An Annual, a Biennial, and a Perennial Walk Into a Bar…

What are the differences between these three types of plants?

Photo by www.zanda. photography on Unsplash


An annual is a plant that has only one growing season before it dies. During the season it grows flowers, produces seeds, and dies. Popular annuals include marigolds, petunias, and zinnias.

A biennial is a plant that takes two years to complete its biological life cycle. The first year, vegetative growth develops. The second year it flowers and fruits. Examples of biennials are foxgloves, (some) carnations, and carrots.

Perennials are plants that are considered woody or herbaceous that live for more than two years and continue to grow after they have reproduced. Technically speaking, trees and shrubs are perennials. And so are roses, lavender, and asparagus.

When is a perennial no longer a perennial?

Depending on your growing zone, something may be considered an annual that in other parts of the world would be a perennial. For example an elephant ear plant is considered an annual in my area because we have cold winters, but in areas that don’t have frost (like Florida)they are considered perennials.

Don’t worry too much about a plants short life cycle. Annuals and biennials can self seed in your flower beds. This meanings the seeds will sow themselves and new plants will come up the following year.

Garden Centers are Tricking You

Garden centers make it easy for you to buy annuals. You want to know why? It’s so that you come back year after year and spend more. Instead, try to buy perennials. This means less spending and less work for you. Or you can spend the same amount on perennials and watch your garden expand each year.

Finally… the Joke:

An Annual, a Biennial, and a Perennial Walk Into a Bar…

The annual says “Wow this place is great, it’s my first time here!”

The biennial says “No, I’m pretty sure I saw you here last summer.”

The perennial says “For crying out loud guys, we do this every year!”



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