An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed. Some seedless plants can also be considered annuals even though they do not grow a flower.
In gardening, annual often refers to a plant grown outdoors in the spring and summer and surviving just for one growing season. Many food plants are, or are grown as, annuals, including virtually all domesticated grains. Some perennials and biennials are grown in gardens as annuals for convenience, particularly if they are not considered cold hardy for the local climate. Carrot, celery and parsley are true biennials that are usually grown as annual crops for their edible roots, petioles and leaves, respectively. Tomato, sweet potato and bell pepper are tender perennials usually grown as annuals.
Ornamental annual perennials commonly grown as annuals are impatiens, wax begonia, snapdragon, Pelargonium, coleus and petunia.
One seed-to-seed life cycle for an annual can occur in as little as a month in some species, though most last several months. Oilseed rapa can go from seed-to-seed in about five weeks under a bank of fluorescent lamps in a school classroom. Many desert annuals are therophytes, because their seed-to-seed life cycle is only weeks and they spend most of the year as seeds to survive dry conditions.
Examples of true annuals include corn, wheat, rice, lettuce, peas, watermelon, beans, zinnia and marigold.
Summer annuals sprout, flower, produce seed, and die during the warmer months of the year.
The lawn weed crabgrass is a summer annual.
Winter annuals germinate in autumn or winter, live through the winter, then bloom in winter or spring.
The plants grow and bloom during the cool season when most other plants are dormant or other annuals are in seed form waiting for warmer weather to germinate. Winter annuals die after flowering and setting seed. The seeds germinate in the fall or winter when the soil temperature is cool.
Full article ▸