Annuals or Perennials: What to Plant

Blue and purple hydrangeas in full bloom.Spring is just around the corner; before we know it, all the snow will be melted, and it’ll be time to start tending to the gardens. Take a look around your yard: what are you growing this year? When you head to the nursery, your plant purchasing options come down to two primary categories: annuals or perennials. Today, we’re going to share the things you need to know about each prior to planting.

What’s the Difference Between Annuals and Perennials?  

The key difference between annuals and perennials is their lifecycle. Annuals are plants that flower all season long, but die off when the temperatures get too cold—typically when the frost sets in. Since they don’t grow back after that one season, they must be replanted every year. Some examples of annuals are pansies, marigolds, petunias, and geraniums. On the other hand, perennials are considered permanent or semi-permanent, as they grow back each year for two or more years. Unlike annuals, they don’t need to be replanted frequently. Some examples of perennials are daisies, hydrangeas, hostas, and daylilies. 

Weighing the Pros and Cons: Annuals or Perennials 

Consider these benefits and drawbacks of each and how they fit in with what you’re trying to achieve in your garden and overall landscape.  

Vibrant, colorful blooms all season long  Short lifecycle 
Typically bloom longer than perennials  Need replanting each year 
Allow you to experiment/start fresh each year  More maintenance 
Less expensive than perennials  More expensive over time 
Long lifecycle/come back each year  Don’t bloom as long as annuals 
Less maintenance, especially if native to the area  Still some upkeep required at season’s end  
Less expensive over time, higher ROI  Typically more expensive than annuals 

Annuals or Perennials: Our Suggestion 

As professional landscapers, we tend to use perennials more than annuals. Although they’re a higher cost upfront, our clients understand this initial investment pays off over time and allows them to take a more hands-off approach to gardening. Of course, the decision depends on everyone’s unique preferences! Many people choose to use a mix of both annuals and perennials in their yard, striking a happy medium on cost and maintenance while benefiting from a variety of flowers and bloom lengths. A popular approach: put perennials in the ground where they hold up against New England winters and put annuals in pots or hangers on your front porch. 

Need support with seasonal yard cleanup and other landscape maintenance? We’re happy to help! With more than 30 years of professional landscaping experience, our team of experts will have your gardens looking healthy and beautiful in no time! Contact us today to get started before the busy season kicks in.