As you’re planning your garden layout, one thing to consider is where you’ll plant the ones that will come back next year – perennials, and where you’ll fill in with ones you’ll need to plant every year – annuals. The names themselves make it hard to keep straight…common sense would make annuals sound like they come back annually right? Well when you’re at the store and you see the tag that says “annual,” just remember those are the ones that take your work planting them annually, whereas perennials only take the work of planting once.
One of the reasons it’s a good idea to consider annuals vs. perennials in your garden layout is the bloom time. Perennials tend to have more of a “bloom window,” such as spring, summer, or fall. For example, tulips will bloom in the early spring, then go away, so have some daisies to fill in with a summer bloom, and finally chrysanthemums for fall color.
Conversely, annuals bloom all season, so for instant color throughout all of our warmer months, you’ll want annuals like petunias, geraniums, begonias, dahlias, lobelia, coleus, lantana, impatient s, and many more. All your veggie plants are also annuals. If we lived in southern Florida, many of these would survive year round and be considered perennials, but here the first hard frost will do them in.
Here in northeastern Colorado, we are a climate zone 4-5, so there are many perennials that do well to choose from – the colder the zone, the fewer varieties. Watch for the zone rating as you purchase perennials for your yard. Many retailers get plants in from southern states and sell them as perennials here, but because of their zone rating (higher than 4-5), they won’t make it through our winters.
We’re lucky enough to have the Plant Select Organization, which is sponsored by Colorado State University and the Botanical Gardens in Denver. Plant Select has trial gardens throughout Colorado where they test plant varieties for hardiness, disease resistance, bloom time, color, quality, aggressiveness, and water needs. Check out their website for a complete listing of flowers and shrubs that come back every year – from achillea (yarrow) to zauschneria (hardy fuchsia).
Once they’ve been established in your garden, perennials can often be shared with neighbors and friends by digging up a clump (keeping dirt around the roots), and transplanting it into another area or yard.
A combination of annuals and perennials is the trick to keep your garden blooming and colorful all season long. Perennials provide the continued texture, color, and durability (most will come back even after a hail storm), while annuals offer the blasts of color all season.
This past winter a lot of folks lost some of the shallow rooted perennials due to dry conditions, so during those drought winters, it is a good idea to water a couple of times.
Annuals should be planted by the middle of June for the most enjoyment during the summer as they need time to root out and bloom before Jack Frost comes. We have 80 different species of perennials with many varieties of each, and you can plant them all summer long, not just in the spring. So when you find a spot in your yard that needs a little extra something, stop by to check out our wide variety!
About the Author
Susan is a Colorado Master Gardener, as designated by Colorado State University. She is the voice behind our Green Thumb Gossip, a weekly blog where she shares her expertise on things like when to plant what, tricks of the trade, and how to make your yard the talk of the town