Perennials are plants that overwinter and return each year. An advantage to using perennials is that they need only be planted once, reducing cost and labor. In addition, many species will self-seed or can be divided; yielding more plants that can eventually be distributed throughout your landscape - for free!
Annuals need to be planted each year, usually in spring. An advantage of using annuals is their long blooming cycle. Many varieties consistently flower until the first frosts.
Using both perennials and annuals in the landscape will give you the benefits of what each have to offer. You may wish to think of using annuals as a supplementation to your perennials. For instance, when there are little perennials in bloom, your annuals will be there keeping your garden beds looking colorful.
The trickiest part of using perennials and annuals close to each other is getting the water and sun conditions right. For example…
Pansies, Calendula, Ageratum and Snapdragons are cool season annuals, ideal for spring and fall. They will bloom nicely when little else is, and generally need full to partial sun. Violas are related to pansies and are another cool season plant that will tolerate partial shade.
When temperatures rise you may need to replace your cool season annuals with ones better equipped for heat. Impatiens and Begonias are two very popular choices that offer a lot of reliable color in shady areas. They look great next to big leafy Hostas and other shade loving perennials. Coleus is used for its colorful foliage and looks tropical and gorgeous towering over a lower growing shade loving groundcover.
The list of sun loving annuals is extensive with Petunias and Moss Rose making excellent choices to fill in between taller perennials and shrubs. Zinnias, Cosmos and Geraniums offer height and fill in vertical space with varieties that come in a myriad of lively colors.
Annuals typically need more water than perennials. When planting both in the same bed, try and clump the annuals and perennials separately so that you can spot-water the annuals without soaking their perennial neighbors. These kinds of ‘combo beds’ do best with well drained soil as it helps to keep perennials happy as they inadvertently get more water than they might otherwise be accustomed to.
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