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Grow with KARE: All about annuals, biennials and perennials

In this week’s Grow with KARE we are taking it back to the basics. What’s the difference between an annual, a biennial and a perennial?

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — There are plenty of new gardeners every year. So in this week’s Grow with KARE, we are returning to the basics. What’s the difference between an annual, a biennial and a perennial?

The terms all describe the life cycle of a plant. Each has its own pros and cons when choosing which to plant in your space.  

Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one season. They do not survive the winter and will not grow again next year. Petunias, impatiens, and pansies are examples of annuals. Marigolds, moss roses and cosmos are examples of annuals that readily reseed themselves in the garden. Annuals are great for adding instant color to your garden or containers and blooming all season long. You will have to replace annuals with new plants each year.  

Biennials run on a two-year cycle. The first year it produces green growth and strong roots. In the second season, the plant produces a flower and seeds. After the second year the plant dies. Parsley, hollyhocks and fox glove are examples of biennials. 

Perennials are plants that come back year after year. They survive the winter are regrow from the same roots in the spring. Some perennials, like peonies, live for decades and even a century. Other perennials have much shorter lives. But all live longer than two years. Hostas, bee balm and cone flower are popular perennials. Perennials tend to have a specific bloom season that generally doesn’t last all summer long like annuals. But they can be more economical because you buy one plant that lasts for years.  

Good luck to all the new gardeners and don’t feel shy to reach out with questions! 

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