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Consider Biennial Plants this Spring

Many people are already familiar with perennial and annual plants, but one type they may not have considered is biennial. Biennial plants complete their life cycle in two years, which is unlike annuals that grow and die within one year, and perennials that last more than two years.

Growing Biennial Plants

In the first year, biennial plants produce only roots, stems and leaves. During the colder months, the biennial plant becomes dormant. Most biennial plants require a cold treatment, known as vernalization, before they can flower. During the spring or summer of their second year, they flower and form seeds, then eventually die.

Most biennials can be planted outside from late spring to early summer. One exception is the forget-me-not, which grows quickly and should not be sown until midsummer. If a biennial plant sets flower buds in the first year, pinch the buds off, since allowing them to flower will diminish their second-year bloom.

Benefits of Biennial Plants

While biennial flowers require a little extra patience, this will pay off the following year. Biennial flowers tend to have intense color or fragrance because they only have one season to attract the attention of birds and insects. To do so, they require deep colors, such as hollyhocks or strong fragrances like the rare giant lily.

Biennial Maintenance

Watering is fairly simple, as many biennial plants are accustomed to cooler climates. Make sure to keep the soil wet during longer dry periods. Try to let biennials rest in the winter since the dormant period is vital to their life cycle. You may also want to stagger your biennial garden so you have blooms each year.

Sometimes, biennials are mistaken for perennials because they can reseed themselves. Once you grow a few, you can end up with plants every year.

Popular Biennials

While there are many biennial plants to choose from, some popular ones include:

  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • English Wallflower
  • Evening Primrose
  • Forget-Me-Not
  • Foxglove
  • Hollyhock
  • Pansy
  • Poppy
  • Queen Anne's Lace
  • Sweet William

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