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5 Annuals for the Northeast


5
Pansies
Pansy flowers
Pansy flowers
iStockphoto.com/ngoodman

­It comes as no surprise that pansies are one of the most popular annuals in the Northeastern United States. They're easy to grow, incredibly adaptable and have one of the widest color ranges of any garden annual. Known as a cool weather flower, they're hardy and perfectly suited for Northeastern gardens.

Pansies can grow up to 9 inches (22.86 centimete­r) in height and their bloom may be anywhere from 1 to 4 inches (2.54 to 10.16 centimeter) in size. They have a single bloom with five rounded petals and one of three basic color patterns. The first of these patterns is a single solid color. The second is also a single color, but with black lines spreading out from its center. The third and final color pattern has what's known as a face. This is simply a dark center in the bloom, which may have up to three colors surrounding it. Their color range includes red, yellow, orange, blue, purple, pink, white, lavender, bronze and apricot, just to name a few.

If planning to sow the seeds yourself, it should be done indoors about six to eight weeks before setting them out. Use a soilless germinating mixture with a temperature of about 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5-18.3 degrees Celsius) and an air temperature of around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1-23.8 degrees Celsius). Sow the seeds about 1/8 inch (1/3 centimeter) deep. Water the mixture thoroughly with a mister or fine spray. Be gentle. The pansies will need darkness to germinate. One technique used by experienced gardeners is wrapping the container with plastic and then covering it with damp folded newspaper. It should be checked daily to make sure it isn't drying out and if everything goes according to plan you'll have green shoots in 10 to 20 days. As soon as you do, uncover the container and place it in a cool area with ample light [source: Plant Answers].

For those who prefer instant gratification, you can pick up a flat of pansies at your local nursery in a variety of colors. When choosing, look for plants with a lot of buds and just a few blooms. Pansies will thrive in a garden that receives plenty of morning sun and well draining soil.

Pansies can also add fragrance to your garden. They seem to be most fragrant in the morning or just before nightfall. Yellow and blue pansies are also known for having a stronger aroma. Also keep in mind that the more concentrated they are, the more likely you are to smell their scent.