Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Annuals

Annuals 101

by National Gardening Association Editors

Although there are some annuals that produce foliage only, for most gardeners the word "annual" is synonymous with colorful garden flowers that bloom from early spring right up through the first fall frost. For the record, an annual is defined as a plant whose life cycle is complete in a year's time, sometimes slightly less. Most annuals are planted in the garden from seed or transplants in spring, flower throughout the warm months, and are then killed with the first frost in autumn.

To put it indelicately, home gardeners get "a lot of bang for their buck" with annuals. Sure, they are temporary, but what a temporary show they put on! Of all the types of plants available (trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, bulbs), annuals are usually the least expensive of the lot. And if you decide to grow them from seed (as opposed to already started plants), they're positively cheap.

The diversity within the group of plants known as annuals is staggering, with everything from 10-foot-tall sunflowers to the ground-hugging sweet alyssum to the rampant, vining morning glory. From landscape displays to containers and hanging baskets, there is truly an annual for every occasion and situation. And when it comes to cut flowers, it's hard to beat annuals for their sheer production and ease of growing.

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