Past Articles Library | 4 Plants that are Commonly Grown as Annuals but are Really Perennials
While most people feel an annual is a one season plant because of its life cycle and in some situations this is true but not always. Many times a plant is limited to one season due to the environment that it is grown in. This is the case with the four plants below. In USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10 through 11, these plants are perennials but in the rest of the country they are annuals. Having said that though some of the plants listed below can be turned into houseplants during the winter and then brought out again as landscape plants, which is a great way of extending your gardening dollar.
In general, all these plants are readily available in your local garden nursery and easy to grow. So, let’s take a look at these 4 annuals that are really perennials.
Wax Begonia (Semperflorens)
Wax begonias are a flowering plant that many people buy for container plantings and as border plants for landscape design. They can range in height from 6 to 8 inches. The flowers can be white, pink, or red and can also be single or double in nature. To add to the appeal of this plant, the leaves can either be green or bronze. While this plant does very well in full sun, there does exist a rule when it comes to this plant. If the wax begonia has green leaves then it needs to be planted in partial shade because direct sunlight will burn the leaves. On the other hand, the wax begonia with bronze leaves already has a base “tan” and can tolerate direct sunlight without burning.
When it comes to growing this flowering plant, you can propagate them from seed but it will take up to 6 months before they are ready to plant outside. In doing so, most people simply purchase their wax begonias or take cutting from existing plants that are used as houseplants.
As noted, you need to pick the location based on the leaf color. Beyond this requirement, the wax begonia needs a well draining soil that is amended with a good amount of well-seasoned organic matter such as compost or manure. Once that is done, simply plant the wax begonia in a hole that is the same depth as the container and twice the width. Next, tease the roots, place in the hole, fill in around the plant, and water in. Continue to monitor soil moisture and water when needed. Once establish the wax begonia can tolerate some drought conditions. To encourage blooming throughout the summer and into the fall, make sure to remove spent blooms.
Fuchsias are a unique plant that comes in two types. One is that of a small tree or hedge in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10 through 11. The second type is a smaller version that finds a home in hanging baskets. Since there are two different growth habits, this plant’s mature height can range from 1 to 8 feet.
This flowering plant requires a moist soil that is rich in nutrients. It thrives in an environment where it is shaded but keep in mind that this plant is a diva when the weather gets hot and humid.
To keep this annual/perennial flowering plant looking its best, first keep the soil evenly moist but do not overwater. Second, feed your plant once a week with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer that has been cut in half. To encourage a bush nature, prune the plant back. This simple garden task will force the plant to put out side shoots, which will make the plant look thicker. Lastly, remove any spent flowers, which come in pink, white, red, purple, and magenta, to encourage continuous blooming throughout the season.
Looking for a colorful annual that loves partial sun? If the answer is yes then the impatiens is for you. Yes, they can be left outside and grown as an annual in a very limited USDA Plant Hardiness Zones but the best approach is to use them as an annual bedding plant, which can provide a splash of color that ranges from white, pink, yellow, orange, red, and even purple.
This flowering plant requires a well-draining soil that has been amended with a slow-release fertilizer or well-seasoned compost. Beyond that, impatienses need space to keep them from growing too tall. If planted real close together they can reach a height of 30 inches. If spaced 8 to 12 inches apart, you can expect them to grow to a height between 6 and 8 inches. This height range is wonderful for a living landscape border.
The key to keeping this flowering plant looking its best is watering. Never let the soil dry out but do not overwater. Always check the soil moisture level prior to watering.
If you decide to bring in your plant, make sure to take a cutting verses trying to dig up the plant. The same is true if you want to plant your indoor impatiens. They do much better from cuttings.
Geraniums are an old staple for container gardens but they also work as a bedding plant and in hanging baskets. Today, you can find them with blooms that range in color from white, pink, red, lavender, magenta, and rose. With limited care, this plant will provide flowers from spring until it is killed by a killing frost.
When it comes to propagating this flowering plant, it is better to take stem cuttings if you want to move the plant indoors. Repeat the process for plants you want to use outside.
What makes this plant such a valuable landscaping plant is two-fold. As an annual goes, it is not an expensive plant to purchase. Also, since there is a wide range of mature heights, it is very flexible in its landscaping use. The mature height of this plant can span 3 to 24 inches.
This flowering plant prefers full sun but needs some shade in the afternoon. It also needs a well-draining soil that is rich. In doing so, you may want to add some well seasoned compost to the soil prior to planting.
One limiting factor of this plant is soil moisture. It needs an evenly moist soil but not wet. If the soil is too wet, the plant will rot. In doing so, always check the soil moisture before you pull out the watering hose or can.
To keep the plant blooming all season long, make sure to remove any spent flowers.