In the plant world, some species have a two year life cycle. They germinate and develop a set of leaves called a rosette the first year. They survive the winter and in the second year, the plants develop a flower, go to seed and die. These plants are called biennials.

Of course, like many things in nature, there are always a few twists in the story. If the plants are under some type of stress such as drought or unusual temperature extremes during the first season, they may "decide" to flower. This is called "bolting" and it is not desirable in the many vegetable crops that are biennials such as cabbages.

However, since flower gardeners like to see flowers, bolting is actually encouraged on ornamental species. So, those biennial foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), you will find many of them blooming during the first season.

 

Our index of plants commonly grown as biennials contains many of those used in the home landscape.

 

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