Sometimes children and adults want the same thing -- plants that are easy to grow, quick to reach maturity and add interest to a garden. The benefits of working with your children in the garden are unsurpassed. You get to spend time together, you give your child fresh air and sunshine, and you foster an appreciation for the outdoors in your child without having to give a lecture. Help with planting and watering chores is a bonus feature.
Easy plants are those that are not subject to pests and diseases that can decimate them overnight and those that aren't fussy about their soil or sunlight. Two annuals make good choices for gardening with kids. Giant sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) fall into those categories, and their huge flowers give lots of gardening satisfaction. Fragrant sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are interesting to watch twine up a trellis and make nice cutting flowers.
If you have a picky eater in your house, growing annual vegetables together each summer may be one way to encourage an interest in food. Cherry tomatoes (Lycopericon esculentum) are fun to eat, quick to ripen and range from raisin-size to the size of large marbles. Radishes (Raphanus sativus), in all colors and interesting shapes, go from seeds to table as soon as three weeks after sowing seeds.
A Butterfly Garden
Having butterflies flitting around your plants is a sure way to enchant your child. Possible plants include feathery "Ostrich Plume" false spirea (Astilbe “Straussenfeder" "Ostrich Plume") for USDA zones 4 through 8, easy-to-grow and cheerful annual pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), and the exotic-sounding and fragrant flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata), a tender perennial grown as an annual everywhere but in USDA zones 10 through 11, where it is winter-hardy.
Bog and Water Garden Plants
All you need is a container at least 18 inches in diameter to create a water or bog garden. Hardy water lilies, such as “Sunny Pink,” (Nymphae “Sunny Pink”) for a water garden just look exotic; they thrive in USDA zones 4 through 10. Bog plants include the dramatic 3-foot leaves of taro, also called elephant's ear (Colocasia esculenta), which grow in USDA zones 8 through 10.
- Thompson & Morgan: Top 10 Easy-to-Grow Flower Plants and Seeds for Beginners
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Helianthus Annuus
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Lathyrus Odoratus
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Tomatoes
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Raphanus Sativus
- New Sunset Western Garden Book; Kathleen Norris Brenzel; 2012
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Astilbe "Straussenfeder" "Ostrich Plume"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Calendula Officinalis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Nicotiana Alata
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Nymphaea “Sunny Pink”
- Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images