In our age of iPhones and video games it may seem tough to get kids excited about a simple plant. But kids are intuitively fascinated by nature. There’s a simple pleasure kids find indigging, discovering insects and worms, smelling flowers, andtasting vegetables. The challenge is to get them into the garden in the first place. Once engaged, kids realize how much fun a gardn can be, and they may be more open to learning about environment, health, and nutrition. Plus, they get some exercise, too!
That first step is often the hardest. One way to get over thatbump is to pique kids’ curiosity by growing plants with cool features that kids think are fun. These can be plants you and your children grow in the garden together, or ones you grow yourself for your children to “discover” in your backyard.
Sensitive plant — This tropical groundcover is a kid favorite. Also known as the “tickle-me” plant, it has sensitive green, fernlike leaves and produces small “balls” of pink flowersin mid-summer. The plant’s big kid draw is its leaves: when touched gently, they automatically fold closed, then eventually reopen. Often grown as an annual, the plant thrives in full sun on dry soil and is easy to start indoors from seed.
Lambs’ ears — In early summer, this low-growing plant produces one-foot-tall spikes covered with small pink flowers.But its foliage is the main draw for kids. The leaves are covered with a soft, white fuzzy growth that, when touched, feels like a lamb’s ear.
Chocolate peppermint — Mint plants are fun and easy to grow in the garden. They come in a range of flavors, including ginge, lemon, orange, and apple. However, my favorite mint for kids is chocolate peppermint. The leaves are tinged with dark coloring, and if you close your eyes, you can almost taste the chocolate flavor. It’s like eating a peppermint patty!
Ketchup ‘n’ Fries — A great name to go along with a cool plant! This brand-new combination grafts a tomato plant on top of a potato, and they grow together. Kids can pick the fresh tomatoes all summer long and then in the fall, dig the potatoes from the ground. A great way to keep them going to the garden all year long.
Pumpkins — When I was growing up, pumpkins were the plant that got me interested in gardening. Watching the small fruit from early summer grow into a large pumpkin by fall was fascinating to me. Today, with all the funky and miniature pumpkins available, there is bound to be one that will pique your child’s interest. Plus, they are easy to grow!Start with these five plants to getout and enjoy the outdoors with your child this summer!