Battle of the plants

This information is from Master Gardeners Claire Smith and Deb Walser:

 Annuals or Perennials?  Perennials or Annuals?  It’s a question asked every spring.  I so much enjoy the zinnias and impatiens and petunias that flower so easily and beautifully all summer.  But, when I shop in the spring, do I want to pay for those annuals year after year or do I pay a little more and have perennials, those wonderful plants that sleep all winter and emerge with the warmth of spring year after year, almost all by themselves?

Now there is an advantage to annuals:  if you love the plant but dislike its location in your garden there’s no problem because it’s not going to come up next year anyway. You can buy another one in the spring and plant it elsewhere.  Perennials can be transplanted and moved, but just not as easily. 

Master Gardener, Deb Walser has this to say about Annual Flowers vs. Perennial Flowers: 

         Annual flowers need to be planted every year.  They may require continuous deadheading (removal of old flowers) to look their best.  Some annuals are self cleaning and don’t need to be deadheaded.  Most should not be planted before May 10 (Cedar Rapids predicted last frost date).  Planting before May 10 may result in freezing (death) and replacement of the plant after May 10.  They provide continuous color for most of the summer.  

        Perennial flowers are planted once. They, too, require some deadheading. Most can be planted at any time of the year. Thinning may be necessary after 3-4 years.  Different varieties bloom at different times of the summer.  A good design for beds and borders should include varieties that bloom spring, early summer, mid summer, late summer and fall for continuous color.

          It can be expensive to replant large areas each year with annuals.  Although the cost of perennials is more initially, you will only have to plant them once (God-willing).  A perennial garden supplemented with annuals is the best of both worlds.  

         Stay tuned: the Linn County Master Gardeners are planning a Garden Walk this summer.  The event is still in the planning stages, but will be a wonderful opportunity to visit several gardens with a variety of plants, flowers and shrubs and speak oneonone with Master Gardeners.  Details will follow later about this great opportunity  

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