Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Long Will My Plants Grow? (formerly posted on Tiny Green Thumbs)

Plants in your garden are called either annuals, biennials, or perennials. Annuals only live for one season. Biennials take two years to grow flowers, and perennials live from year to year. Perennials may "disappear" during cold winter months, but will regrow when the Spring returns.
Annual flowers, like Marigolds, Sunflowers, or garden vegetables such as tomatoes, will grow from a seed, produce flowers, and fruit and or seeds, all within one growing season. The seeds may drop onto the ground and will grow a new plant during the next season, but usually you will have to plant them each Spring to get new plants.
Biennials grow only stems and leaves the first year after their seeds are planted. They will die back during the winter months and will regrow new stems, leaves and flowers
during the next Spring. Their flowers will produce seeds during this second season and the whole plant will die at the end of the growing season. A good way to keep these flowers blooming is to plant seeds each year, so that after the first year, you'll have some flowering plants each year. Some biennials you may know are Foxglove and Sweet William.
Perennials are plants whose leaves and stems will die back during the winter, but the roots or bulbs will continue to live underground. They will produce new stems, leaves and flowers year after year. Examples of perennials are Coneflower, Lantana, and Hydrangea. A few may even keep their leaves and stems during the year, like Shasta Daisies.
Even perennial plants will sometimes die. This will depend on the health of the soil and the plant itself. Read the seed package carefully to decide where to plant the seeds. Does the plant need a lot of light or does it need part shade? Does it need a lot of water or not much? The package should also tell you if the seeds are for annuals, biennials or perennials. If not, go to the internet and look it up. There may be extra information not on the package. The next time you're in a garden center, try guessing which plants are which. With a little practice, you'll start recognizing the differences.