What Are Annuals?
Have you ever noticed that certain plants only live for one year and then die later? If you’re a gardener, I assure you that you certainly have one of these plants in your garden. They’re called annuals.
Annuals are plants that complete their entire life cycle in one growing season. This means that these plants grow from seeds into sprouts, mature into a full plant, produce their seeds, and die, all within a year.
Some plants complete their lifecycles in a single month, while annuals take a year to accomplish that.
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Characteristics of Annuals
Perennials are plants that live for more than 2 years, and biennial plants take up to two years to complete their lifecycle.
Annual plants are showier compared to the above-mentioned. The reason for that is that they need to attract pollinators more quickly as their lifecycle is much shorter. That is why their flowers are more fragrant and brighter.
Annuals have sweet smells to attract insect pollinators like bees, flies, wasps, beetles, butterflies, and moths. Unlike trees and shrubs, which are perennials or biennials plants and have leafy foliage, annual plants are known for their multicolored blooms to speed up pollination.
Typically, annual plants are planted in the early spring season. As soon as they’re planted, insect pollinator cells begin rapid elongation. This leads to quick growth. The plant reaches its maximum growth quickly, and after that, the hormones such as cytokinins and gibberellins take over.
Cytokinins are a hormone that encourages cell division in plants. Gibberellins are hormones in plants that are responsible for cell elongation, and hence, encourage growth in plants. Together, combined with a few other hormones, these hormones cause the flower to bud and open by late spring or early summer.
Because the blooming time happens in summer, pollination becomes highly convenient. This is because most pollinators are more active in the warmer months. As soon as pollination occurs, whether it’s wind, water, or insect pollination, the plant begins to produce seeds.
During the formation of seeds, many chemical changes occur in plants. These chemical changes indicate to the plant that the life cycle is now complete. This happens in the late fall or early winter. After this, the plant dies itself.
Annual plants complete their whole mission in a single year. They grow up, reproduce, and ensure that the genetic information does not die with the plant.
Summer annuals are the ones we just talked about. They sprout, bloom, reproduce and die, during the summer months. An example of summer annuals is the lawn weed called crabgrass.
Winter annuals germinate in the winter and autumn months. They live through winters, blooming and flowering, and die with the arrival of the spring.
Winter annuals are plants that choose the cool months to bloom and grow. Most annual plants go dormant in the winter months, but winter annuals come to life in the winter months, when the soil is cooler.
Winter annuals are known to be plants that grow close to the ground. This is how they’re safe from the coldest nights by the snow cover. Some examples of winter annuals are chickweed, deadnettle, henbit, and winter cress.
Vegetables That Are Annual
Some vegetables and herbs are also annuals, including beans, squash, basil, lettuce, and cucumbers.
Most perennial vegetables are not hardy enough to withstand freezing temperatures, so they are grown as annuals that continually produce fruits and flowers that are harvested.
Tomato and eggplant plants will get exhausted from all this effort.
The following are examples of some annual flowers that’ll be perfect for your garden. Some of these can also be grown as perennials depending on the zone:
- Angelonia – these are heat and drought-tolerant flowers that’ll last you the whole summer months
- Begonia – these beautiful pink, white, or red flowers are summer annuals that’ll add a pop of color to any space.
- Celosia – these unique flowers come in many colors, and they’re easy to care for!
- Cosmos – these cute flowers will last you the whole summer.
- Dahlias – they’re easy to grow and low maintenance.
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