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Annual vs. Perennial: What’s the Difference?

Annuals vs. Perennials

It’s easy to confuse annuals and perennials, especially when you are new to gardening. There is even something called a biennial. From home gardeners to nursery owners, it seems like everyone is throwing these words around. But what do they mean? Why does it matter for your garden? Are they really all that different? 

So what is the difference?

Annual plants grow, flower, seed, and die off in a single year

Biennial plants form vegetative growth in the first year, and flower, seed, and die off in the second year

Perennial plants grow, flower, and seed year after year

What do you need in your garden?

So that leaves us with the question: which do you need for your outdoor space? The answer is simple; it’s up to you! 

Every garden is unique and so are the gardeners who make them. Most gardens have a combination of annuals and perennials. Some have one or the other. And some gardens have all three: biennials, annuals, and perennials.

At the end of the day, your garden can be composed of whichever plants you prefer. As long as you are selecting plants that you like and fit with your garden design, there are no wrong choices.

How do I choose annuals for my garden?

Before you decide on buying annuals (or biennials) it is wise to get a feel for your garden. Ask yourself the following:

  • What kind of soil do I have?
  • Is my garden on a hill or at the bottom of one?
  • How much effort can I put into my garden?
  • What do I want to achieve with my outdoor space?
  • What is my budget?

From here, you can decide whether or not you want to start your flowers from seed or if you want to buy them already grown. From there, you can decide what plants you want for your garden. 

Making decisions on plants can be challenging. Selecting plants that are beautiful and serve a purpose (and your wallet) is a priority. You may wonder, ‘ annuals vs perennials: which is more cost-effective?’

Are Perennials worth it?

Imagine getting a plant that you only have to buy one time and that plant would last for years, or even decades. With perennials, you don’t have to imagine. These plants are long-lived. And, often they need little maintenance if any. 

Perennials may cost more upfront than annuals. However, in terms of overall savings, perennials are well worth the investment. Annuals have to be grown from seed or re-purchased each year. Perennials, however, are a one-time purchase.

Most nurseries sell annuals because they are profitable and ensure repeat customers. Many businesses see little value in providing a plant that will survive and thrive for years. That’s what makes us different. We want you to have plants that you can enjoy for years to come. 

Our Top 10 Perennials

We offer a wide range of perennials that can be shipped directly to you. We have plants that suit a wide variety of styles, preferences, and interests. 

Most of our plants (94% in fact) are native to North America. Native plants are beneficial because they are (or were once) naturalized to your area. They support beneficial insects meaning fewer pest control issues. Since they are suited to your region, native plants are less susceptible to diseases.

Without further ado, here are out top 10 perennials:

10. Indian Pink

Indian Pink perennial thrives in warmer climates and does best in zones 5 to 9. This exotic-looking flower stands out among its foliage. It should come as no surprise that it draws pollinators. This plant blooms summer-long and can go in any sunny spot in the garden. 

Check out the Indian Pink product page here

9. Citronella Geranium

Citronella geranium perennials are native to the United States and grow best from zone 3 to 8. They are pollinator-friendly with their delicate, purple flowers. Perhaps the greatest feature of Citronella Geranium is its ability to repel mosquitos. The leaves of this plant release an oil that repels mosquitos. Many bug repellants contain the repelling oil of this plant. This plant is an excellent way to keep mosquitos away from your garden and you, naturally!

Check out the Citronella Geranium product page here

8. Red Hot Poker

If desert vibes are your thing or if you want a unique plant in your garden, the Red Hot Poker may be for you. This perennial grows in the warmer zones of 6 through 9 and likes to be in sunny locations. The flowers are vibrant with bright yellow bases that turn to flashy red at the tips. It is another easy-to-grow plant that will return year after year. 


7. Hepatica

Hepatica is a perennial that is part of the buttercup family. Native to Northern America, Hepatica grows mostly in woodlands. It does best in part shade to full shade in zones 4 through 8. Hepatica brings much-needed color and liveliness to spring. 

Check out the Hepatica product page here

6. Virginia Spring Beauty 

The Virginia Spring Beauty lives up to its name. This perennial is native to woodlands in the eastern United States and is best suited for zones 4 through 9. Its exotic pink-streaked white petals emerge from below leaves and through the foliage to peak out during early spring. They are small treasures suitable for any garden with a little shade.


5. Great White Trillium

The Great White Trillium is a flower that is so beautiful, it’s hard to believe it’s real. Its flowers have three large, rippled, white petals with soft yellow stamen in the center. Though it appears tropical, it does best in zones 3 to 9. Great White Trillium is a perennial native to the eastern United States and prefers part sun or part shade. 

Check out the Great White Trillium product page here

4. Blood Root

Blood Root gets its name from the red liquid its root secretes when cut. Because of the red liquid it secretes, many artists and crafters use it to dye fabrics. This perennial plant does best in woodland settings and can be grown anywhere from zone 3 to zone 7. 

Check out the Blood Root product page here

3. Milkweed Plant

Milkweed is one of the most important perennial plants in native-plant gardens today. Many gardeners have been planting it to encourage pollinators, but more importantly to save the Monarch Butterflies. Without this plant. Monarchs would not be able to lay their eggs. Fortunately, Milkweed is easy to grow and can thrive in zones 4 through 9.

Check out the Milkweed Plant product page here

2. Virginia Bluebells

Blue is the rarest color in nature making the Virginia Bluebell one special plant! There are many flowers that are said to be blue, but are actually purple. This is not the case for Virginia Bluebells. They are a true blue flower that is native to the eastern United States. They grow best in full shade in zones 3 to 8.

Check out the Virginia Bluebells product page here

1. Butterfly Weed

Number one on our perennial best sellers list is the Butterfly Weed. This drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant pollinator magnet is a must-have for any true butterfly garden. The Butterfly Weed can be planted in full sun in zones 4 through 9.

Check out the Butterfly Weed product page here

The best garden is the one that brings you joy. There are endless plants to choose from, but hopefully, this list gave you some fun ideas. Whether you want a garden full of annuals or just perennials, it is your choice!

Wild Geranium - TN Nursery

Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium is a native perennial plant with deeply lobed, palmate leaves and delicate, pink to lavender flowers that resemble small crane's bills, often found in woodlands and meadows. It is a native perennial plant offering several positive landscaping uses. Its natural beauty, adaptability, and ecological benefits make it a valuable addition to gardens and naturalistic landscapes. Wild geranium is proof that great things can come in small packages. Its flowers may only be about an inch in size, but their delightful display always wins smiles. Interestingly, this plant offers showy leaves and blooms. What Characteristics Define the Greenery Of Wild Geranium Formally known as the geranium maculatum, these woodland perennials produce hairy, unbranched stems that can stretch up to 24 inches in height. They are generally either green or reddish. The visually compelling leaves are vibrant green, toothed, and deeply palmately lobed. Most feature five lobes, but some have seven. These leaves measure between three inches and six inches in both length and width. The leaves at the bottom are larger and have coarse hairs. Those at the top of the plant are more delicate and have finer hair. What Do the Flowers of The Perennial Look Like They bloom in late spring or early summer. Each upright stem will produce a cluster of two to five blooms. The saucer-shaped flowers generally measure one inch in size, but they can reach up to three inches. The flowers are composed of five petals. In addition, they have ten yellow stamens and five green sepals that encircle their pistils. What Color Blooms Does It Produce They are in shades of pink or lavender. However, whites, blues, reds, and burgundies are also possible. While the flowers may appear to be solid at first glance, a closer look will often reveal that darker lines run from the center of the bloom to the edge of the petal. Many popular flowers have multiple names, and these gorgeous gems are no exception. Why are they called cranesbills? The explanation may seem hard to spot, but a look at their picturesque seed pods can be revealing. Get Yours Today At TN Nursery After they have bloomed, they produce a charming fruit capsule. It has a long, central column, which imaginative people say resembles a crane's bill. Five basal cells with seeds form the rest of the crane's head. Colorful and full of cheer, they are fantastic additions to any garden. They work well in mass plantings and borders and attract pollinators, butterflies, and songbirds.

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