When it comes to plants, there are two main categories: annuals and perennials. Annual plants complete their life cycle within one year, meaning they sprout, grow, flower, produce seeds, and then die all within a single growing season. Examples of annual plants include marigolds, petunias, and zinnias.
On the other hand, perennial plants live for multiple years and can survive through different seasons. They may die back to the ground during winter or go dormant, but they will regrow from their roots or underground structures when conditions become favorable again. Examples of perennial plants include roses, daisies, and tulips.
While annuals provide quick bursts of color and can be easy to care for, perennials offer long-term beauty and require more attention in terms of pruning, fertilizing, and dividing. It ultimately depends on your personal preference and gardening goals.
The main contrast between annual and perennial plants lies in their growth cycle. Annuals have a life span of one season, whereas perennials sprout and proliferate over two years. But what does this mean for your garden? Essentially, annuals must be replanted each year as they discontinue their existence after one season and leave behind seeds for next year’s growth. Conversely, perennials are planted once and return annually from bulbs, providing continuous blooms. If you’re looking to add some year-round color to your garden, check out our list of 31 plant options, starting with the African Violet.
The African Violet plant is a low-maintenance perennial that thrives in shade and high humidity. Its scientific name is Saintpaulia streptocarpus and it originates from the High Tropics of Tanzania. With a plant size of 2 to 6 inches, it is an excellent houseplant that can bloom year-round with medium light to bright indirect light exposure. African Violets have succulent-like leaves that help them absorb water and produce blooms in various shades of purple, pink, red, violet, and white. To keep them thriving, they require occasional fertilization and a humid environment. Another plant worth considering is Ajuga or Bugleweed.
Ajuga, a member of the Lamiaceae family, is a type of perennial herbaceous plant that originates from Europe, Northern Africa, and Southwest Asia. It can reach a height of 0.6 inches to 1 foot and thrives in both shade and full sun. This plant is rated as a zone 3-10 plant and is an ideal choice for ground cover on slopes or natural woodland habitats. However, caution should be taken when planting it as it can spread quite vigorously. Ajuga produces tiny purple or blue flowers that grow vertically around a central stock, reaching up to a height of 1 foot. Although it blooms from spring to summer, its foliage is quite attractive on its own, featuring low-growing light green leaves mixed with newer leaves that have a purple hue. Additionally, Ajuga can attract songbirds, bees, and hummingbirds. It is also commonly known as Alpine Violet.
To ensure the proper growth of Alpine Violets during the flowering season, it is recommended to water them generously or moderately using soft, settled water. It’s essential to avoid waterlogging and overdrying of the soil. The scientific name of this perennial plant is Cyclamen, and it originates from the Mediterranean region. With a size of 6 to 9 inches, Alpine Violets prefer partial shade to dappled sunlight, and they can thrive in plant zones 9 to 11. These cold-tolerant plants are commonly found in woodland areas, growing under trees and shrubs, making them an excellent choice for natural landscapes. They bloom in spring and winter but go dormant during summer, and their heart-shaped leaves make them a popular potted plant for Valentine’s Day. Their flowers come in various colors such as purple, burgundy, pink, and white, and they have a pleasant fragrance. However, it’s important to note that their tubers are highly toxic if consumed raw. Another flowering plant similar to Alpine Violets is Alyssum or Sweet Alyssum.
Alyssum, also known as Lobularia maritima, is a plant that originates from the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. This warm climate perennial or annual has small, lanceolate, gray-green leaves with a slight fuzz, and produces petite flowers that can be white, lilac, or purple in color. Alyssum typically grows to a size of 3 to 10 inches and requires partial shade to full sun exposure for at least six hours per day. It is best suited for plant zones 5 to 9.
The tiny blossoms of Alyssum grow in a spherical shape and bloom year-round in warmer climates, although they are technically classified as annuals. These plants prefer well-drained soil that is moist and can thrive in full sun or partial shade.
Alyssum is often used as a ground cover or border around patios or yards and is known to attract birds, pollinators, and butterflies. Another plant that shares similar characteristics to Alyssum is Anise Hyssop.
The Anise Hyssop is a beautiful plant that grows from seedlings and produces stunning purple-blue flowers with a refreshing minty scent. Its scientific name is Agastache, and it is a perennial plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall. This plant is a hybrid of species from the United States and Asia. It thrives in partial shade to full sun and is best suited for plant zones 5-9.
The Anise Hyssop, also known as “Blue fortune,” is a long-blooming plant that attracts an array of pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and birds. Its vertical flower stalks make it a great addition to any garden, adding height and interest along borders and fences. It is also an excellent plant to cut and display.
Belonging to the mint family, the leaves of the Anise Hyssop can be used in making tea. If you’re looking for a unique and fragrant plant to add to your garden, the Anise Hyssop is a great choice. Another plant that’s worth considering is the Begonia.
To keep Begonia leaves healthy, it’s important to maintain a relatively high level of humidity in the air. These plants, which can be either perennial or annual and are native to Mexico and Central America, grow up to 1.5 feet tall and thrive in deep or partial shade. Their thick, succulent-like leaves and stems come in a variety of colors including pink, red, white, yellow, or multicolored, making them an attractive addition to any indoor or outdoor garden. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and should not be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. While their roots are the most toxic, the flowers and leaves can also cause vomiting in pets. Overall, Begonias are a great choice for houseplants with many different varieties available to choose from. Another popular flower is the Black-Eyed Susan.
To maintain the health of Black-Eyed Susans, they should be watered regularly during spring and summer, as well as immediately after being planted in a permanent location in your garden. Scientifically known as Rudbeckia fulgida, this plant is a perennial that can be found in the eastern United States and typically grows between 2 to 4 feet tall. It thrives in partial shade to full sun and is suitable for plant zones 3 to 8.
Black-Eyed Susans are a hardy plant that can withstand moderate drought. They bloom in early summer and continue to do so into the fall if deadheaded. However, it’s important to note that some varieties of Black-Eyed Susan, like Rudbeckia hirta, are annuals and won’t come back year after year. Perennial varieties, like Rudbeckia fulgida, will continue to grow throughout the year in regions with suitable climates, such as the southern United States.
The flowers of Black-Eyed Susans are a beautiful golden hue and resemble the shape of the sun’s rays with a black center. These plants are often seen growing in the wild in fields or along hillsides.
Moving on to another plant, Blue Salvia Marine is a different species altogether.
The Salvia chamaedryoides, commonly known as Blue Salvia, is a perennial plant that is native to Australia. With a height of up to 2 ft, this plant blooms brightly in shades of blue and bluish-purple from summer to autumn. It thrives well in full sun exposure and is suitable for planting in zones 7 to 11.
If you live in warmer climates such as California, you can enjoy the year-round bloom of this Sage. It adds a pop of neon blue color to your garden and is perfect for borders or edges where you want a bit of height.
Aside from its beauty, Blue Salvia is also a drought-tolerant plant that requires occasional to moderate watering. You can use it for xeriscaping and expect it to attract bees and butterflies while keeping the deer away.
Another plant that can add beauty to your garden is Bougainvillea.
During the summer season, Bougainvillea requires frequent watering, but it’s important to ensure that it’s not excessive. This plant is a perennial vine or scrambling shrub with thorny branches that can be pruned to grow like a shrub in small spaces. It is commonly found growing along fences or climbing up trellises, and produces tiny white flowers alongside brightly colored blooms that come in varying shades of pink or purple. Originally from South America, Bougainvillea thrives in full sun and is best suited for plant zones 9 and 10. If you’re looking for a plant that can withstand salt and drought, Bougainvillea is an excellent choice, particularly for coastal locations. Another popular plant is the Butterfly Pea.
The Butterfly Pea, scientifically known as Clitoria ternatea, requires ample lighting and can even tolerate direct sunlight. It is a perennial plant originating from Africa and Eastern Asia, and typically grows into 6 to 10 ft vines. This plant prefers partial shade to full sun and thrives in zones 9 to 10. The Butterfly Pea is an excellent choice for planting in wooded areas, as it can spread widely in such environments. As a vine, it works well on arbors or trellises and is named after the flower and plant resemblance to peas. This popular flowering vine can sometimes be invasive, depending on your location. However, when controlled, it produces beautiful flowers that come in various colors ranging from deep purple to blue hues. Calibrachoa is another plant worth considering.
The Calibrachoa is a plant that boasts an opulent display of flowers with a delightful fragrance. It goes by the scientific name of Calibrachoa x hybrida and can be classified as either an annual or perennial. This plant hails from South and Central America and tends to grow between 3 and 9 inches. It requires full sun exposure and thrives in plant zones 7 to 11. Known by other names such as million bells or mini petunias, these small blooms come in a range of colors and are produced in large quantities. They are perfect for hanging baskets or borders, and while they only grow to around 3 inches in height, they can spread wide. These flowers are resilient to drought and require well-drained soil. Another plant with similarly stunning blooms is the Celosia.
The celosia flower has become a crowd-favorite for its luxurious and velvety inflorescences that come in vibrant hues. It is scientifically known as Celosia and falls under the category of perennials. Originally hailing from Africa, this plant can grow up to 3 feet in size. It thrives in full sunlight and is best suited for plant zones 10 to 11. The name ‘celosia’ is derived from the plume-like shape of their blossoms, which look like a blazing flame. These flowers are tall and narrow, almost furry in texture, and come in various colors such as white, pink, purple, orange, yellow, and even dark maroon. Celosia is a long-lasting plant that is easy to care for and often reseeds itself. Its blooms are plentiful and large, making it an excellent choice for creating a stunning display along pathways or sections of a garden. Additionally, the young leaves of celosia are edible and taste similar to spinach. As for growing conditions, they prefer well-drained soil and full sunlight. Celosia, also known as Christ Plant, is an outstanding choice for both novice and experienced gardeners alike.
The Christ Plant, also known as Euphorbia milii, is a perennial plant that originates from Madagascar. It is a beautiful plant that blooms brightly from spring until the end of autumn. This shrub has small pink or red flowers on a stalk of thick black thorns and can grow up to 3 to 6 feet.
For optimal growth, this plant requires full sun exposure and moderate heat. The ideal plant zone for Christ thorn is between 9 to 11. It is drought tolerant and prefers dryer climates with well-drained soil. This plant is often grown indoors in sunny locations or outdoors in full sun.
Legend has it that this plant was used to make the crown of thorns placed on Christ’s head, hence the name Christ thorn. Despite its beauty, it is mildly poisonous and can resist deer and rabbits.
Another beautiful plant to consider is the Hardy Chrysanthemum.
The Astrov family includes both annual and perennial species, with the Hardy Chrysanthemum being a prime example. This perennial plant from Eurasia to Indo-China and Subarctic America to Canada can grow up to 2 to 3 feet in size and thrives in full or dappled sunlight. It’s best suited for plant zones 4 to 8. The Hardy Chrysanthemum, also known as Old Fashioned Mums, belongs to the daisy family and is a member of the Rubella group, which produces perennials that bloom in summer and fall. When selecting Chrysanthemums, keep in mind that most of them are annuals. These plants are perfect for borders and containers, come in a variety of colors, and produce flowers in high density. Another great choice for your garden is the Coral Drift Rose.
Golden Trumpet is a type of flowering plant that has trumpet-shaped flowers in a beautiful golden color.
Scientific Name: Allamanda cathartica
Plant Type: Woody Vine
Geographic Origin: South America
Plant Size: Up to 10 feet
Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Plant Zone: 9 to 11
This vine produces stunning golden blooms that last from late spring to early fall. It is a tropical plant that is known for its ability to quickly grow and cover trellises or walls. The plant is low-maintenance and requires little attention, making it great for beginner gardeners. Its bright flowers are also attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators.
The Golden Trumpet plant, scientifically named Allamanda cathartica, is a perennial or annual vine native to the tropical regions of America. It thrives best in full sun and is typically grown as a houseplant or in greenhouses in states outside its natural habitat in Central America. This sprawling vine is perfect for wrapping around trellises or other supports. While it can be grown outside during summer, it needs to be brought inside during winter. The large, trumpet-shaped bright yellow flowers give the plant its name and bloom from spring through late fall. Caution must be taken with planting these vines in certain areas as they can be invasive. Another lovely tropical plant is Hibiscus.
To keep your hibiscus healthy and happy, it’s important to give it lots of water. This plant thrives on moisture, so don’t skimp on the watering! By the way, did you know that the scientific name for hibiscus is Rosa sinensis?