Dragon’s Breath: a Perennial or Annual?

Maroon bloom and striking red foliage make Dragon's Breath a popular choice for container gardening.

But people often get confused about the life cycle of Dragon’s Breath. Normally, it’s classified as an annual plant, but there’s more to it than that. 

Yes, under certain conditions, Dragon’s Breath can be perennial as well, which is termed a tender perennial. So, we are going to shed light on this topic and also other key characteristics of Dragon’s Breath that can assist you in deciding whether to include this plant in your landscape.

A garden bush adorned with vibrant red leaves, reminiscent of Dragon's Breath.

What is Dragon’s Breath Plant?

Dragon’s Breath plant is primarily an annual low-maintenance plant known for its maroon foliage and striking red flowers. Native to Africa, the plant rises well in hot and humid climates, making it suitable for these conditions. 

These plants leave a strong, colorful mark on the garden as an effective container or bedding plant. Added to that, Dragon’s Breath plants are suitable for fresh and dried flower arrangements because they retain their beauty and form over time. These plants also have an extended blooming period, starting in summer and continuing into fall.    

As these plants are tropical African native, they thrive in humid and moderately fertile land. However, the best planting condition for the Dragon’s Breath plant is under full exposure to the sun and sheltered from heavy winds. They can endure dry and drought conditions; the spoil should be well-drained. 

What is Perennial?

Perennials are plants that have a lifespan of more than two years, unlike annual and biennial, which live one and two years of growing season before dying off. Perennial flowers and blooms die during winter; in the subsequent spring, they rejuvenate with little effort and maintenance. While their upper ground level dies off, their rootstock remains intact, helping the plants regrow from the same rootstock each year.

Perennials are a popular choice for many gardens. One specific reason is that once established, they don’t need to be replanted annually like annuals. This makes them low-maintenance. Also, they provide visual interest year after year. 

That’s not to say they will thrive without any attention and minimal care given. Perennials still require watering, fertilization, pest control, pruning, and division over their lifespan. But overall, they tend to be lower maintenance than annual plants.

What is the Difference Between Perennial and Annual?

The fundamental difference between perennial and annual plants lies within their lifecycle. Annuals are short-lived plants and can only sustain one growing year. And they are required to replant in the subsequent season or year after they die. 

Perennial can last many years and maintains a strong, persistent root structure year after year. The above-ground part of perennials may die during winter, but the root system remains unscathed and helps the plants reemerge after the winter. 

In general, perennial flowers, herbs, and plants with non-woody stems usually last 3-5 years before needing division. Some may survive up to 10 years or longer if cared for properly. Examples are daylilies, irises, and hostas.

However, in the cold climate, the annual plants show greater resistance and survive better than perennial plants. Perennial also sustains winter that falls within their climate zone.

Is Dragon’s Breath A Perennial or Annual?

Dragon’s Breath or Celosia is primarily an annual plant by definition, which means it completes its life cycle within a single growing season. Dragon’s Breath cannot withstand cold winters, ending its life cycle in this season. But under certain circumstances, these plants can last and grow for more than one year, which brings us to whether Dragon’s Breath is a perennial.

In regions classified under USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11, where the climate is milder and temperatures rarely drop to freezing or below, Celosia or Dragon’s Breath can behave as a tender perennial. Tender perennials are plants that live for more than one or two years in their suitable hardiness zone but will die if exposed to freezing temperatures or frost.

In short, a Dragon’s Breath is an annual plant in climates where it encounters winter at some point during the year, concluding its life cycle during that season. However, these plants can be considered perennial in some tropical and subtropical climates like Florida, where they normally don’t face harsh winters and can thrive and regrow for more than one growing season. 

How to Grow and Maintain Dragon’s Breath Celosia?

We already know that the Dragon’s Breath can thrive and flourish in a humid and dry climate. These plants love to be under direct sunlight for healthy growth. While they are comparatively easier to maintain and bloom, be sure to supplement them with organic fertilizer at their peak. 

When cultivated in indirect sunlight and potted in a 5.0-inch container, this plant benefits from a measured approach to watering. It is recommended to slightly water regularly, and this is to ensure that the plant receives adequate moisture without overwatering, which can be harmful to many plants. 

You can also put them close to bright, shiny windows if planted indoors. Place them near the windows that receive the most sunlight throughout the day. Because it can not sustain or survive in low light conditions. 

Bear in mind that its striking red foliage and flowers can shine better in beds, borders, and edges, displaying a dense, colorful appearance. This plant also thrives in containers, making it suitable for patio or balcony gardens. 

Moreover, it complements the rustic charm of cottage gardens with its vivid plume-like flowers. You can also use it indoors as it can be cut into fresh or dried flower arrangements and bouquets.

Overall, Dragon’s Breath Celosia’s versatility and low maintenance requirement make it a fantastic choice to beautify a budget-friendly landscape with a beautiful visual impression.


How Tall Does Dragon’s Breath Celosia Normally Grow?

Ans: Dragon’s Breath Celosia can grow as tall as 24 inches. You can expect the plant to be between 20 inches to 24 inches in height. In width, it can generally spread as much as 16 inches. 

What are the Key Care Requirements for Dragon’s Breath Celosia?

Ans: Dragon’s Breath Celosia thrives in full sun, requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. They need consistent watering when young, but once established, they become drought-tolerant. Regular pruning can promote continuous blooming and plant growth.

How can Dragon’s Breath Celosia be Used as a Cut Flower?

Ans: Dragon’s Breath Celosia is used as a cut flower for decorative purposes. Its deep-red, feathery blooms can be combined with other flowers, like marigolds and ornamental grasses, for stunning fall arrangements. 


Dragon’s Breath is an annual plant that sometimes can last longer than expected 1 year. And this happens when the plant can escape harsh winter growing in a climate that favors it. In a tropical climate zone, where the temperature never goes down to zero degrees Celsius, Dragon’s Breath can survive more than 1 year. 

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