Annuals vs. Perennials

A few weeks ago while visiting a friend in Philadelphia, we talked about being homeowners, all the accompanying responsibilities including maintaining the yard. My friend told me the first couple of years, she would go to the local nursery, purchase beautiful plants, and install them in her yard. But after the first year, once Winter had come and gone, she had to buy more plants and install them in her yard. But with the arrival of Winter, those plants died.

My friend realized purchasing new plants every Spring was rather expensive. She raised the matter with her father during a conversation. He advised his daughter, buy perennials, not annuals. She has followed this advice and is pleased with her yard.

Before I purchased my home in 2005, I didn’t really have an appreciation for gardening, was clueless about annuals versus perennials, and basically had a “black” thumb. By becoming a homeowner and determined to be a frugal one, out of necessity I began to learn a thing or two about gardening.

As a rule of thumb, annuals are plants that grow, flower and die in one growing season. Perennials, on the other hand, flower and set seeds in two or more growing seasons.

Those who love annuals are attracted by the bold, beautiful colors that are in bloom throughout the season. Well, from The Money Heifer’s perspective, annuals may be very attractive, but who wants to plant flowers year, after year, after year.

I believe in low maintenance gardening! Perennials fit my philosophy. Despite neglect by me during the first couple of years of owning my home, the perennials installed by the previous owner – Hostas, Hydrangea, “Hens-and-Chickens” – re-emerge every year.

I consider perennials good value. Yes, you pay more upfront at the time of purchase, but the value is in the dividend – these plants generally live many years. One can buy perennials over several years and have an exquisite looking garden (and you don’t have to recall what was located where like those who landscape with annuals).

On Saturday I went to a local nursery because I had earned “discounted” bucks from purchases earlier this year. I walked out of the store purchasing 6 perennials for a total of $30.60.

I have some areas around the side of my house that are partial shade & partial sun. The worst part about these areas – the weeds fill in the spaces. My solution – buy perennials to fill in the spaces and crowd out the weeds. I purchased 3 Hostas and 3 Ferns. I never considered Ferns before but they have indeed added some elegance to an otherwise shady and weedy area (particularly the Ostrich Fern).

Let me conclude that although I am a “perennial gal,” I do like certain annuals – the edible kind: cucumbers, watermelon, peppers, sweet potato, tomatoes. I’m rewarded every year when I plant these annuals 🙂


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