One of the greatest trials for gardening devotees is garden plant identification. This comes to an as little surprise, especially when considering there are over 375,000 known species of plants in existence, with more and more being discovered on a daily basis.
Thankfully there is an abundance of apps and resources available, all of which promise to help budding gardeners in the quest for garden plant identification when it comes to researching new and existing plants.
We’ve listed a number of species below, all of which will help to identify the plants, vegetables, and shrubs in your outdoor spaces.
Annual plants tend to boast a life span of around a year. They often grow from seed, they will then bloom, produce their own seeds, and wilt – all of this takes place in the one growing season.
Annual plants are often more sturdy than others and therefore thrive in colder temperatures, which makes them a great option for gardeners looking for shrubs and plants to place outdoors.
Half-hardy annuals on the other hand succumb to cooler temperatures and are at risk from frost. With this in mind, when planting these species, it’s important to ensure they have protection.
Annuals are a great option for minimalistic gardens that require an instant injection of colour, particularly for those wishing to add a splash of hue to beds, borders, and hanging baskets. For best results and to add interest to any outdoor space, plant them every spring. Traditional annual plants include the likes of peas, maize, petunias, marigolds, and zinnias.
When it comes to garden plant identification, annual plants are often the ones that can be identified first, especially if you’re trying to identify them in the height of the summer season when they are all in bloom.
Many gardeners see annuals as a go-to solution for an abundance of garden needs. From filling empty spots in flowerbeds to ensuring early-blooms, annuals are the perfect choice for the likes of a container garden. They’re also a great choice if you wish to add colour to your window boxes.
In addition to this, there are an array of annuals that thrive in both sunny and shady areas – meaning there is something to suit all tastes and spaces. Using the likes of a plant encyclopedia will help you to narrow down the best annual plants and flowers for your particular growing environment.
There is an assortment of colours, foliage, and texture options to choose from, some of which include: African Daisies, African Marigolds, Ageratums, Amaranthus, Angel’s Trumpet, Annual Phlox, Annual Statice, and Annual Toadflax to name but a few.
A biennial plant boasts a life expectancy of around two years. These plants tend to enter a period of dormancy when the colder weather strikes. Both perennial plants and annual plants are more common than biennial plants.
From a garden plant identification perspective, vegetables are often biennial, with common variants including the likes of lettuce, spinach, and fennel.
The majority of biennials are grown for food alone and last for just one year. Biennial flowers, on the other hand, tend to last for around two years. Common variants include the likes of Canterbury bells and foxgloves.
Biennial plant growth starts with seeds, which produce a root structure, stems, and leaves (they also produce food storage organs). This all takes place during the initial growing season.
In addition to this, a smaller stem and low basal rosette of leaves grow and remain through the winter. During the biennial’s second season, the growth is finalized with the introduction of seeds, fruit, and flowers. This is when the stem of the biennial will lengthen or ‘bolt’. Post the second season, the majority of biennials tend to reseed and then the plant will usually die.
Certain species of biennials necessitate vernalization (cold treatment) prior to flowering. New blooms can also be brought on by gibberellins (plant hormones) – this is however rare in garden settings. When vernalization takes place, a biennial plant usually completes its entire life cycle in one very short growing season, from germination to seed production.
This process usually takes an impressive three to four months, as opposed to two years. This tends to only happen to flower or vegetable seedlings that have been exposed to cold temperatures prior to being placed in the garden.
Asides from cool temperatures, extremes such as drought can also lower the biennial’s life expectancy, by squeezing two seasons into just a year.
The word perennial is used to define herbaceous plants and shrubs, which boast an extremely long life span. The majority of perennial plants last for two or more years and produce blooms every year.
Certain species in the perennial family can last for an impressive five years. They provide flowers in our gardens year after year, adding interest and colour to the likes of mixed borders, plant pots, and flower beds. Plant them together to create herbaceous borders that peak in summer and early autumn.
These plants are popular garden plants as they can provide colour throughout much of the year (with the exception being during the height of winter). However, in order to achieve this, both careful planning and planting must be taken into consideration.
For best results plant between October and April in a location that receives sun, part shade, or full shade. They are easy to grow and can reach a height of two and a half meters.
Perennials require little maintenance or pruning. However, it is important to cut them back if they look like they are dying. For best results, cut the stems off at ground level either in autumn or late winter.
Additionally, if the plant looks like it is tilting, it’s wise to trim back – this will create a stockier shrub.
To produce more of these plants, you can raise them from cuttings; including both softwood and semi-ripe. Others can be propagated raised from seed.
There are thousands of perennials to choose from. With this in mind, there is a perennial to suit almost all locations. It’s extremely important to pick the right one for the environment you intend to place it in if you wish for it to thrive.
If you’re looking to identify your garden plants, traditional perennial plants include dianthus, geraniums, helenium, phlox, and tomatoes.
Plant Care Guides
When growing any of the above plants, regardless of whether they are annual, biennial, or perennial, it’s important to know how to take care of them – especially if you want them to thrive.
Not all plants require the same care, which is why it’s important to do your research! For example, certain species will require more water and sunlight, while others prefer the shade and require a sheltered location to grow in.
Garden Plant Identification Guides
Identifying every single plant in your garden isn’t the easiest of tasks, even if you’re a connoisseur, which is why it’s important to have a number of guides to hand. These will help you to ensure each and every plant in your garden is covered! From plant databases to wildflower glossaries and apps – there are a number of great resources available.
The Royal Horticultural Society has a useful tool where you can search for plant names or highlight attributes to discover what you have in your garden.
Similarly, there are an array of plant guides available, all of which vary in content. Some will feature tips on vegetable gardening, such as how to start a vegetable patch or tips on when to plant the right vegetables in each season.
Meanwhile, others will help you to grow an organic garden and will cover topics such as how to avoid using chemicals and pesticides, how to ensure good soil health, and how to grow organic crops.