What are
Annual Plants?

As the name states, annual plants live up to a year depending on the types of flowers and plants, along with the climate they grow in.

Some can live longer, even a few years in warmer areas. Colder, winter climates the plant dies and must be replanted.

Annuals reproduce by seed and sometimes, although rarely, by root. One flower can produce up to 60,000 seed per square yard yearly. The majority of seeds being found in the top 2 inches of soil.

The flower structure has the same basic characteristics as a perennial plant:

  1. Roots
  2. Stems
  3. Leaves
  4. Flowers
  5. Seeds

Annuals require more work for the gardener than perennial and biennial plants.

Not only are annuals a great source of food for pollinators but they bring long-season color to your butterfly garden. This is where the gardener can get creative year after year and change flower types around, which is recommended.

They should also be rotated yearly. Unfortunatily many gardeners plant the same annual flower types in the same location for years. Just as crop farmers must rotate crops when planting, so must gardeners do the same with annuals, otherwise disease or quality of plants begin to take place. Also keep in mind that annuals self-seed to.

Annual plants require more fertilizer during growing season and although more expensive, slow release fertilizers are recommended to be the best.

There are two annual plant flower types:

Summer Annuals:
These sow in spring and flowers different times of summer through fall.


  • In warm weather direct seeded into ground or flower bed.

  • Seed indoors January, February and March 6-8 weeks then transplant outdoors with roots just under the soil's surface. It's best to wait for soil to warm and until last frost passes.

  • If it should frost, cover newly planted and growing flowers with a weed control fabric or newspaper. Remove if day is warm and cover again if expecting frost the following night.

Winter Annual:
Seeds germinate in fall, overwinters and flowers the following spring.


  • Winter annuals planted at least 6 weeks before the expected first frost date. This allows root to develop.

  • If purchasing winter annual already in peat pot, Remove all packaging, except for peat pots. Remove top edges of peat pot so water is not pulled away from rooting area.

  • Take any buds off. This helps to promote better branching, making plant stronger.

  • Water well, making sure saturating deep in ground, especially if there is no rain and it is unseasonably warm. Allow surface to dry, then water again.

  • Over-watering can lead to root decay.

Once growing season arrives most annuals require full sun at least 4-6 hours daily. Some annuals can bloom for 6 months or more, most bloom for a few weeks. To extend the flowers life keep removing spent buds. It's best to do so before seed forms.

Related Articles:

Inorganic Mulch -
Weed control fabric for weeds.

Identify Weeds -
Common traits unanimously agreed upon for weeds.

Pruning Butterfly Bush -
Deadheading vs. Coppicing.

Soil Testing Methods -
Soil makes all the difference.

Butterfly Larva -
Plants aren't the only things that over-winter.

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