Plants for Kids - 10 Fun Plants to Get Kids Into the Garden
Gardening with kids is great fun. They love getting in the dirt and discovering all that the garden has to offer. Gardening is a hobby that gets kids outside, away from the electric world of today. It instills a love of nature in them which they will take with them the rest of their lives.
There are thousands of plants and flowers, but the trick is to find ones that are more enticing to kids than others. If the plant does a cool trick or has an interesting texture then kids are sure to be drawn to it and more likely to come outside and start digging.
The most commonly found plants in gardens are considered either annuals or perennials. Depending on your plant hardiness zone, some annuals can behave as perennials and vice versa. When purchasing perennials always check to see if they are appropriate for your zone.
- An Annual is a plant that lives it's entire life during one growing season. All parts of the plant die at the end of the season. New plants emerge from seeds.
- A Perennial is a plant that lives for two or more years. The part of the plant above the ground dies back in the autumn and returns in the spring. Shrubs and trees are also considered perennials.
- The Plant Hardiness Zone is the standard that lets gardeners know what plants will grow in the area that they live in. The map below will let you know what zone you live in.
Here are 10 plants that provide a "wow" factor that is sure to get kids into the garden.
Snapdragons - annual
Snapdragons are a beautiful annual that provide interactive fun for kids. They come in all the colors of the rainbow and both short and tall varieties. Purchase snapdragons from your local nursery or start them from seeds with a little help from your kids. Once they bloom, the fun begins. Just pinch the flower gently and it will open and close like a dragon's mouth. Kids love making this flower talk. Cutting back Snapdragons will keep them blooming all summer long.
Sensitive plant - annual
The Sensitive Plant is always a sure-fire hit with kids, never ceasing to amaze them. Just brush the leaves with your hand and the leaves close up. Wait a little while and they open right back up. This plant is easily grown from seed and makes a great summer project for the entire family.
Giant sunflowers - annual
Sunflowers come in all sizes, with some giants growing up to 20 feet tall in the perfect conditions. They are easy to grow from seed. A fun idea for the summer it to plant two rows of seeds about 5 feet long and 3 feet wide. Your kids will have a sunflower fort by midsummer. For more privacy, plant some lower growing flowers around the outside and kids will spend hot summer days in their little hideaway. At the end of the season, these mammoth beauties provide tasty sunflower seeds for the whole family. Leave the seed heads on and they provide a tasty meal for all sorts of birds.
Strawflowers - annual
Another plant that grows well from seed, kids are fascinated by this flower. Who can't resist touching a strawflower? It makes a perfect addition to any textural garden. With it's crisp "crunchy" texture, it doesn't feel like any other flower and it comes in rich, deep saturated colors. Strawflowers are perfect for drying so have your kids make a bouquet with the blooms. They'll enjoy their creation throughout the years.
Gourds - annual
Kids have to wait a while for the gourds to mature, but once they do, the fun begins. From bird houses to maracas and vases to bowls, gourds can be turned into all sorts of amazing things. Grown from seed, they look almost surreal hanging from their vines.
Venus fly trap - houseplant
At some point in almost every child's life, they have a Venus Fly Trap. A plant that can eat bugs is hard to beat. They can be tough to grow and are generally found as houseplants. Even though it's not considered a garden plant, it's such a favorite for children it had to be a part of this list. Just get a sharp pointed object like a pencil and gently touch the middle of the open trap and watch it clamp shut.
Scented geraniums - annual
Scent is another level of interest in a garden and Scented Geraniums fit the bill when it comes to getting kids into the garden. Varieties include: almond, lemon, mint, and rose. The leaves provide the scent when crushed or bruised. The plants also provide pretty flowers for visual interest. Scented Geraniums can be found in your local nursery and some varieties can be kept indoors over the winter so they can be enjoyed all year round.
Impatiens - annual
Impatiens are lovely to look at, especially in the shade garden. Their fun begins once they have gone to seed. In those last days of summer, have your kids look for the seed pods and pick them. If the seed pods are ready, they pop and the seeds go flying everywhere. Kids love it! An added bonus is that you may get some free impatiens scattered through the garden in the next summer.
Lamb's ear - perennial - zones 4 - 11
With it's soft fuzzy texture, Lamb's Ear is a must when gardening with kids. It's a perennial that will grow in almost any zone and can be picked up at your local nursery. Kids are always drawn to this plant! Not only does it add texture to the garden, it also has a soft silvery color for nice visual interest. Be careful because Lamb's Ear can spread rapidly and if it is happy where it's been planted, it can become a nuisance. With it's habit of spreading out of control, chances are that you can get this plant for free from a friend or neighbor so check around before you buy it.
Nasturtiums - annual
Edible plants are always a great way to get kids into the garden. Even better are edible flowers. Kids may not like the taste, but they'll always come back and try a little nibble when they show off the flowers to their friends. Nasturtiums are easily grown from seeds and come in vibrant yellows, oranges and reds that give your garden a pop. Throw some flowers in a salad for a little something different.
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Next winter, when all of those seed and plant catalogs start to arrive, take time out to look for these 10 plants. They are fun and easy and a sure way to get your kids into the garden and out of the house.
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© 2012 Claudia Mitchell