Plant Plain Speaking

The Millbrook guide to basic types of plants

If you are a new gardener buying plants can be daunting to say the least. Where do you put them? What soil do they like? When will they flower? And to make life even more confusing will they last for just one season or reappear year after year?

Different plants are described in different ways – here’s the Millbrook quick and easy guide to some basic types of plants…

Annuals are plants grown from seed, that flower and die within the same year. There are two main types of annuals:

Hardy annuals – they’re called hardy because they are fairly robust and can spend their whole life outdoors and they can be sown directly where they are going to flower.

Half-hardy annuals – these guys aren’t so tough and won’t germinate from seed in cold conditions, so start them off in a greenhouse or windowsill. Make sure you don’t plant them outside until the risk of frost has passed.

Biennials are raised from seed one year for flowering the next. Most are hardy and are used as bedding plants.

Bedding Plants
Bedding plants provide a flurry of colourful flowers or foliage for a few months and are suitable for borders or containers. Mainly used in the Spring and Summer, they are lifted and discarded after flowering.


Perennials are plants that live for more than two years. There are two main types of perennials:Hardy perennials are generally found in herbaceous borders – they die down after flowering, remain dormant over the Winter and then throw up new stems and leaves in the Spring.Half-hardy perennials don’t like the cold and will need some protection over the Winter months. In fact many people treat half-hardy perennials as annuals.If you would like any further advice about different types of plants, our staff will be happy to help you