One of the key aspects to planting a successful ornamental garden is knowing the difference between annual and perennial plants. Homeowners often return from the garden center with carloads of flowering plants that look good at the time but fail to perform as expected after planting. This is usually due to lack of knowledge on the part of novice gardeners rather than on unhealthy plants. Ornamental plants can be expensive, and creating and maintaining an attractive outdoor environment should be considered an investment in the market value of the house as well as in the homeowner’s quality of life.
Annual plants begin and end their lifestyle in one season. They usually begin blooming in late spring or early summer, and with proper care, they’ll put on a flower show until the first serious frost of autumn. Deadheading, which is the process of removing spent flowers from the plants, should be practiced on annuals in order to keep them generating blossoms. If too many blooms are allowed to set seed, the plant believes that it’s accomplished its mission on Earth and will die shortly afterward.
Annual plants are great for hanging baskets, colorful accents in patio and balcony containers and interspersed in garden areas to provide long lasting flowers. Popular annuals include cosmos, lobellia, petunias, impatiens, marigolds, African daisies, sunflowers and sweet alyssum.
Perennial plants are the garden power-performers that regularly return on a yearly basis. Although their bloom time is usually for only several weeks rather than the entire season, their quality and special characteristics makes their fleeting appearance worth including in the home landscape. Invaluable in borders and often used as accent plants, perennials get better every year with proper plant care practices. On average, perennials need to be divided every two to three years and need mulching during the winter months in cold climate areas.
Quality ornamental gardens contain both annuals and perennials. Homeowners can easily enhance their outdoor ambiance by creating gardens using a variety of flowering plants.