Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle from seed to flower within one growing season. Perennials will commonly bloom more than once and will return for consecutive growing seasons. Biennials are plants that take at least two growing seasons to develop, flower and then die. Most shrubs and trees are perennials in terms of completing a flowering cycle and remain living for consecutive years.

The soil should be aerated and amended with fertilizer before planting annual or perennial beds. Annual planting beds should be planted by mid-Spring and removed by late summer. The next group of plantings should be hardy annuals blooming from late winter to mid-spring.

Perennials can be placed in colorful flower beds, formal walkways, or grouped for massing. Everything depends on what design you want the plants to achieve. Creating a plan for your annual and perennial beds will greatly enhance the overall design of your landscape and final planting.

Basic care for annuals, perennials, and biennials:

Watering: New plantings will need to be monitored for water consumption. They should at least be getting a good soak of one inch of soil depth. Once the plants are established, they may not need as much watering. Try not to water your gardens frequently, as this may encourage shallow root growth.

Mulching: Using mulch will protect your newly planted garden beds from extreme temperatures and retain much of the moisture applied during watering. Be sure to choose from pine straw, bark nuggets, finely ground bark, and shredded leaves. Choosing the right mulch for your plants will also help seal in nutrients needed for successful growth. Check your soil pH and plant needs before purchasing any new mulch.

Fertilizing: A slow release nitrogen fertilizer will benefit new growth for younger plants and should be applied annually to more mature plantings.

Grooming: Deadheading is the most important maintenance routine for annuals and perennials. By removing spent blooms, you will encourage more bloom growth. Plants should also be pruned according to growth habits and allowed to continue growing new foliage.