 42” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Summer Snapdragon, Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by i_am_jim, via Wikimedia

Cosmos

On their own, they can be hard to see, but in a group, they become breathtaking. We’re of course talking about cosmos. The flowers grow up to be tall but have incredibly thin stems that can sometimes make them hard to see when separated from the group. Once they come into full bloom alongside their companions, these flower create a blanket of color like no other.

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  • SIZE:

18”-60” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Cosmos in a garden, Image: CC BY-SA 3.0, by JLPC, via Wikimedia

PERENNIALS

Pineapple Sage

Some flowers are known for their looks, others for their smell. The pineapple sage creates a similar odor to that of a pineapple, hence the name. They grow thin, leafy stems that burst up to four feet high with vibrantly red flowers adorning the top.

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  • SIZE:

36”-48” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Pineapple Sage Flowers at Hawea Pl Olinda, Maui, Hawaii, Image: CC BY 3.0, by Forest & Kim Starr, via Wikimedia

Aster

The latin word for star, aster, perfectly depicts the image of these perennial flowers. With a series of thin petals adoring the floral disc look as though they are an exploding star. Their bright colors radiate beauty all day long and can stay in bloom for a great deal of the warmer months.

  • COLOR:






  • SIZE:

3”-48” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires either full sun or partial shade

Aster komonoensis in Mount Gozaisho, Komono, Mie prefecture, Japan, Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by Alpsdake, via Wikimedia

Black-Eyed Susan

If you want a sea of color to quickly and beautifully liven up your space, you should be sure to plant some black-eyed susans. These flowers are quite low maintenance, making them a terrific choice for those without a ton of gardening experience. They are also great for cutting and placing inside a vase in your home.

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  • SIZE:

12”-24” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires either full or partial sun

 Black-Eyed Susan Image Image: CC BY 2.0, by Jason Hollinger, via Wikimedia

Peony

Looking for flowers that will last you for generations to come? Then you definitely need to bring some peonies to your yard. These gorgeous beauties can bloom again and again for over 100 years. They have an elegant array of petals and make great bouquets for your loved ones.

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  • SIZE:

12”-8’ tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Itoh intersectional hybrid Peony Image: CC BY-SA 4, by Derek Ramseyvia Wikimedia.org

Yarrow

Originally a wildflower, the yarrow is a wonderful way to incorporate large bundles of color. Their peak blooming time is in mid-summer, where they show off a multitude of miniature blossoms all clustered together on a single unit.

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  • SIZE:

18”-36” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Western Yarrow flower head, Kansas. Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by Art Davis, via Wikimedia.org

Shasta Daisy

The shasta daisy grows in a large clump of cuteness, typically blooming in early spring. They are actually able to rebloom, provided you cut them back soon enough, to provide another boust of beauty in the fall. Their simple appearance and tall frame make them great fill-ins for large walkways or gardens.

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  • SIZE:

24”-36” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires either full sun or partial shade

Daffodils

Snag a package of daffodil bulbs at your local nursery in order to turn your yard into a peaceful paradise. These recognizable beauties help remind us that spring has arrived with with their voluminous petals and cup-like center. They are easy to maintain, beautiful to look at, and are affordable options for people of any budget to enjoy.

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  • SIZE:

12”-18” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires full sun

Daffodils flower, Armenia. Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by Beko, via Wikimedia

Mums

Mums, which is a condensed version of the name “chrysanthemums”, brings another great source of color to your garden. They often give off the appearance of overgrown marigolds, but have a much stronger and more elegant set of petals. These flowers generally sit a bit lower to the ground and can provide a nice level of color to surround other perennials with.

  • COLOR:







  • SIZE:

12”-36” tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires either full sun or partial shade

Purple mums Image: by Free-Photos, via Pixabay

Bellflowers

Even though you won’t be able to ring these bells, they will look beautiful surrounding your home. They have a unique bell-like shape as they grow downwards from atop a tall stem. They bloom for quite some time and come in luxurious shades of pink, white, and blue.

  • COLOR:




  • SIZE:

3”-4’ tall

  • ENVIRONMENT:

Requires either full sun or partial shade

Bellflower with morning dew image: CC BY-SA 3.0, by Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany via Wikimedia

Taking Care Of Business

You’ve learned all about the different types of flowers, picked out the perfect ones for your home, and have planted them in the ground. There’s only one more thing to understand: how to keep them alive.

Taking care of flowers can actually take a lot more work than simply watering them every once and awhile. That is, if you want them to bloom to their full capacity. With a few simple tips, you can have the strongest and healthiest looking flowers on the block.

Annual Advice

Since you have to buy annuals every year, you want to make sure you are getting the most bloom for your buck. By taking care of your plants properly, you can ensure that they live for as long as possible, continuing to produce flowers for months on end.

Don’t wait! Plant them now. Consider how long those plants have already been living inside the plastic containers you bought them in. If the plant is healthy, they will likely outgrow the confines of that plastic container.

Be sure to get them into the ground as soon as you possibly can. That way they can spread out their roots, become accustomed to their new environment, and start blossoming sooner rather than later.

Also make sure to water them right after you plant them. Actually, water them all the time. While their roots can expand, they are not going to grow very deep. This means the only water they are going to get is the water right near the top of the soil.

Annuals also love to chow down on some delicious nutrients, so be sure to plant them in soil rich with flower food. Either bulk up their soil, spray them with a fertilizer, or both. Just like you, plants get hungry too.

Deadheading, or removing the faded flowers from the plant, is also a great tip. This is not entirely necessary, but it will help to keep your plant continuously blossoming.

Project Perennials

Perennials are far more durable than their annual counterparts, as they are rooted deeper in the soil, but there are still a lot of things that could potentially go wrong. Maintenance is key to ensuring that your flowers bloom year after year.

Nobody likes the look of weeds in their garden, but your plants especially do not like weeds. They suck up all the water and nutrients that your plants need, making it harder for them to survive. Pull weeds regularly and keep your plants safe from intruders.

Be sure to water and feed them just as much as your annuals. Even though they are bigger, they need to eat and drink too. Invest in a solid fertilizer and regularly give them a boost of nutrients.

At the end of the growing season, when the plant is ready to hibernate for the winter before blooming in the spring, you need to cut back the excess parts of your plants. Ideally, you want to cut them down to be about 10 inches off the ground, but that length may vary depending on the plant.

Although this may seem like an odd task, it helps to reduce the amount of energy your plant is using in its dormant phase. By cutting them back, you can help your flowers spring to life faster and more fully when springtime rolls around.

Plant Like The Pros: Usings Annuals And Perennials To Your Full Advantage

Gardening and landscaping does not have to be a complicated process. There is truly no right or wrong way to lay out your plants. You see your yard more than anyone else; you decide what looks good, not your neighbors. Before you know it, you’ll master your space and create gorgeous looks, just like the pros.

So get creative! Annual flowers will only be around for a season, so if you end up not liking them, you know what not to by the following year. And if you take a bit of time to spy on neighboring yards, you’ll learn exactly what type of perennials will flourish in your neighborhood.

Your thumb has been thoroughly greened by your newfound knowledge. Now get that thumb in the dirt and start planting.

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