UACES Facebook Annuals & Perennials in Arkansas Home Landscape
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Annuals and Perennials

White centered flower with purplish pink edges and green leaves.
Impatiens are an example of a summer annual for the shade.

What determines if a plant is called a perennial or an annual?

A plant that is sold as an annual is one that completes its life cycle in one season. Think of a impatien, marigold, or even a tomato plant. We plant them after all chances of frost have passed, then they grow during the warm months and die with a killing frost. These would be called warm season annuals—growing from start to finish basically from frost to frost, during the warmer months of the year. Pansies and violas, lettuce and radishes, would be considered cool season annuals, with planting dates either in the fall or late winter. They would die with the onset of hot weather.

butterfly weed with orange flowers
Butterfly weed is a sun perennial that blooms in the summer and attracts butterflies.

A perennial is a plant that lives for more than one year. Some perennials like daylilies, asparagus and hosta die back completely to the ground after a killing frost in the fall, and begin new growth in the spring. Other perennials like hellebores (Lenten rose), rosemary and lambs ear are evergreen, but live from year to year. Some perennials are very long lived like peonies and ferns, while others are relatively short lived like dianthus and foxglove.

Most perennials are non-woody. They have a season of dormancy, and a few are evergreen. They have a season of bloom, bloom length can vary from 2 weeks to 4 months.

Depending on where you live and the average low winter temperature, or high summer temperature will determine whether the plant is an annual, perennial or evergreen. Annuals are often used to give you instant color with bedding plants, or as seasonal vegetables, while perennials may bloom a shorter period of time, but don't have to be replanted every season.

Flower with white petals with dark pink tinge that has a yellowish colored center.
Hellebores are a good shade perennial that bloom in early to mid winter.


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