Some summer annuals can survive winter.

So many annuals are actually perennials. They just get dug and replaced because they are not pretty enough during their off season. For warm season annuals, winter is the off season. For cool season annuals, summer is the off season. However, if left alone, many annuals that are actually perennials go dormant so that they can survive through their off season to regenerate and perform again for another season, or several seasons

Cyclamen and various primroses are cool season annuals that are in season now. Cyclamen will go dormant and defoliate as the weather gets warm in summer. Primroses do not defoliate, but get rather runty through warm weather. If planted with other light duty warm season perennials that take over for them, no one notices. For example, primroses are colorful enough now to distract from tired fleabane. By the time primroses fade, the fleabane takes over.

Chrysanthemums are among the flashiest of perennial annuals, but also have a short season. They typically get planted while blooming in autumn, but finish their bloom cycle before winter. After all the rain and cool weather . . . and then a bit of warm weather, some are already dying back to the ground; but closer examination might reveal new growth already emerging from the roots!

Nasturtiums can obscure regenerating chrysanthemums nicely. If the frost sets them back, they recovery quickly. They will bloom more colorfully by spring, and continue until summer gets too warm. By that time, the chrysanthemums should be filling out nicely to bloom by autumn. As the chrysanthemums finish, the nasturtiums will have sown their seeds, so that the process can start over again. Neither chrysanthemum nor nasturtium need to be removed while out of season. They only need to be pruned back and groomed accordingly.

Coleus, impatiens, fibrous begonias and maybe even polka dot plant that were only moderately damaged by frost might be salvageable if they can stay put long enough. That is the advantage of growing them in pots with other small perennials that will cover for them when they die back or need to be pruned back.


10 thoughts on “Some Annuals Are Not Annual

  1. That is a great way to garden and save money and time by not constantly replanting. I also found in my climate that houseplants can become outside perennials. I planted some outside that were dying or had broken off and they multiplied all over my wooded area. It turns out that they could take our freezes.

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  2. GREAT POST! It depends on where you live, too. There is a lot of difference between what I can grow, when and how long, from here in zone 6 and when I lived in Mississippi in zone 8b. Thanks for sharing! You always have great and informative posts! Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.
      My articles are written more specifically for Zone 9 (both a and b), so, of course, include information that is not accurate for Zone 6. Even in Zone 9, the climates here are very different from 400 miles to the south.

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  3. You are right that many “annuals” can be saved one way or another to grow year after year. Actually, it’s odd that there are plants that can be grown from seed that are perennial in their native range but behave as annuals further north.

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    1. When I was a kid, I learned Cyclamen persicum as a perennial. It still frustrates me that clients spend so much money on them, and enjoy them in the garden so briefly, only to discard them before their season is over. Once they get established as perennials, they are only dormant through summer, so bloom, although sporadically, for a longer season.

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