There are many pros and cons to landscaping in Charlotte, NC with perennials and annuals. Especially since our climate boasts beautiful summers and mild winters. The stability that perennials provide, versus the bursting blooms of annuals make them the perfect combination. We understand not wanting to change your landscape every year, but annuals are the perfect way to change up the look without tearing up your entire garden. Perennials provide the foundation of the garden. Perennials also give homeowners the choice to either let them grow very large or limit their size with pruning every year.
Perennials in Landscaping
Convincing folks to try perennials for the first time is pretty easy. When they hear “Perennials will return to your landscape year after year, so you only need to purchase them once,” they’re hooked. If only it were that easy. Anyone who has grown perennials can tell you, it’s a bit more complicated.
To begin with, a perennial is seldom ‘perennial’ in every location. For example delphiniums and lupins thrive in Northern and upper Southern states, but they are cool-weather annuals and can not tolerate the heat found in the southern states. Conversely, Mexican Heather aFour O’Clocks are annuals in the upper and middle South, but perennials in the lower, coastal, and tropical South. Confusing, right?
Secondly, unlike annuals, which grow to a predetermined size and then quietly bow out at the end of the season, perennials endure for years and can continue to grow. Thus, a plant you purchased in a 4-inch pot may eventually grow to be 4 feet tall and wide. So you may soon find that those 10 perennials you planted in a 20-foot-long border have filled up the whole thing, leaving you no room to add anything else.
Another consideration is that few perennials bloom continuously during the Summer. Devoting an entire border to herbaceous (nonwoody) perennials may mean long stretches of mostly foliage for most of the year. For this reason, it’s a good idea to mix annuals with perennials so you’ll always have plenty of beautiful color during the growing season. Now let’s take a look at the benefits of annuals.
Annuals in Landscaping
Unlike perennials, annuals may not return year after year, but they have a number of distinct advantages which is why they continue to gain popularity in Charlotte landscaping. First, they bring instant, showy color to a garden. Second, on average, they bloom for a much longer time than perennials and many bloom nonstop for months on end. There’s also a fantastic array of annuals from which to choose in practically every color. Finally, the fact that annuals die at the end of a growing season means you get the opportunity to try something new. Homeowners find that annuals are super easy to replace in their landscape because they are small, easy to plant and grow rapidly.
Depending on the temperatures they prefer, annuals are classified as either warm-season or cool-season. Warm-season annuals are planted in spring and include such favorites as impatiens, zinnias, marigolds, wax begonias, ageratum, and salvia. Cool-season annuals are planted in fall and among their ranks are pansies, violas, pot marigold, Shirley poppy, larkspur, Sweet William, and flowering cabbage and kale. Petunias can be either warm- or cool-season bloomers, according to where they’re grown. They are summer flowers in most regions, but winter flowers in Florida.
Some cool-weather annuals are really perennials that die when our hot weather begins. Delphiniums, snapdragons, and lupines are good examples. And tropical perennials, such as pentas, Mexican heather, and coleus, become annuals as soon as freezing weather strikes.
There is no limit to the ways you can use annuals. They’re ideal for massing in large, prominent beds for blazing impact or planting in graceful, curving sweeps that tie the garden together. You can spot them throughout the garden in pots, hanging baskets, and window boxes. They’re also perfect for filling the gaps in mixed borders or providing temporary or seasonal color to rose gardens.
For maximum impact and beauty, don’t be stingy when setting out annuals. Try to plant in masses of six or more. Annuals come in inexpensive market packs, making this easy to do. It’s also a good idea to plant in locks of single colors, rather than creating a mish-mash. Exceptions always exist, of course. Mixed bright colors of Shirley poppies, bachelor’s buttons, pastel cosmos and large-flowered zinnias look fabulous.
Planning your flower colors will give you a more beautiful end result. Combining certain warm tones or cool tones looks amazing, and you can always heighten interest by blending flowers of different shapes. For example, try juxtaposing the flat, rounded, daisy-like blooms of common zinnias with the vertical spikes of mealy-cup sage.
Contact Coogan’s Design-Build, our master landscape designer can create a plan outlining how to make the best use of both annuals and perennials.