Guide to Planting and Caring for Annuals and Biennials


An annual plant is one whose entire lifecycle, from germination to seed production through to death, takes place within one year. A biennial lives over two growing seasons; they produce leaf growth in their first season, then flower in the following year.

Annuals and biennials are often seen as a quick and cheap way to bring colour into the garden. Although short-lived, many flower freely over several weeks and even months, and can be planned so they create different colour schemes and effects during the season. Whilst these plants are most often used in containers and beds, some climbing or trailing varieties are particularly striking when grown up a support or allowed to sprawl abundantly over a bank.

In this section, we'll take you through everything you'll need to know when working with annuals and biennials, from designing borders and planting, through to dead-heading and collecting their seeds.

How to Sow
Step-by-step guides to sowing annual and biennial seeds indoors and outside.
Planting Out
Discover how to plant out your half-hardy seedlings.
Protecting Young Plants
A look at the supports you can use with young plants and seedlings.
Buying Mature Plants
Choosing annuals and biennials to plant out into beds, borders or containers.
Growing in Containers
Advice on selecting cultivars for pots, tubs, window boxes and hanging baskets.
Planting in Borders & Beds
Find out how to plan colour, texture and seasonal effects in beds and borders with annuals and biennials.
Pinching Out
'Stopping' your young plants can encourage a bushy, even growth.
Find out how to lengthen the flowering period of your plants by dead heading them.
Collecting Seeds
How to collect and store seeds from annuals and biennials.
Routine Care
How to water, feed and support your bed and container grown plants.
Choosing the Right Plant
Learn which annual or biennial plant should be planted in alkaline soils, shade, exposed sites, and other conditions.
The Gardening Year
When to sow and plant annual and biennial plants throughout the year.