How To Get Children Interested In Gardening

How To Get Children Interested In Gardening

Encourage your children into gardening with our handy tips

Start by trying to be enthusiastic about the things children love; bugs, gruesome plants and anything where they can get mucky. If you have the space give them a little plot or get some fun containers to plant, such as old wellies. Children are more likely to become engaged with gardening if they are growing something they want to grow not what grown-ups think they should be growing!

What should we plant for children?

Giant sunflowers go down well, especially when they grow higher than the children. A good variety is Russian Giant, but it needs to be grown against a wall or fence as it will require quite a bit of support. It is best grown in the garden as it doesn’t reach its full potential in a pot.

Small children sized vegetables are available as seeds in most garden centres. Cucumbers, radish, cherry tomatoes, carrots, salad potatoes and pumpkins are all good starter vegetables. There are small pumpkins available which can be hollowed out and made into bird feeders or pushed into a hedge for a birdhouse. Large pumpkins can be grown, if you have the space, and carved out at Halloween.

Easy to grow cress

Grow quick germinating seeds, such as cress and micro vegetables, on damp kitchen paper on a sunny windowsill. Peas and beans can also be germinated on damp kitchen paper then transplanted into pots when they have some roots and two leaves.

Strawberries are a good crop to grow as children can pick and eat them straight off the plant, they can be grown either in the garden or in pots. Alpine strawberries are tiny and delicious.

Try growing funky coloured vegetables; purple beans and carrots, yellow beetroot or tomatoes.

Sow an annual flower seed mixture so children can pick the flowers, there are lots of different mixtures available in the garden centre.

Which garden tools do we need for children? 

Go for the child sized proper metal tools not the cheap plastic ones as they soon break and are completely useless. There is a large range in most garden centres. A small hand fork, trowel and hoe are all that’s needed.

Gruesome plants for kids

Venus Flytrap

There is a range of carnivorous plants which a child can grow on a windowsill and tend in winter when there is nothing doing in the garden. These are plants which catch and eat insects. They catch insects by a variety of means:

Snap traps - such as Venus Fly Taps. They snap shut when a fly lands on the leaves.

Pitfall traps - such as Sarracenia and Nepenthes. They have pitchers or large tubes. Insects are attracted to the colour and sweet smell of the plant. They slip on fine hairs or a waxy surface into the pitchers where they are digested.

Flypaper traps - such as the Sundews (Drosera). Insects become stuck to the tiny globules of a gel like substance.

Suction traps - such as Utricularia which has an underwater bladder which sucks in tiny insects.

All these plants evolved to cope with boggy conditions where there are no nutrients in the soil, so always need to be kept damp.

Encourage wildlife into the garden

Garden Spider

Buy a cheap magnifying glass and go bug hunting, when they find bugs they like you can put in plants that the insect likes, or make a bug house. A pile of logs will provide a home for a whole host of bugs. There is quite a large selection of insect houses for sale in most garden centres if you are DIY challenged!

  • Make a hedgehog house.
  • Put in a pole with a bird feeder hanging off it.
  • Plant nectar rich flowers to attract bees.

Make the plot look pretty

  • Make some bunting or flags to hang around the patch.
  • Make a scarecrow.
  • Buy some cheap wooden edging and let the children paint it in bright colours.

Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.