Annuals and Perennials: What’s the Difference? Flower Facts You Ought to Know

What’s the difference between annuals and perennials? If you’re a novice gardener, you’ve probably asked yourself that question when picking out flowers at your local garden store.

Annual and perennial are classifications based on the lifespan and bloom cycle of a particular flower. It’s something that gardeners need to pay particular attention to so they can make sure their blooms thrive.

Annuals and perennials bloom at different times and need to be maintained differently, so be sure you know what type of flower you’re planting before putting it in the ground (or flowerbed, or pot).

What kind of plants should you choose? We’re here to help you decide. Dig in to discover everything you ever wanted to know about annuals and perennials.

Annuals and perennials: What’s the difference?

The biggest difference is the length of time these two types of flowers live: Annuals last only one year and perennials come back every year.

Annuals produce constant color, while the blooming period for perennials is short (just six to eight weeks). And maintaining annuals is far less demanding than perennials, which require more work and are better prospect for active gardeners.

Annuals offer color

Annuals expend all of their energy in a single year, which gives them brighter colors, says Mark Ruibal of Ruibal’s Plants of Texas. But this also means they have a shorter lifespan. However, some annuals planted in the spring will make it all the way through the summer—it just depends on the type of flower.

While annuals look great in just about any garden on your property, a popular place to plant them is near the front porch, where their bright colors create curb appeal. Plus, you can change your color scheme once a year!

Not sure which annuals to plant? Our experts recommend starting with these:

  • Angelonia
  • Begonias
  • Caladium
  • Calibrachoa
  • Coleus
  • Dragon wing begonia
  • Impatiens
  • Marigolds
  • Petunia
  • Torenia
  • Vinca

Note: Depending on your location, some of these annuals might be considered perennials. So, it’s best to read the plant’s tag and talk to your garden center expert about which blooms will thrive in your climate.

Perennials come back each year

Perennials will bloom in their peak season and then go back to green. You can divide your perennials into three seasons of blooms, Ruibal says—spring, summer, and fall—so you always have a portion of the perennials in peak form. That also means you’ll have a garden that encourages pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds all year round.

Perennials are a better choice if you have the time and patience to maintain them. They have spreading roots that usually require more water and fertilization than annuals, and regular pruning is also a must. They can also get damaged during an unusually wet winter, so you need to make sure there’s good drainage; otherwise, the flowers’ roots will rot.

“That’s the biggest problem for why mums don’t come back,” says Rick Effinger of Effinger Garden Center in Belleville, IL.

Here are some perennial suggestions:

  • Astilbe
  • Butterfly weed
  • Coneflower
  • Coreopsis
  • Daylily
  • Dianthus
  • Fern
  • Hardy geranium
  • Hardy hibiscus
  • Heuchera
  • Hosta
  • Milkweed
  • Mum
  • Nepeta
  • Sedum
  • Shasta daisy

Tips for planting

Before adding plants to your garden, check the plant’s tag for information about sunlight and height. Figure out how much light your yard gets (specifically the area you want to plant in) and then choose plants accordingly.

Some thrive in the direct sunlight. Others like partial sun, while still others prefer the shade.

Also, look at the eventual height of that plant to make sure it fits your garden. You don’t want a plant to take over your garden and leave full sun plants in the shade. If you get a tall perennial, put it in the back of the bed with shorter items in front so that they can enjoy the sun, says Sandi Hillermann McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist in Washington, MO.

No matter what type of flower you plant, you must make sure to put them in the right soil. This means preparing your beds before planting.

You should turn over the soil and add compost or fertilizer.

“You want to make sure your bed is nice and loose, so more nutrients get to the roots,” Ruibal says.

Then try adding time-release fertilizer to the soil, so your plants will get a continuous stream of nutrients.

Mulch your garden after you plant. Adding mulch helps with irrigation, prevents weeds, and protects the plants’ roots during extremes of temperature.

Should you plant annuals or perennials?

Annuals and perennials are about the same price, so cost doesn’t need to be a factor in helping you decide what to plant.

Think about your garden’s goal: If you want a splash of color, go with annuals. If you’re going to tend to your garden, enjoy bringing cut flowers inside, and want to welcome back your plants each year, decide on perennials.

Selling your house in the near future? Effinger recommends planting a healthy dose of colorful annuals and throwing down a fresh half-inch of mulch.

“Color drives everything,” he says. “Color sells houses.”

Of course, you can always add both annuals and perennials to your garden. Going that route creates a well-rounded garden of color and yearly staples.

“Mixing both annuals and perennials gives you the best of both worlds,” McDonald says. “Constant color, great pollination options, and reduced yearly planting expenses.”

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June 19, 2018   No Comments

Turn to the Wall for Space-Saving Storage

Storage: You can’t live without it. But storage furniture that sits on the floor, such as chests and bookcases, has a space-stealing footprint that lessens its effectiveness. With these clever wall-focused solutions to common dilemmas, however, you can have your storage and floor space too.
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June 13, 2018   No Comments

7 Outdoor Improvement Projects You Can Start—and Finish—This Weekend

Warmer weather offers the perfect opportunity to get started on a home improvement project. But if you’re anything like us, you probably fear starting something you can’t finish, especially when there are so many summer distractions. Pool parties, vacations, that new season of “Arrested Development”—you name it, there’s a reason you’re not getting a huge project completed in these wonderful, balmy months.

But before you give up entirely, know this: There are plenty of projects that can be started—and finished—in the course of a single weekend. Sometimes even in less than a day! That leaves you plenty of time to sit back and admire your handiwork.

As you canvass your property for ways to pump up your style, think about small details for your garden, front porch, or lawn. Next, check out the kits available at home improvement stores and garden centers to see if there’s a blueprint that’ll make your building process a bit smoother.

Got your toolbox? Here are seven great outdoor projects you can accomplish this weekend.

1. Give your front door a face-lift

Photo by S / Wiley Interior Photography

Time: Most of a (sunny) weekend

Tools: A quart each of exterior paint and primer, sandpaper, paint roller, paint pan, 2-inch angled paintbrush

Tired of your boring old door but reluctant to entirely replace it? “A front door face-lift requires just a single can of paint and primer,” reports Megan Lewis, a Lowe’s expert.

To start, decide whether you want to remove the door to paint, or paint it in place. If you do the latter, you can tape off the edges so paint won’t splatter the frame. No matter what, remove the hardware first.

Then match new paint to the type of door you have (wood, metal, etc.) and sand away marks or bumps so the fresh coat adheres. Next, apply a primer and then two coats of paint—be sure to let each coat dry thoroughly. (Depending on the color, you might need a third coat.) Use the angled brush for small nooks and the roller for the panels.

2. Build a trellis

Photo by Rikki Snyder

Time: Several hours

Tools: Half-inch-thick pieces of lattice, stain or paint, screws or nails, saw

If you want to spice up your garden, just build a budget-friendly pergola or trellis, suggests J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman. You’ll also be adding visual interest and a pathway for climbing vines and ivies. What’s more, it’s extremely simple. Really, you can do this.

To build one: Create four triangular sides by arranging sawn lattice in the desired pattern and attaching the pieces with screws or nails. Use wood stain or outdoor paint to finish the look.

Can’t get the green to grow? Lewis suggests wrapping a pergola or arbor with lights, ribbon, or streamers for special occasions.

3. Stain the picnic table

Photo by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Time: A half-day

Tools: Sandpaper, waterproof wood stain, foam brush or paintbrush, dropcloth, paint tray, rags, spray cleaner

Freshen your outdoor table for hot dog season with new stain. Scrub the wood, and allow it to dry thoroughly. Sand as needed, removing the residue with a rag. Stain the underside of the table first, and let it dry for two hours or so. Then flip it over and stain the top.

4. Hang and organize a pegboard

Photo by Wall Control

Time: Two hours

Tools: Pegboard, saw, lathe screws or furring strips, assorted hooks for tools

Tame that chaos in the garage with a simple board to house all of your necessary gadgets, instruments, and devices.

Measure the space and consider the number of tools you want to store (you can lay them out to gauge how they’ll look on the wall). Cut the pegboard to fit, and attach it with screws to exposed studs on the wall (or attach a frame of furring strips to the board so you can mount it on a finished wall). Insert hooks, and hang up your tools.

5. Plant herb buckets

Photo by Aloe Designs

Time: Two hours

Tools: Planters, potting soil, garden gloves, a trowel, herbs, watering can

You can’t beat fresh basil for your pasta dishes and mint with your juleps.

Locate a spot on your deck or patio that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Fill planters most of the way with soil, and then loosen herb plants from their containers. Dig small holes to accommodate each plant, and then gently cover the base with more soil. Tamp the dirt down a bit, and water generously.

Voila! Now you’re cooking.

6. Replace deck boards

Photo by rosstang architects

Time: Several hours

Tools: A screwdriver, new deck boards, hammer, galvanized nails or deck screws, nail puller, circular saw, drill/driver, tape measure

“Decks can be unsafe if you have loose, soft, or cracked wood, so check for rot by pushing the end of a screwdriver into each board,” Sassano says.

If the point goes in easily, the piece needs replacing. Before removing the old wood, though, measure it so you know the dimensions for your new pieces.

Remove screws with the drill/driver, or nails with the puller, and then mark new boards for cutting with the saw. Lay new decking pieces in place, and attach with screws or nails to the joist below.

7. Paint the garage floor

Photo by Major D. Clutter

Time: Two days

Tools: A paint roller and extension handle, concrete cleaner, floor sealant, epoxy paste, sandpaper, and epoxy coating

Clean up the look of your garage floor with a chemical-resistant epoxy coating, which comes in multiple colors, suggests Dan Schaeffer, owner of Five Star Painting, in Austin, TX.

Start by applying the concrete cleaner as directed, fill any cracks with epoxy paste and sand away excess when it’s dry. Paint on the sealant, which acts as a primer, and allow it to dry all day. Paint a layer of epoxy coating, let it dry overnight, and then apply a second coat.

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June 8, 2018   No Comments

There’s A ‘Color Of The Year’ For Everyone

Color experts such as The Pantone Color Institute, provide a number of services to companies all over the world to help them learn more about color and how to use it in their businesses. One of the most famous examples of color trending is Pantone’s Color of the Year, which “provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design.”

To remain relevant, manufacturers have to come out with new things. For the home, that could mean that companies use Pantone’s colors in future products, from rug designs to upholstery to paint colors. Color trends also show up in bedding, accessories, and cookware.

The idea is to stimulate change and perhaps get comfortable with a color you might not normally try in your home. In other words, the Color of the Year is a stimulus to spend money. You might not buy the purple couch, but you’ll be tempted to go bolder on something. You’ll try a new set of towels for the bath or buy a set of glasses in some bold shade to set off the dinner table.

There are other colors of the year that are getting plenty of notice.

Sherwin Williams put its 2018 money on “Oceanside,” a bold, sexy teal blue that’s not just for the coasts. You don’t have to live on the water to appreciate its mysterious depths.

Another aggressive choice is Pittsburgh Paints’ “Black Flame,” a smokey hue that connotes drama and sophistication. It’s a good excuse to wean homeowners away from the neutral and safe light greys and whites of the past few years.

Too strong? Then try Pratt & Lambert’s soothing blue “Heron,” or Behr’s blue-tinged green “In the Moment.” These are still a far cry from white, beige or grey.

The only paint company not to go in the direction of blues, greens or greys is Benjamin Moore. Its Color of the Year is a spicy hot red called “Caliente.”

Does the color of the year mean you should run out and buy a purple couch or paint your baby’s room black? No, the color is an inspiration for the year, and may be completely different from the color of the year from the year before and the year to follow. It’s only this year’s inspiration to give you ideas to think about, sort of like runway fashion introduces new silhouettes.

Most products for the home are designed to have a longer use than a year. But, you may see the color and be tempted to try it in a small way or in a more muted tone. A fresh new color looks modern and takes you away from colors that may date your home, like ashes of roses from the 50s, avocado green from the 70s, or Tuscan gold from the 90s.

If there’s one takeaway from the colors of the year, it’s that they give you permission to go bolder. You can still stick to the safety of white, grey or beige, but you might use an eye-catching color on an accent wall or in a throw pillow or in a piece of art. And if you want it in a mixer or crockpot, you can have it.

Think of color as an expression of your personality and the mood you wish to convey — both great places to start when designing and decorating your home.

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May 24, 2018   No Comments

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

If your home is in pretty good shape (i.e. it’s decently updated and not in need of a total overhaul), you might think it’s ready to go on the market as is. But little things you wouldn’t expect can end up being deal breakers. And, when you’ve got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a good look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are balking.

Cords hanging from your mounted TV

This is one of those things that tends to fade into the background in a home we live in every day. But don’t be surprised if new eyes go right to those dangling cords and wonder why you didn’t take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale.

An unkempt yard

So, you had your landscapers out to clean out your flower beds, trim the bushes, plant colorful new blooms and mulch everything. And then, the night before a showing, a storm blew a whole mess of leaves into your yard. Grab that rake and make it a family affair out on the lawn at dawn. You know what they say about first impressions. Buyers likely won’t be forgiving of a messy lawn, and your house may stand out if they can see the effort made to clean it up when the neighbors’ yards are still 15-deep in leaves.

A dingy front door

Again with the first impressions. Your home may look great inside, but if the front door is chipped or faded, or the hardware is worn, your potential buyers may never get past it. This is an easy fix, and one that consistently rates high on the ROI scale.


While homebuyers in general may not mind if animals live in the home they are considering purchasing (unless there are severe allergy issues), they don’t want to see – and, especially, smell – evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the overflowing box of toys and balls. But have you considered the smell? You might not notice it, but first-time visitors likely will.

You don’t have to rehome your pets; Use these tips from petMD to make your home smell pet-free.


Even if you keep a pretty clean home, there may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans or windowsills that are out of reach. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but doing a one-time, super deep clean before your home hits the market is a good way to make sure potential buyers don’t nitpick and find a reason to question the home’s condition.

Poor furniture arrangement

If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea that the way you have your living room laid out could make a difference in whether or not your home sells, remember back to when you saw the home for the first time. Were you picturing your own furniture in the space? That’s what real buyers do, and if they can’t picture how it will work because you have too much stuff in the space or it’s oddly configured – blocking a fireplace or doorway, for instance – you’re keeping them from doing the thing that could make them buy the home.

“Square footage is important to homebuyers, so when you’re selling a house it’s important to maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each room’s dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal,” said U.S. News & World Report. “A home seller can do this by decluttering, lighting up the room and especially by having your furniture strategically placed to show off the square footage. The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room.” You can learn more staging tips for arranging your furniture here.

Junk drawers and crammed cabinets

Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home are likely going to open everything and look everywhere. It’s not snooping (at least, we hope it’s not snooping!) – it’s an interest in how much storage there is in the home. You may be forgiven for one “junk drawer,” but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see the space, not your stuff.

Overfilled closets

The need to showcase the space, not the stuff, goes double for closets. “Whether it’s a hallway coat closet or a master suite walk-in, your home’s closets will have a major big impact on prospective buyers,” said Apartment Therapy. “Box up off-season apparel – or better yet, donate it – and remove extra hangers so yours looks spacious and streamlined.”

Cluttered countertops

Eliminating, or at least cutting down on, clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready, and this is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional mixer and juicer, they’re much more interested in knowing they have ample countertop space for their own stuff.

Written By Jaymi Naciri


May 22, 2018   No Comments