Annuals, Perennials, and Biennials

Before deciding whether to purchase a plant and how best to plan where to place it, the basic knowledge of how long it lives and how often it blooms is a necessity. What’s the difference between annuals, biennials, and perennials?

What are annuals?  Plants that perform their entire life cycle from seed to flower to seed within a single growing season. All parts of the plant from roots stem and leaves die each year or in other words annually. Only the dormant seed bridges the gap between one generation of the plants and the next. Some edible annuals would be corn, tomatoes, green beans, peas, watermelon, squash, peppers, and cucumbers.


Perennials, on the other hand, come back each year, usually, the top of the plant dies then grows back. Trees and some small plants like orchards come back year after year. If you’re planning on staying on the same land for years, perennials are the way to go. Some perennials are apples, oranges, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, pears, plums, peaches, and all your nut trees.


Biennials are plants that take two years to grow. The first year to establish a root system and some leaves the second to blossom and then die. Some edible biennials are Beets, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Canterbury bells, Carrots, Celery, Hollyhock, Lettuce, Onions, Parsley, Swiss chard, and sweet William. Having a good mixture of all three will give you a very good verity of food for your table.