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Im a beginner so bare with me on this. I wondered how to distinquish between recognising all of the above without having to read the label at the garden centre? Is their a hard and fast rule as to what will be an annual, perenial etc?

And more importantly what the major difference as to why a plant will only last one year wheres as bi - annaul can do another year and so on?

 Excuse spelling

Thank you.





An annual will flower and set seed in the first year-half hardy denotes not frost tolerant, hardy frost tolerant

A biennial will take one year from sowing to flower to set seed -it is usually hardy

A perennial will flower year after year after year-however some are short-lived some are tender,some not.

It is not easy or straightforward-just comes with knowledge and time-I would continue to read the labels or look it up if you are not sure.


I'd like to add don't just go by what the label says, some places sell plants as perennials when they are not hardy or need some care over winter (without giving you the information to look after the plant over winter). However, the internet is a huge resource, and if you look up and learn about your plants and the best way to care for them you can get great enjoyment from watching them year upon year (RHS website is good for giving info on plants).

This site is also great for that, as there are so many posters with so many years of knowledge who love to talk about plants, so don't be afraid to ask any questions you want, in my experience it's a very friendly place.


Thanks guys - it really is a grey area isnt it. I will continue to buy what i like and look up the rest on the internet.

Whats good for winter interest in pots? Hardy and colourful preferebly.

Also Im looking forward to buying my bulbs of which i will plant in september for spring colour. I fancy Orange - any ideas guys?




Alina W

Violas and pansies are good in pots over winter - if it's mild, they'll flower right through.

Orange spring  bulbs - that's harder. But you can get orange daffodils and tulips, it's a case of looking around in the garden centres, which will have their spring bulbs in in the next ten days.



Thank you Alina - i had some violas last winter and considering they are so delicate they endured frost snow and strong winds.

Tulips are a definate in my book. I heard they only flower once - is this true?


CIA, no tulips will flower for years..potentially, but for various reasons ...mice, rotting etc.... Are usually lost. You can dig them up and save but tulips are often cheaply got. I wait til my local garden centre starts clearance sales of bulbs to make room for Xmas trees in early December and buy them then. Many of my tulips do come every year, some don't. Th best known biennials are prob can get them in orange as well as other colours... You will be able to get them soon, autumn, and they are cheap. Don't forget primulas and polyanthus, crocus bulbs, you can get them in orange, and what about winter flowering heathers? They are evergreen. Any garden centre of worth will tell you if a plant is perennial

Thanks Christopher i will seek out the plants youve listed and see if i take a fancy to them.

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