Getting children interested in growing plants is a great way to teach them about nature and science. They will be able to see the growing process of a plant when it emerges from the seed and closely follow the different stages of a plants development. As plants are living things, it also helps them develop a nurturing side. But, the trouble is as many of us know, children can easily become bored and will quickly lose interest in something if ‘nothing’s happening’, so it’s important to make their gardening experience a positive one. By using plants that are quick and easy to grow will help curb their impatience and keep them interested.
The following plants are quite easy to grow and will provide some interest for impatient little minds.
‘Sensitive plant’ or the ‘tickle me plant’ (Mimosa pudica)
The Mimosa is a great plant to grow and a constant source of fascination for kids (and adults) and will never cease to amaze them. The leaves actually move and fold up when touched then springs back open 10-15 minutes later. They even go to ‘sleep’ at night and ‘wake up’ in the morning. No one is really sure why! Mimosa develops green, bipinnate leaves with small oblong-shaped leaflets. Both surfaces of leaves and their margins are covered with miniature hairs. Mimosa produces pink or purple globular flower heads with a fluffy appearance that consist of large number of individual flowers. Kids love to touch, so will have great fun with this plant.
‘Lambs ear’ plant (Stachys byzantine)
This is another favourite with kids as they love to touch the soft velvety, silvery-green leaves that resemble the ears of a lamb. It is grown more for its foliage than its flowers, although the flowers are a lovely purplish pink colour. The leaves contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties so when a child falls and scrapes their knee, as so often happens, so if you rub the graze with the soft leaves will absorb the blood.
‘French marigold’ (Tagetes patula)
Marigolds are ideal for kids as they are easy to grow and germinate quickly. A must if you want to keep a child interested! Children love colour, and these are available in a variety of striking colours, including, yellow, orange, red, mixed colours and white. The flowers have a daisy-like or double, carnation-like flower heads and are produced singly or in clusters.
Most herbs are a great ‘first plant’ for kids to grow as they grow quite easily and are really fragrant for inquisitive little noses. If your children love cooking, imagine how excited they will be, adding what they have grown into their cooking. You could even bring the herbs to life by naming them; 'Bashful Basil', 'Darcy Parsley' or 'Alexander Coriander' and write stories of their life and adventures. Kids love making up stories and will be more inclined to keep the interest going.
All these plants can be grown indoors, so even if you don’t have a garden or any outside space your kids can still grow their own plants. Just a sunny windowsill is all you need. If your kids have any names for their plants, we would love to hear and share them.