Annual and perennial are common gardening terms that refer to the life cycle of a plant. Annual plants complete their growing cycle in one season. This generally means they germinate, grow, flower, set seed, and die in the same year. Examples of annual plants include lettuce, dill, and spinach.
A perennial plant is one that survives the winter and grows again year after year. Often the leaves die back with frost, but the roots survive and generate new shoots in the spring. Examples of perennial plants (for the Toronto-growing climate) include chives, mint, and strawberries.
These terms can refer to both flowers and vegetables. An easy way to remember annuals are to think of your annual checkup, which happens once each year. Think of perennials as per annum, which means growing and surviving every year.
Cover Image by Jordan Meeter, used under its Creative Commons license.