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The difference between annuals and perennial wildflowers

A common question we often get asked is “What is the difference between annual and perennial wildflowers?”. Likewise, it is often thought that the term “annuals” means that they will appear again next year because generally that’s what annual means. But this is far from the truth when it comes to wildflowers, and plants in general!

The difference between annuals and perennial wildflowers

So, what do annuals mean when talking about wildflowers?

The difference between annual and perennial wildflowers is quite simple. From the definition of “annual” – "to appear once a year", and this applies directly to wildflowers (and all plants in general!). Annual wildflowers bloom with outstanding beauty and glow vibrantly all season long. Then, come winter, they die, just like all annual plants. On the other hand, perennial wildflowers will come back every spring for many years!

Our video below goes into detail on what to consider when selecting wildflowers, which will help you pick the perfect wildflower mix for your garden:

Do wildflowers come back every year?

Another question we often hear people ask is, "Do wildflowers grow back every year?" and the answer is that it depends. This is because there are two types of wildflowers; perennials are well known for coming back every year but take longer to establish and grow. Annuals appear after 60-80 from when they were sown and typically only have one showing unless you step in and help them reseed.

The colourful joys of annual wildflowers!

Annual wildflowers are "one-hit wonders"

Annuals grow, bloom and die all in the same year. But, you can collect the seeds at the end of the season and replant them yourself - and this extra work will give you another bloom next season.

For these reasons, it is often thought that perennials are the better option. Mainly because they show their faces year after year; on the other hand, they grow slowly and will not bloom in the first year.

Annuals produce bold and colourful blooms

If these extra steps are not for you, you will be pleased to read that annuals are self-seeding anyway - but their self-seeding provides diminishing returns. This means that they will drop some new seeds when they die. Not to mention that they are extremely colourful, and they flower for longer periods than perennials.

Why then, should you even consider perennial wildflowers?

In a nutshell, perennials are lower maintenance, and they return year after year for around 3-5 years. It is worth pointing out that their beauty will return every year with an enchanting density of blooming wildflowers.

Wildflowers are a haven for local wildlife!

At the end of the first year, it's best to leave your perennial wildflower area undisturbed for as long as possible, ideally until early spring. Doing this ensures dead flowers, leaves, and stems will be left behind. This provides a diverse haven for local wildlife, and come spring, your wildflowers will explode with colour and attract butterflies, birds, and bees. This diverse garden environment will continue for many seasons after.

Like annual wildflowers, perennials are also a great food source for bugs and bees. In comparison, the only real drawbacks perennials have are that they do not produce as great a display of colour in the first year, but they will return for many years that follow.

A mix of annual and perennial wildflowers benefits wildlife

There is no denying that a mixture of both annuals and perennials will give you the best wildflower meadow. For this reason, we have five wildflower mixes (annuals and perennials). And we have an annual-only seed mixture for faster-blooming colour.

Our annuals and perennials wildflower seed mixes:

  • Absolutely Annuals: This luxurious mix contains 100% annuals. It offers gorgeous blooms within 60-80 days and brings a showstopping pop of colour to your garden.
  • Bloomin' Marvellous Meadow: A lavish mix of 100% annual and perennial wildflowers, providing a sensational colour-popping display for many seasons.
  • Bees Please: This mix creates a colourful and sweet-smelling meadow that's full of wildflowers to attract bees to your garden.
  • Hi Butterfly: Provides a vibrant, long-lasting display that's brimming with butterflies’ favourite flowers to bring more butterflies to your garden.
  • Shade Showcase: Full of stunning shade-loving wildflowers, offering a vivid meadow in shady spots and is wonderful for local wildlife.
  • Clay Display: Creates a wildflower haven in clay soils, bursting with bright wildflowers that wildlife will love.

We love annual wildflowers for their colours and eye-catching blooms. However, having a balanced mix of annual and perennial wildflowers will bloom vividly every year, enhancing the look of your garden while also benefitting your local wildlife.

The addition of grass seeds in some of our mixes helps expand the diversity in your garden and will encourage nature to flourish in your yard!

If you would like to read more on wildflower meadows and how to create one, you can read detailed guides on our blog.