Do you know the difference between an Annual and a Perennial? What about an Annual that keeps on for another year or two. An Annual that acts like a Perennial?

It’s OK to be confused, you are not alone. In cold places perennials usually bloom for a month or so in spring and then are green the rest of the season, or they go totally dormant in the winter and lose all their leaves.

Here most of our ‘Perennials give us months and months of bloom and they never lose their green leaves.

Annuals, Perennials ‘—California Perennials?  It’s so confusing living in San Diego with our mild winter weather.

Remember that Plant labels are written for all the states including those where it freezes in the winter so Impatiens, Begonias and many other plants will be labeled ‘Annual’


Annual: A plant that grows, blooms and dies in one season/year. Marigolds, Zinnias, Sweet Peas etc.

California Perennials   Here in San Diego many of those “Annual” plants keep on growing. Evelyn’s name for them is: California perennials. They are perennial unless it freezes or until they are just worn out and ugly.

Perennial: A plant that grows for more than one year. Columbines, Gerberas, Lavenders, Succulents,

Bi Annuals: They grow for one year and then bloom the next year and then they die. Foxgloves, Hollyhocks are Bi-annuals. Here in San Diego most nurseries only sell you these plants when they are ready to bloom that year.

Woody Perennial: A plant that grows, blooms and can live for many years.

These are shrubs that are often the foundation plants in your garden. California Natives or other shrubs that you have planted beside your house or along a fence line.  Important plants that grow, bloom, get pruned and keep on growing.   The Yellow Tecoma, California Lilac, Buddleia Butterfly Bush or Asclepsis, the other Monarch Butterfly plant, Oleanders, Hibiscus. You get the picture.

Of Course, all of our trees are woody perennials.