Perennials vs Annuals

Georgia on my mind

Is there anywhere more beautiful in springtime than Georgia? Our trees suddenly explode in pink and white tufts of flowers, the sun suddenly lights up our evening sky, and everything seems to come to life again. This is also the time our nurseries will abruptly be overflowing with flowering annuals of every color imaginable. And while these one season plants are gorgeous and provide bright and cheery color, I am here today to defend perennials’ honor. It’s time to show the value of perennials vs annuals.

Perennials vs Annuals: So, what are Annuals?

Annuals, simply put, are plants that must be replanted every year. They last for roughly 1-2 seasons but will never grow again. Annuals are less eco-friendly because they require so many resources to grow like water, fertilizer, and power for grow lights. Using an extensive amount of resources for such a short life cycle is not the most eco-friendly option. They also contribute to unnecessary plastic pollution and transport costs every season almost like vegetables and fruits.

However, the key difference between annuals and fruits and vegetables is that annuals do not contribute to nutrition and are often thrown out after they die.

Perennials vs Annuals: So, why choose Perennial plants?

Perennial plants, on the other hand, are plants that will regrow year after year, often lasting decades. They are truly the unsung hero of southern gardens. They are more sustainable and eco-friendly, less work, more cost effective, and can be just as beautiful and bloom just as long as their annual counterparts.

How are perennial plants more sustainable?

Aren’t all plants good for the environment, perennial or not? The biggest difference is their root system. Because perennials grow year after year, they are able to grow strong root systems making them more drought resistant and help to build up the soil around them. They require less water and, if you choose plants native to your area, require less fertilizer and pesticides as well. Below are some of my favorite, long blooming perennial plants that love our southern heat and humidity.

Examples of Southern Perennial plants for your garden:

Coneflower- Also known as Echinacea, these plants grow gorgeous flowers with a cone-shaped center. They grow back bigger each year and spread naturally. These flowers are major pollinator attractors, which in turn help your other flowers as well. You can find these in shades of white, purple, red, pink, and orange.

Daylilly- As the name implies, these beauties bloom stunning yellow or burgundy flowers that last for one day. The good news is the grow a brand new flower nearly every day during their growing period (May-July). They are also easy to propagate and require very little care.

Salvia- These lovelies bloom violet flowers and grow to be about 2 feet tall. If you deadhead your Salvia plants you can expect blooms all summer.

Black Eyed Susan- Is there anything more southern than a Black Eyed Susan plant? The lovely yellow blooms with flower all summer and benefit from regular deadheading. However, if dead heading isn’t your thing this plant will do just fine without it. Black Eyed Susans grow in full sun and are drought tolerant.

Aster- Aster plants grow daisy-like blooms that come in a variety of shades from purple to blue to pink. There are many varieties of these so be sure to ask for a local variety at your nursery. You can expect blooms from late summer to early fall, making them a great choice for continued color as other plants begin to fade or die back.

Learn more about sustainable gardening.