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The Difference Between Annual and Perennial Plants

the difference between annual and perennial plants


If you are new to gardening you might wonder what is the difference between annual plants and perennial plants. Basically annuals only live for one year, perennials live for two or more years. And we need to mention biannuals, they live for two years. Read on to see the different characteristics of these types of plants and how to use them.


Annual plants live for one year or one season. Since they have a short life span they live life to the fullest, blooming like crazy trying to produce as much seed as possible. We use these super bloomers in containers, mass plantings, and to add pops of color to garden beds. Some of these plants are actually perennial in their native home-they come back year after year-but are “treated as annuals.” These plants naturally live in warm climates where it does not freeze, examples include impatiens, petunias, houseplants, and tropical palms. Some bulbs are also considered annuals, examples include tulips that only bloom one year then need to be lifted.


Perennial plants live for two or more years in their native environment. This includes most trees, shrubs, roses, and weeds of the world. Herbaceous perennials are plants that die back to the ground each winter then return year after year in the spring, examples include peonies, coneflowers, shasta daisies and hosta. Some bulbs are perennials such as ornamental onion. Now this is where things get complicated:  plants that may be perennial in southern Missouri, may not be “hardy” in the St. Louis area. Some perennial plants are tolerant of extreme cold, others are not. Likewise, some perennials can take it hot, others not so much. When selecting perennials it is important to know what plants are considered “hardy perennials” that will grow and return in your “plant zone.” Here at Sugar Creek we have separated the plants into different departments to make your selections easier.


Biennial plants live for two years, producing leaves the first year and flowers and seeds the second year. Some of these plants we use as annuals such as pansies. Others reseed easily and return year after year from seed. These types of plants should be planted two years in a row, you will then always have some of these plants in flower. Examples include some foxglove, money plant and dame’s rocket.





Best Shrubs For St. Louis Missouri Area Gardens

With the vast amounts of shrubs available, making selections can be daunting. We’ve done your homework for you. Over the years we have grown and observed thousands of shrubs here at our St. Louis nursery, and believe these shrubs are some of the best shrubs for St. Louis. The shrubs listed her all possess exceptional qualities, have proven to thrive in the St. Louis area, and come highly recommended. They are easy to grow and make a good start for beginning gardeners.

Some of these shrubs make spectacular displays as single, specimen plants and work well alone in flower beds and containers. Some of these top shrubs have incredible blooming ability, they work fantastic planted in mass, replacing annuals in large beds.

Use these top shrubs in flower beds, as edgers, in containers, and cutting and pollinator gardens. They have proven themselves in the landscape and in test gardens across the county, and most importantly, here in the St. Louis area. This is just a sampling of the many outstanding shrubs available, we’d be delighted to share more with you, please ask. Read on to see a few of the best shrubs for St. Louis area gardens.

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  • 2020 Native Plant Of The Year Slender Mountain Mint

    Native Plant of the Year 2020 Slender Mountain Mint

    A Pollinator Powerhouse

    A profuse blooming Missouri native perennial, Slender Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, explodes with multitudes of white flower clusters in mid to late summer and early fall. Its 2-3′ stems are covered with extremely narrow, almost needle-like leaves. A strong mint-like scent perfumes the air when any part of the plant is crushed. Makes a wonderful, fragrant cut flower. Attractive to butterflies, bees, birds and other pollinators. For a natural mosquito repellent, rub the leaves on your skin. Easy to grow in sunny locations.


    Callirhoe invoculata wincups native plant of the year



    Missouri Native Plants

    Missouri Native Plants




    Missouri Native Plants

    The Missouri native gardening trend continues to gain steam as gardeners discover Missouri native plants many benefits. Adapted to Missouri’s particular and unique climate, Missouri wildflowers easily create luscious gardens overflowing with blossoms. Missouri native plants are tolerant of rapid weather changes, cold snaps, heat waves, drought, and whatever else Mother Nature throws at us.

    See Missouri native plants here >>>






    Welcome to the 2019 Holiday Season


    Abby Lapides Sugar Creek GardensWELCOME to the holiday season. For you we’ve been busy gathering the best plants, decorations and gifts, and now have fresh, beautiful plants and delights available. As the season progresses we’ll be adding even more. You’ll find a beautiful selection of evergreen shrubs, holiday decorations, houseplants, Amaryllis, Christmas Cactus, Italian pottery, along with fun and useful gardening aids and gifts.


    Want to create holiday containers in minutes, easy as can be with our fresh cut evergreen bundles, a drop-in assortment of fresh cut greens, bundled together into a convenient arrangement that you simply pop into your favorite urn or container. See fresh cut evergreen bundles here >>>


    For a wealth of holiday decorating ideas using natural elements attend one of our free classes >>>. Our popular Wendy Conroy will be hosting these sessions. Meet Wendy here >>>


    Happy gardening and happy holidays!

    Abby Lapides