As the weather warms, working and playing outdoors beckons young and old alike. As the spring begins a new year of growth, so, too, begins an opportunity for new gardeners to grow and bloom. If you have children or know any youngsters who are looking forward to enjoying springtime weather, why not introduce them to gardening?
There’s nothing like watching children discover the miracle of watching plants grow. There is something fantastic about watching a rock-like seed swell, split and send up its first little green shoot, or watching a big orange squash flower balloon at the base and inflate into a big, rounded fruit in just a few days. If you want to capture the imagination of children with the joy of gardening, here are the ten best plants to delight young gardeners.
- Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus): The huge blooms of sunflowers as they turn their round, lion faces to follow the sun are always a hit with the youngest generation. I have to admit to still being fascinated by them!
- Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus): Nasturtiums are colorful, easy to germinate and offer edible peppery-petalled flowers fit for nibbling or to perk up a salad.
- Hens and chicks (Sempervivum): I remember being enchanted by these succulents as their flower-like swirls of leaves (rosettes) gave birth to tiny plantlets and formed whole families. There are varieties in colors and textures to capture the attention of young and old alike.
- Stachys Wood Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina): You can’t find a more super-soft plant than the fuzzy leaves of the Lamb’s Ear. They don’t mind being patted like a kitten — and they won’t run away!
- Sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica): Sensitive plants may not have showy flowers, but leaves instantly fold up when touched. The fast moving leaves are irresistible.
- Radish (Raphanus sativus): Seeds will germinate in only a few days and radishes can be picked in less than a month. Perfect for the impatient young gardener.
- Pumpkin (Curcurbita): These grow very fast. And what child wouldn’t love growing his or her own pumpkins for Halloween?
- Corn (Zea mays): Corn seeds are big, easy to handle and they grow fast. You can even grow popcorn that can be dried and popped.
- Carrots: Nothing’s more fun than digging in the dirt and finding golden treasure! What’s more, carrots are now available in yellows, whites, purples and reds as well as the usual orange.
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita): This is another fast — even invasive — grower. It smells wonderful, and thrives in damp or dry conditions in both sun and shade. There are even chocolate and lime mints.
Look for fast-growing, fun and useful plants that will capture the imaginations of your children and you’ll both enjoy the magical world of gardening this spring.
Photo credits: Jane Gates