Gardening in the Northeast poses some challenges to gardeners. The last spring frost may occur into the first part of June and the first fall frost may occur in late August or early September. For tender annuals, this translates to a growing season that may be less than 90 days. Purchasing seedlings from the nursery and setting them out once the danger of frost is past provides color from late spring until fall.
Petunias are favored for hanging baskets and window boxes as they can be planted as soon the danger of frost has passed. When started inside, or purchased from a nursery, they are often in full bloom at planting time. With care given to deadheading spent blooms and providing adequate water, petunias continue to bloom until killed by frost.
Impatiens provide a profusion of color from late spring until frost. Although they are tender annuals and cannot be planted in the Northeast until the danger of frost has passed, their range of color and mounding growth make them ideal for planters, window boxes, hanging baskets or garden borders.
Geraniums add brilliant color and attractive foliage to any planting. They are especially suited for sunny locations like decks, front steps and porch railings. Often grown in combination with other trailing plants, geraniums bloom from late spring until the first killing frost in the fall.
Morning glories bring color to fences and trellises with their trumpet-shaped blooms. Although wild morning glories grow in ditches and along roadsides in the northeast, they are smaller and pure white. Cultivated morning glories come in a variety of colors from striking blue to deep pinks and reds. Although they bloom a bit later, generally in mid to late June, they bloom until fall creating cascading blankets of color.
Marigolds are especially prized for growing amid vegetables as their pungent fragrance repels insects. Available in both dwarf (4 to 6 inch) varieties to towering plants of 4 foot or more, marigolds range in color from white and pale yellow to brilliant shades of orange and fiery red.
Nasturtiums bloom from early summer until frost providing delicate fragrance and heart shaped foliage. The blooms rest atop a slender curved stem holding them above the foliage by and inch or two. Dwarf varieties are ideal for bedding plants or containers while climbing varieties are stunning against a fence or trellis. Available in shades of yellow, orange and reds, nasturtiums have the added benefit of being edible too.