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Annuals, Perennials, and Biennials: How Are They Different?

Written by the MasterClass staff

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

Temperature is the ultimate arbiter of plant life. The gardening season begins in early spring as frosty nights dissipate and plants sense that it is safe to send out tender new shoots. In early summer when full sun is plentiful, there’s an eruption of growth—of flowering and fruiting. But when fall and winter arrive and temperatures go below freezing, plants cease to grow. Annual plants shrivel up and die in the winter, perennials pull all of their energy and resources inward and prepare for the dormant season, and biennials go dormant just once before completing their life cycle.