Cathy’s Guide to Gardening: Annuals vs. Perennials

Cathy’s Guide to Gardening: Annuals vs. Perennials

Written by Cathy Isfahani

Homeowners often wonder whether it is better to plant annuals or perennials to develop color in their landscape. The answer is both! Planting an array of annuals and perennials adds color and variety to your gardens that last season after season.

An annual is a plant that lives for only one season. Although replacing annuals at the end of each season adds maintenance to your garden, the reward is a rainbow of vibrant colors while these plants bloom. Annual plants usually last three to six months, and require replacement two to three times a year.

When using annuals, plan your landscape to include several spots where you want consistent color and don’t mind replanting each season. These sites can be garden beds or planters. Popular places for annuals include framing a front entryway, highlighting a driveway or mailbox, or enclosing a cozy outdoor living space. Prepare your gardens for annuals with 2 to 3 inches of compost, peat or topsoil. If you choose, you can add fertilizer. Mix approximately the first six inches of soil before planting.

In our area, look for warm-weather annuals such as begonias, coleus, gerbera daisies, impatiens, melampodiums, salvias, tornias, vincas and zinnias.

Perennials are plants, shrubs, and trees that last indefinitely; The flowers can survive at least three growing seasons in Northeast Florida. Many perennials turn brown and appear to die in the winter, but will grow back from the roots. Simply prune the dead stems and wait for them to reappear. Although perennials require less maintenance because they do not need to be replaced, they do not produce the dramatic color of annuals.

Consider planning your landscape with at least 90% perennials to balance showy color with less replacement cost and effort.

When choosing perennials to add to your landscape, look for African iris, agapanthus, blue daze, daisy, foxglove fern, Gaillardia, gardenia, gazania, golden corenta, hydrangea, drift/drift roses, lantana, loropetalum, mandevilla, and… Muhly. Pentas, portulaca and potato vine.

Happy farming!

Flower of the week: platform

Please email Kathy at if you have any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information and ideas, visit Cathy’s Creative Gardens and Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.

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