annual, plant that germinates from seed, blossoms, produces seed, and dies within one year. Annuals propagate themselves by seed only, unlike many biennials and perennials. They are thus especially suited to environments that have a short growing season. Cultivated annuals are usually considered to be of three general types: tender, half-hardy, and hardy. Tender and half-hardy annuals do not mature and blossom in one ordinary temperate growing season unless they are started early under glass and are set outdoors as young plants. Hardy annuals are usually sown where they are expected to bloom. Quite often they reseed themselves year after year. Blooming is prolonged by cutting the flowers before the seeds can form. Typical annual flowers are cosmos, larkspur, petunia, and zinnia; annual vegetables include corn, tomatoes, and wheat.
See H. G. W. Fogg, Dictionary of Annual Plants (new ed. 1972).