Orlando Parents: Teaching Children the Beauty of Gardening

As anyone who loves to spend the day in the garden knows one of the greatest senses of accomplishment can be leading a friend or loved one to find their own personal joy in the art and science of home gardening. This, of course, extends to the children and young adults in our lives. But with so many distractions in today’s modern life how can we best instill our love and passion that comes along with gardening?

Fortunately, the Orlando, Florida climate allows for a year-round growing season of all kinds of engaging plants that provide outdoor visual interest as well as  introducing youngsters to the beauty and gratification that comes with gardening.

Create A Lasting Interest

Get them started early. Young children often want to do everything the adults are doing. Help start their love of the outdoors and all things growing early by bringing them out with you when you garden. Infants and young children will love being in the fresh air and enjoy the sensory stimulation that comes with the outdoors. Let them play in the soil alongside you as you prepare your planting beds or help get them exploring the vibrant colors and smells of the summer blooms and foliage.

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

Learn more than gardening. Creating special tasks for your young ones can help keep them engaged when doing tedious tasks in the garden. Making a game of something as simple as digging holes for new plants or picking off the spent flower heads can teach valuable lessons in fine motor skills as well as the rewards of perseverance.

Orlando Kid Approved Plant List

Citrus & Fruit Trees. Florida is known as the Citrus State for good reason. Why not bring the delicious reward of growing your own sweet treat right on your patio? Choose from the numerous varieties available at your local garden center and pick out a non-porous pot with plenty of drainage holes in the bottom to get started. At home, place your new tree in a sunny spot that you and your children can easily watch for signs of growth. Soon enough your family will be enjoying the benefits of homegrown citrus trees, from the glossy evergreen foliage, intoxicating floral fragrance of the delicate white blooms, and the ultimate payoff: letting your little ones do the picking of fresh fruit from your tree.

Vegetables- A Kid’s New Best Friend. It may be cliche, but getting your kids to eat a full serving of their vegetables might be more common than an Orlando snowstorm in July. However, a vegetable hand-picked from your own garden tastes better than anything you can buy in a store. Coupled with the excitement of planting, watching grow, and the excitement of harvesting, kids are sure to have a new appreciation for their veggies. And here in Florida home gardeners can grow a variety of vegetables all year long. Home gardens are a convenient source for healthy foods and will encourage you and your family to eat more fresh vegetables too. The choices are endless, with vegetables of all sizes, colors, and shapes. If you think that the Florida summer heat and humidity is too intense for growing vegetables, think again. There are a handful of vegetables that will do well here in the summer, including sweet potatoes, southern peas, cherry tomatoes, and okra. Some spring crops like peppers and eggplant may even continue to produce into the summer. As long as the plants are healthy, there’s no need to remove them if they’re still producing fruit. Even fall in Orlando is an excellent time to start a vegetable garden. Try looking for these cool-season vegetables to plant in October including leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and radishes.

A Small Handful of Big Flowers. As adults, we often think of our landscapes and gardens as carefully curated pieces of living art. We place a high value on perfectly formed blooms or the intricate patterning on a delicate stem of foliage. But for children, rows, and rows of beautiful blooms are a tempting treat almost too exciting to resist. If you have little ones that are eager to garden but you fear possible damage to your formal landscape consider creating a designated area for your kids to be able to explore nature in their own backyard. Choose from a few of these Orlando kid-friendly choices and watch your littles’ engagement with nature skyrocket.

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

Sunflowers are probably the most traditional seeds to give kids. They germinate so easily, you can have kids start the seeds indoors to see how fast they sprout, then move seedlings out to the garden.  Kids will stay engaged with the growing process as they grow big and tall. When the season is over, they can harvest the seeds for themselves or watch as the birds come to eat them up! There are so many varieties to pick, from mammoth stalks that grow more than 10 feet high to miniature puffy teddy-bear cultivars. Hit the seed aisle at the garden center to pick your favorite.

Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum spp)

These tough succulents are multitaskers when it comes to having a plant that both adults and kids will love. Super trendy succulents are easy to find in most garden centers and since they propagate by leaf dropping or small cuttings of stems they are a great, inexpensive, way to teach kids about plant growth habits. Being one of the more forgiving plants out there, Hens and Chicks succulent are almost impossible to kill. They love lots of sun or light shade and can be planted in the ground or in a pot. Just be sure to not over water. Kids might even want to get creative and make use of these plants in their miniature or fairy gardens.

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina)

An often overlooked plant that does well in the central Florida area is the Lamb’s Ear. It gets its descriptive name from the iconic lamb’s ear shape and ultra soft, woolly mint green leaves. Adding these low growing plants along a planting bed border will bring an underused color to your planting bed and also offers little fingers a chance to touch the unique leaves. Plus, they bloom from early summer to mid-fall so you can enjoy them for many months.

Have any questions about gardening or lawn care? Visit our Orlando page for more information!

Top Photo by Kyle Ellefson on Unsplash

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!