10 Reasons to Love One-Year Plants

One-year plants are plants that complete their entire life cycle within a year, from seed to mature plant, and then produce new seeds before dying. This means they have a strong drive to grow quickly, flower abundantly, attract pollinators, and produce as many seeds as possible in their short lifespan. With proper care, most of them can grow lush and flower throughout the entire growing season! Some people might find one-year plants less ideal because they need to be replanted every year, but there are many benefits to utilizing these wonderful plants in our gardens!

1.Flower hanging baskets - A beautiful flower basket hung on the patio with blooming flowers throughout the summer is enjoyable for residents, tenants, and passers-by alike, and can be added almost anywhere with ease. One-year plants are a natural choice as they flower almost throughout the entire growing season, grow rapidly, and come in a variety of colors and growth habits. They also make fantastic gifts!


2.Seasonal potted plants - Just like hanging baskets, potted plants and other container forms can be used in almost any space by anyone, but if sturdy containers are used, one can simply replace the plants and reuse them. One-year plants are a great choice, offering us a selection of seasonal themes and allowing us to combine them into any style we desire. This also enables us to start planting cold-loving one-year plants like pansies, primroses, and dwarf snapdragons early in the growing season, and then replace them with heat-loving geraniums, marigolds, or zinnias when the weather becomes too warm for them, keeping flowers all year round.

3.Filling in new plantings - If you have ever beautified a plot of land in your landscape, you know that planting new shrubs, trees, and perennials leaves a lot of empty space for them to grow in the future, which might make the trees look a bit sparse initially. Facing the time it takes for plants to mature, one-year plants can fill these gaps with their colorful beauty! Since they won't be in the garden for more than a year, they serve as excellent fillers and help prevent weeds by occupying the space.

4.Verbena bonariensis, also known as Tall Verbena or Brazilian Verbena - Adding color to landscapes - In established landscapes, there are often gaps between plants and hardscape features unless they are planted densely. These gaps present an opportunity for us to add some extra pops of color amidst the usual unified green and brown backgrounds. While many perennial plants may only flower for a month or two each year, numerous one-year plants will flower from spring all the way to fall.

5.Changing the color palette - One-year plants come in various colors, making them an easy way to update colors strategically throughout the space, or completely change the palette each year if desired. One-year plants are like a gardener's paintbrush, adding highlights, shadows, and colors where needed.

6.Updating themes - There are many garden styles that people love to imitate, ranging from Japanese to Mediterranean, from cottage gardens to modern styles. Each style has a "theme," such as pastel colors for cottage style, bright warm tones with shiny green leaves for tropical style, and silver leaves and drought-tolerant types for Mediterranean style, among others. With one-year plants, you can have some basic foundation plants and change your theme or style each year if you wish! For those with ever-changing decorative tastes, one-year plants offer a flexible adjustment based on the year or season.

7.Pollinator attraction - One-year flowering plants are highly motivated to attract pollinators because they have only one growing season to produce seeds. Their vibrant colors, diverse shapes and sizes, and an array of scents make them essential elements in any garden that aims to attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Planting one-year flowers in the vegetable garden can increase yields by attracting pollinators from afar.

8.Edibility - Many of our favorite vegetables are one-year plants - tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, peppers, melons, etc. - prized for their quick and bountiful yields. In addition to these well-known one-year plants, there are plenty of edible one-year flowers like bachelor's buttons, calendula, marigold, nasturtium, etc. Adding edible flowers to salads or fruit platters can be elegant and whimsical, leaving a lasting impression on guests. Encouraging children to eat fresh foods by adding fresh flowers to their meals or starting their foraging interests from the family garden can also be beneficial.

9.Children - One-year plants have short lifespans, making them an excellent way to teach children about the plant lifecycle! Kids can start their own seeds, watch them germinate and grow, follow them as they flower, produce seeds, and eventually die, leaving their own little plant babies to grow again next spring. It's a science lesson and an introduction to gardening, providing a fun and engaging experience.

10.Cut flowers - A cutting garden is incomplete without a wide variety of one-year flowers, which can be wonderful both in vases and bouquets or when dried. From tall flowers like sunflowers and tobacco to smaller favorites like bachelor's buttons, cockscomb, and verbena bonariensis, there is a perfect cut flower for every corner of the garden.

These are just 10 reasons to love gardening with one-year plants, and there are certainly more that we haven't even thought of! So, get out there and try adding some one-year plants to your space and happy gardening!

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