I’ve noticed that some people confuse the terms perennial and annual. As we kick off a new growing season, let’s refresh our memory. Perennials are plants that grow year after year in our zone 4 climate. In the poem Desiderata, Max Ehrmann wrote that love “is as perennial as the grass.” Whereas annuals grow for one season only and die off from the first frost. Remember: Annuals are replanted annually.
Some people find it frivolous to grow a plant that lasts only a few months, but let me assure you, they are worth it. Here are a few reasons why.
Annuals have a longer flowering period. Perennials come up without a fuss, and we eagerly await the precious window of time when the iris unfurls its iridescent bloom or the sedum bursts open pink, attracting many pollinators. However, perennials bloom briefly and then work to establish seed and store energy in their roots for a long winter ahead. Annuals, on the other hand, can continue producing flowers until a freeze.
Many of these annual blooms are visited by pollinators, such as butterflies and hummingbirds. Some of my favorite varieties are zinnia, cleome, verbena and sunflower.
Lastly, annuals make a statement as some grow rapidly in a few months’ time. Dahlia, Mexican marigold, castor bean and cosmos can grow from a 3-inch potted plant into a 5-foot bush in a few short months.
Alison Feik of Excelsior has a degree in landscape architecture and holds a wealth of knowledge about local plants and gardening. Grow more at beingstronginnature.com.