The Difference between Annuals and Perennials

A couple of years ago on a gardening forum I got an earful from another gardener after I referred to a plant as an annual. He went on a rant about how there were no such thing as annual plants and because they were a “social construct, blah, blah, blah consumer culture, blah, blah, blah.” I would be a fool not to admit there is some merit to his argument and that I partially agree with this sentiment. But, it is generally accepted that in gardening circles when one mentions annuals they mean the plants that can go from seed to flower and back to seed within a year or one growing season. Perennials are longer-lived plants that come back every year and after a few years lose some vigor and can be rejuvenated by cuttings, starting more from seed, or by dividing them.

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Do you know which one of these is an annual and which is a perennial? The flower on the right is Zinnia “Green Envy” and an annual plant. I direct sowed the seeds in my garden a couple of years ago. The flower on the left belongs to a daylily I don’t have an ID for and is a perennial.

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