Kids and dirt go hand in hand. What better way to incorporate a kid’s love for getting grubby than with the education of learning how plants grow. A hands-on investigation of the process of plant growth is also a window of opportunity to discuss how food is grown and how it nourishes their little bodies. You may be educating a future botanist or a master chef; at the very least instilling in the child the values of patience, responsibility, endeavor, and a lifelong interest in healthy eating. It all starts with growing houseplants with children.
Choosing houseplants for kids to grow, versus jumping into gardening outdoors, introduces them to the basics of caring for plants and how they grow on a smaller, more manageable scale. Also, kids, as we all know, often have a short or wandering attention span. Starting kids growing plants indoors will focus their attention.
Additionally, kid-friendly houseplants can be grown year-round and do not require much space, so they can be grown in an apartment, flat, or loft and most are suitable for all ages.
Indoor Plants for Children
You should consider a couple of things when choosing houseplants for kids to grow. Opt for plants that are easy to grow, look interesting, and are tolerant of environmental conditions such as, ahem, lack of water. Succulents and cacti are good choices. Remember, you are the adult, so be sure the plant you choose is age-appropriate; no pairing toddlers with cacti, that’s just an accident waiting to happen.
Spider plants are fun since they easily reproduce by removing the dangling plantlets and popping them into the soil. Since we are talking spiders, carnivorous plants like Venus fly traps are a huge hit when growing houseplants with children.
Growing your own bonsai from a pip or stone saved from fruit is a fascinating adventure. Start a plant from fruit seeds eaten at lunch or grow a pineapple tree from the top of a pineapple. Always a crowd pleaser!
Have your kids force the bulb of a hyacinth, daffodil, or tulip. Let them choose their own container, any narrow opening glass jar. Suspend the bulb over the opening and fill the jar with water to a ¼ inch (0.5 cm.) below the bulb. Soon, roots will begin to develop in the water, then foliage, followed by flowering.
Kids Growing Plants Indoors
The idea of kids growing plants indoors should be fun and creative, not just educational. Children can take cuttings from other houseplants or germinate seeds from outdoor plants. Or purchased seeds or transplanted houseplants can be placed in some good quality compost for houseplants. Once the plant begins to sprout or root, you can explain the different parts of the plant or have them draw the plant in stages of its growth.
Discuss plant care and the necessity for water and food just as their little tummies require. Experiment with different plants and have the kids keep a diary. Talk about the way plants benefit us and improve our lives. Let your child grow a plant as a gift for someone else.
When kids are growing plants indoors, let them choose their own pot (from amongst your selections), decorate it, plant it, select its location, and then tend to the plant’s needs. This is guaranteed fun and once the kids have learned the basics, they are ready to help you plant the spring garden.