An annual is a plant that completes its life cycle in a single growing season. That means it germinates from seed, grows stems and leaves, produces flowers, sets seed and dies all in the same season. Some annuals are produced from cuttings and some do not produce seed. Annuals do not survive the winter and must be planted every year, although there are a few exceptions like calendula that seed themselves and grow again the next year. Unlike most perennial flowers, annual flowers generally have long bloom periods, adding vibrant colour to the garden from spring to fall.
Here is a guide to help you choose the best annuals for your property. For tips on transplanting, frost protection, and growing annuals in your garden or in containers, see "Down to Earth" in the May 2011 issue of Downhome.