As a novice gardener, one of the first questions I had was “What’s the point of planting annuals?” I honestly couldn’t understand why anyone would spend time and energy growing something that would only last a year. It seemed, quite frankly, like a huge waste of resources and a toll on the soul to put forth effort into something so brief. Since coming to learn more about the nature of gardening and plants in general I think I’ve found the answer to my question and it’s more surprising than I expected.
Annuals are unique and cherished for many reasons and the more I learned the more I wanted to grow some of my own. Most of our favorite crops are grown as annuals so produce gardeners don’t need to argue the advantages of growing annuals…the proof is on the plate! For this reason we’ll focus on annual flowers on this blog.
We’ve got plenty of die hard perennial fans out there, but give our reasoning a chance and we just might change your mind!
Waiting is a big aspect of gardening – waiting to plant, waiting to harvest, waiting to bloom, you get the idea. The good news with annuals is that your waiting is greatly reduced. Because annuals complete their life cycle in a single year, they really don’t have a lot of time to dilly-dally while growing. This means that they typically mature rapidly in a rush to present their blooms. Whether you’re concerned about keeping your favorite pollinators fed year round or just love seeing bursts of floral color as early as possible, annuals are fool-proof crowd-pleasers!
Impatiens, snapdragons, zinnias and petunias are all beloved favorites of gardeners everywhere particularly because they are a surefire way to flood hanging baskets and window boxes with vivid, floriferous color. When you’re looking for intense foliage presence, annuals have got you covered there as well! (Coleus are so colorful and they practically raise themselves) Few perennial plants can compete with the level of showy flamboyance of annual plants which go above and beyond to invigorate containers and the landscape.
If you’re as clumsy and scatterbrained as I am you are well versed in the blessing of do-overs. Annuals are perfect for people like me because if you make a mistake (clashing colors, unsuitable plant neighbors, trouble with lighting etc.) it’s far from the end of the world. You can redo and improve for an even better garden next year.
Many call Nature an artist, but did you know she also makes a great teacher? Parents who encourage exploring the natural world will find that annuals are excellent tools for helping children understand the life cycle of plants. Observing annuals as they grow from seed to mature plant that then returns to seed is a gentle and organic way to handle the complex topics of life, reproduction and death.
The best part about annuals is that they pair well with perennials and add to the harmony of your garden. Nature doesn’t draw a line in the sand separating perennials from annuals in the wild so why should we do it in our personal green spaces? Annuals remind us that embracing variety and partnership are the keys to a successful garden and a successful life.