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Some plants carry out this cycle quickly, whilst others may may longer. Plants can be classified as either annual, biennial, or perennial depending on their life cycle.
Much like their name suggests annuals are plants that perform their entire life cycle from seed to flower to seed within a single year. All this occurs with the growing season (Spring to Autumn) and only the dormant seed bridges the gap between one generation and the next.
Annual plants include many seasonal bedding plants such as marigold, zinnias, and sunflowers as well as many food crops such as wheat, corn, peas, watermelon, beans, lettuce and rice.
Some biennials and perennials are grown as annuals in out climates because they are tender and would not survive the winter.
These plants require two years to complete their life cycle. Biennial grow from seed to form small plants in the first year, overwinter and then grow more vigorous and flower in the second year. Once they have set seed they have completed their cycle and the plant dies.
Example of biennials includes foxgloves, primulas, hollyhocks, Rudbeckia, Dianthus, carrots, onions, cabbage and parsley.
Perennial plants are similar to biennials in that they form small plants in the first year and flower in the second. However unlike biennials they do not die after they set seed but continue to live longer than two years and will flower and set seed for many growing seasons.
Many perennials keep their leaves all year round, although the top section may die back.
Perennials that grow and bloom over the spring, die back in the winter and then return in the spring from their root-stock are known as herbaceous perennials.
Perennials include Alstroemeria, Aster, Euphorbia, Echinacea, Geum, Heuchera, lavender, salvia, sedum, ginger, yarrow, sweet potato, leek, rhubarb and chives.