Plants have evolved annual and perennial life forms as alternative strategies to adapt reproduction and survival to environmental constraints. In isolated situations, such as islands, woody perennials have evolved repeatedly from annual ancestors(1). Although the molecular basis of the rapid evolution of insular woodiness is unknown, the molecular difference between perennials and annuals might be rather small, and a change between these life strategies might not require major genetic innovations(2,3). Developmental regulators can strongly affect evolutionary variation(4) and genes involved in meristem transitions are good candidates for a switch in growth habit. We found that the MADS box proteins SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CONSTANS 1 ( SOC1) and FRUITFULL (FUL) not only control flowering time, but also affect determinacy of all meristems. In addition, downregulation of both proteins established phenotypes common to the lifestyle of perennial plants, suggesting their involvement in the prevention of secondary growth and longevity in annual life forms.