Annuals vs. Perennials: The Eternal Plant Debate

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the main event! In the left corner, we have annuals – vibrant show-offs who burst into the ring for just a short while. In the right corner, perennials – seasoned veterans who make a triumphant comeback year after year. Get your (gardening) gloves up because this is a matchup you won’t want to miss!

Hold the watering can! Despite the dramatic intro, this isn’t a fight between two champions. It’s more of a botanical bromance! Instead of annual VS. perennials, think annuals WITH perennials. If you want showstopping landscaping, plant both.

What is an Annual Plant?

An annual is a plant that completes its life cycle – germination, growth, flowering, seed production and death – within a single season. Once the frost comes, annuals typically die and do not come back the following season.

Benefits of Annual Plants

The brightest flower in a garden? Odds are it’s an annual! Annuals have showy and long-lasting blooms from spring to fall adding bright hits of color to both beds and planters. They continue to pop up flowers throughout the season requiring little to no maintenance. They tend to be smaller and don’t need much soil, so they can be planted in shallow areas. Maybe the best part? There’s no commitment! The following season you can plant something completely different.

Popular Types of Annual Plants

Looking for easy-to-plant, hardy and beautiful annuals? Here are some of our favorites that can be found readily at your local nursery each spring.


The pansy has one of the biggest ranges of color of any annual. The heart-shaped, overlapping blooms are very striking.


This annual is known for its prolific and colorful flowers. They come in pink, purples, red, orange and white and bloom well into late fall.


Marigolds are an easy annual for the first-time gardener. They are deer-resistant and add a splashy pop of orange and yellow to your beds and containers.


This annual is a delicate, airy plant that has daisy-like blooms. They can grow up to six feet tall and come in pink, orange, red and yellow, white or maroon.


This pollinator-attracting plant is fast-growing with brilliantly-colored blooms. They come in a huge array of colors and make for great cut flowers.

What is a Perennial Plant?

A perennial is a plant that has a life cycle of more than two years. It goes dormant in the winter and regrows back each spring from the same root system.

Benefits of Perennial Plants

Perennials are often more expensive up front, but can be thought of as an investment because you don’t have to plant them again in the spring. Perennial plants tend to be larger, so be mindful of the width and depth you have available to plant them. Since they are taller than most annuals, they add substance to your garden and create the backbone of your beds. There are also many varieties of shade-loving flowering perennials, unlike annuals.

Popular Types of Perennial Plants

Perennials do have a shorter flowering period than annuals (usually only two to six weeks). So when planning your garden, choose a variety of perennials that bloom during spring, summer and fall so you have rolling color throughout the growing season.

When picking out perennials, your nursery will be a great resource. If it’s blooming now, it will be blooming at the same time next year! Here are some of our favorites.

Virginia Bluebells

These bell-shaped flowering perennials ring in spring when they bloom as early as March. Virginia Bluebells are self-seeders, meaning they drop seeds at the end of the season for new growth in the next.


The bright, happy, daisy-like flowers on coreopsis add a rugged, wildflower look to your beds. They like full sun, are drought-tolerant and bloom in the summer months.


Also called echinacea, coneflowers are loved by butterflies, bees and songbirds. They bloom mid-summer and flower sporadically until the frost. Coneflower colors include pink, red, orange, white, yellow and purple (the most common).


Despite their name, daylilies are not true lilies because they grow from roots not a bulb. There are thousands of types to choose from so you can combine early, midseason and late blooming varieties for constant colors.


The shade-loving astilbe has feathery, flowering plumes and glossy, blue-green foliage. They add texture and color to your garden, are deer and rabbit resistant and bloom starting at the beginning of summer.

Annuals vs. Perennials: Which Should I Choose?

As you can see, we love both annuals and perennials and believe each has an important role to play in your landscaping. It’s all about understanding their life cycle and how they grow. Plant perennials towards the back and middle of your beds, and pop in some easy-to-reach annuals in the front so you can replace them easily in the spring. With a mix of showy, all season color and tried and true survivors, you can’t go wrong!