What’s the Difference Between Annuals and Perennials?

Nothing enhances the beauty of a home more than a lush, gorgeous garden, but choosing the perfect plants can seem intimidating. It’s not just as easy as picking out something pretty and hoping it will grow. Luckily, the horticulturists at Feeney’s are here to take all the guesswork out of creating a beautiful flower bed.
Image of rows of flowers for sale at Feeney's in Feasterville, PA

Annuals and Perennials are two different groups of flowering plants with their own benefits and drawbacks. In order to decide between them, a would-be gardener should first understand the difference between annuals and perennials.


A perennial is a plant that will live 3 or more years. Most all herbaceous perennials will die back to the ground, but the roots remain intact and the plants then regrow the next Spring. Perennial plants come in a huge range of flower and foliage colors, heights and shapes, giving you an endless opportunity to express your creativity. And because different perennials bloom at different times, you can create a dynamic garden that changes with the seasons. A combination of annuals and perennials may result in the longest period of blossoms with a revolving array of colors. Here are some favorites:

– Coneflowers
– Peonies
– Chrysanthemums
– Black-eyed Susan
– Daylilies
– Coreopsis
– Hostas


Annuals only last for one season, but they usually have a dramatic impact. Most have bright, showy flowers that last all summer, which is why they are so popular. Although they require a yearly time investment, annuals are good for a gardener who may not want to commit to the same look year after year. In addition, annuals are usually less expensive than perennials. Some of the most popular annuals are:
– Zinnias
– Impatiens
– Marigolds
– Begonias
– Geraniums
– Vinca
– Verbenas

To create a large garden in a short amount of time, horticulturists often recommend purchasing mostly perennials and shrubs, then adding in annuals to help fill in the space until the plants start to grow, giving the garden a look of establishment.