Annual flowers grow for one long season, often into the fall, then die with the onset of freezing weather. With perennials, the above-ground portion of the plant dies back in freezing weather, but re-grows from the base and rootstock the following spring to bloom again. Annuals are a great way to change the look of your garden from year to year, and they tend to have a longer flowering period than perennials.
Popular annual flowers include petunias, marigolds, zinnias and impatiens. If you're looking for something a little more exotic than these traditional bedding plants, try spider flower (cleome), gazania, vinca and lisianthus.
Some annuals are grown for their attractive foliage rather than flowers. Try coleus, Joseph's coat (Alternanthera) or dusty miller.
Add some edible interest to your annual garden with plants like ornamental peppers, flowering cabbage and okra.
Perennials come in an endless array of colors, textures and sizes. Some of the most popular perennials include daylilies, hostas, and peonies. For a spikey show of blue, try blazing star. Or, for a delicate bouquet of yellow, try the coreopsis variety called 'Moonbeam.' For dramatic late-season color, try black-eyed Susan and purple coneflower.
Happily, there's no need to pick one or the other for your garden. Annuals and perennials can be combined in your planting design to reap the best of both. Annuals are hard to beat in terms of showy, season-long color, while perennials will give you the most value for your money. Since the perennial flowering season is usually shorter, make sure to plant different varieties to keep color going through the season. Whichever you choose, you'll have vivid color in your future.