Choosing houseplants for children

publication date: Oct 31, 2009
author/source: Sarah Holland
Many nurseries and primary schools have a "class plant" for children to care for, which helps give them a sense of responsibility, an understanding of nature  and a feeling of achievement when they make the plant grow or flower.
Having plants in the home is a great way to get your child interested in science, nature, and interacting with other life.

Small children
gerberaBabies and toddlers respond well to brightly coloured flowering plants. Florist friends who've had babies have found their child's first words are things like "gerbera" or "purple"! Infants register colour and shape so it's a great way to communicate with your child.

Plants that tiny tots will like are gerbera, chysanthemum and herbs. Plants with bright flowers and strong shapes work best. You can show them how to water the plants, and point our when the buds open.

School age
Almost everyone remembers growing sunflowers at primary school and seeing whose plant grew the tallest. Children at this age are interested in how things work, including how things grow.

AmaryllisAmaryllis and indoor potted tulips,daffodils hyacinths and are perfect for this age group, as they grow from a bulb very rapidly, so much so that you can spot differences in growth every day, keeping the project interesting and fun.

Amaryllis flowers open so dramatically and suddenly, and their blooms are so vivid and stunning, that it's a totally unexpected sight  - a great topic for story writing in school.

Plants with attitude

Venus fly tryAs children get older many are fascinated by carnivorous plants, which catch insects, receiving their nutrition from their prey.

Venus flytraps
with their sticky, spiny trap give a very visual treat, as the traps will close up before your eyes when a fly lands on the pad. The traps stay closed for several days, leaving the shrivelled remains of their prey for all to see when they open up again.

Pitcher plants(nepenthes) are fantastically visual, with bulbous, hanging chambers that insects fall down and get trapped in. Sarracenia is our home-grown European version, with tall, green chambers that stand erect, with a flap on top to stop insects crawling out again. The plants have their own form of stomach acid in these chambers, that digests the insects slowly.

Pitcher plants and Venus flytraps like to be kept in a bowl that's always full of rainwater – in the wild they grow in bog land, so keeping their pots immersed will replicate this perfectly.

Caring for pot plants
Water once a week or so, when the soil is dry to the touch. Don't let their soil get too wet  – otherwise  they can drown.

When choosing plants for your children you can find hints, advice, and ideas at

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