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Sep 10, 2016 3:17 PM CST
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
I saw this when researching Melissa, hoping to find some clues on how folks winterize this plant (no luck), and noted this in the general description. Seems to me an herb/forb is an annual, biennial, or perennial. I suppose if a perennial is not hardy to your zone, you might plant it as an annual (I do that with lemon verbena) but it would still be categorized as a perennial (just not hardy to my zone) . On that basis, can a re-seeding annual be termed 'suitable as a perennial' (which is likewise incorrect)? In the interest of keeping our database as accurate as possible, this struck me as somewhat odd. But perhaps I am missing something?
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Sep 10, 2016 4:00 PM CST
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4b)
Annuals Native Plants and Wildflowers Keeps Horses Dog Lover Daylilies Region: Canadian
Butterflies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Sages Plant Identifier
It's hardy to zone 4 or 5, so shouldn't need winterizing in a protective sense. The database categorizes it as a perennial. Then adds "suitable as an annual" which I would interpret in either of two ways, first that you might plant it as an annual if it's not hardy in your zone, as you mentioned, or alternatively that although it is a perennial it grows well enough in its first season from seed that it has some usefulness in its first year. I don't think one would ever consider a self-seeding annual a perennial unless it is perennial in a warmer climate.
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Sep 10, 2016 4:23 PM CST
Plants Admin
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Region: Ukraine Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis
Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level
Sue is right. The checkmark in that box means that a tender perennial will grow enough in the first year to bloom or display some other desirable attributes before succumbing to cold weather.
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Sep 10, 2016 5:40 PM CST
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
OK. I would never consider a perennial an annual (or a self-seeding annual a perennial), but can vaguely see the reasoning. Minor confusion that just caught my eye. It's of no moment.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
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Sep 10, 2016 6:16 PM CST
Plants Admin
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Region: Ukraine Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis
Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level
Petunias are a good example. They're perennials and they come back reliably in zone 9 and up, but people in the lower zones can and do grow them as annuals.
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Sep 10, 2016 6:36 PM CST
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Bookworm Charter ATP Member Region: California Hummingbirder Orchids Plant Identifier
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It is confusing. Many perennials are considered annuals in the warmer zones that don't get enough winter chill/get winter rains. Box stores rarely get it right, and bulbs are up for grabs. Hilarious! Ideally plants should be listed as perennial in zones ? and annuals in zones ?, but then you factor in micro climates and all is lost.
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Sep 10, 2016 7:48 PM CST
Plants Admin
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Region: Ukraine Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis
Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level
Well, no, because there are more differences between the two than mere hardiness zones. An annual completes its life cycle in one year and doesn't come back in any zone. The weather doesn't magically turn a perennial into an annual, or vice versa.
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Sep 10, 2016 8:37 PM CST
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Bookworm Charter ATP Member Region: California Hummingbirder Orchids Plant Identifier
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
I do understand that. But for some new to the technicalities of gardening, it can be very confusing. Many perennials won't come back in my zone, but are grown as annuals.
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Sep 10, 2016 8:58 PM CST
Plants Admin
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Plant Identifier Region: Nebraska Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Forum moderator Irises Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level
Yes, that is what "suitable as an annual" means. The database isn't claiming that petunias, as just one example, are annuals. They are perennials and are described as such in the database. However, people can (and do) treat them as if they were annuals.

That's why the "suitable as an annual" checkbox is in the USES section of the database, not the LIFE CYCLE section.
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Oct 7, 2016 6:33 PM CST
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
I forget where I saw it, but someone expresses it as: "perennial, often grown as an annual".

And I agree: almost any time you say "perennial" about a plant, it would be nice to have said "perennial in Zones X and warmer".
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Oct 7, 2016 9:30 PM CST
Plants Admin
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Region: Ukraine Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis
Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level
RickCorey said:And I agree: almost any time you say "perennial" about a plant, it would be nice to have said "perennial in Zones X and warmer".


It might be "nice," but it would only perpetuate the misunderstanding. A perennial plant is perennial in every zone. The fact that its life is ended by bad weather does not make it any less a perennial. That's why we have hardiness zones for perennials. There are no hardiness zones for annuals. They aren't coming back in any zone.
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