Guest Column

Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Annuals vs Perennials


Homeowners often wonder whether it is better to plant annuals or perennials to develop color in their landscape. The answer is both! Planting a combination of annuals and perennials adds color and variety in your gardens that last season after season.

An annual is a plant that lives for only one season. Although replacing annuals at the end of each season adds maintenance to your yard, the reward is a rainbow of vibrant colors while these plants are blooming. Annuals typically last three to six months, requiring replacement two to three times per year.

When using annuals, plan your landscape to include several places where you want constant color and do not mind replanting each season. These locations can be garden beds or planters. Popular spots for annuals include framing a front entry, highlighting a driveway or mailbox, or surrounding a relaxing outdoor living space. Prepare your gardens for annuals with two to three inches of compost, peat or topsoil. If you choose, you can add fertilizer; mix approximately the first six inches of soil before planting.

In our area, look for warm weather annuals such as begonias, coleus, gerber daisies, impatiens, melampodium, salvias, torenia, vincas, and zinnias.

Perennials are plants, shrubs and trees that last indefinitely; flowers can survive at least three growing seasons in Northeast Florida. Many perennials turn brown and seem to die in the winter, but they will grow back from the roots. Just prune off dead stems and wait for them to reappear. Although perennials require less maintenance since they do not need replacing, they do not produce the dramatic color of annuals.

Consider planning your landscape with at least 90% perennials to balance the showy color with less replacement cost and effort.

When selecting perennials to add to your landscape, look for African iris, agapanthus, blue daze, bush daisy, foxtail fern, gaillardia, gardenia, gazania, gold mound duranta, hydrangea, knockout/drift roses, lantana, loropetalum, mandevilla, muhly grass, pentas, portulaca and potato vine.

Happy planting!

Flower of the Week: Pentas

Please email Kathy at for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information and ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.