Our Top 5 Flowers for Kids to Grow From Seed
My partner and I have seven kids between us. Yes, you read that right, SEVEN. We're a real modern-day Brady Bunch! While my two are grown up at ages 17 and 21, her two youngest are just 3 and 7 years old. Being around little kids again has reminded me of the following truths:
a) Kids are super curious about the world and how stuff works.
b) Little kids like getting dirty. Or are at least good at getting dirty. Let's be real; kids are dirt magnets.
c) Kids love picking flowers to give to their moms.
When my oldest daughter, Ava, was about 3, I let her help me plant petunia seedlings in the garden. She carefully dug perfect little holes in the garden bed, spacing plants evenly and precisely distanced apart. I'm sure you have treasured memories like this if you're a parent. As a parent, there are few things as heartwarming as being handed a bunch of dandelions or other flowers by small, sticky fingers. Kids, like adults, love pretty flowers and gifting them to the people they love most.
This year, we'll be planting with the little kids so that they can witness the wonder of seeds germinating and growing into something beautiful. Here are our picks for growing with the kids this year:
Zinnia: We already grow Zinnia on the farm for cut flowers, so many of these seeds are hanging around. It only takes about two months until you get your first flowers and, when they start to appear, blooms are bright and colourful. The great thing about Zinnia is that they germinate very quickly – usually in about 4-7 days – so kids don't have to wait long for the gratification of seeing seeds turning into seedlings. Zinnia plants grow quickly too, and can get super tall (maybe even taller than your little one!).
Sunflowers: Kids and sunflowers are a natural mix. Their huge blooms are sunny and cheerful. Try growing giant varieties; it's exciting for kids to watch something they've planted grow taller than their parents! You can harvest and eat the seeds or watch birds flock to your sunflower blooms for a snack. Like Zinnia, Sunflowers germinate and grow quickly, taking about a week before little seeds produce tiny green shoots. Try growing different colours and sizes of Sunflower to make harvest time more interesting. You can direct seed Sunflowers, but your local birds might think you're just putting out a buffet; best to start seeds inside to give your plants a fighting chance!
Sweet Peas: There is something magical about watching Sweet Peas crawl up a trellis. Your kids might wonder how this plant seems to "know" where the support is as it grows higher. While you're waiting for your seedlings to sprout, show them this incredible time-lapse video of growing pea plants taken over 55 days. Your kids will see how the plant's delicate tendrils slowly move in a circular motion until they find a structure to latch on to. Once they begin to bloom, Sweet Peas are gloriously fragrant and make lovely single-flower bouquets.
Marigold: Want something fast-growing that practically thrives on neglect? Plant Marigolds! These plants go from seed to bloom in just eight weeks. These flowers are TOUGH. Marigolds can practically grow on pavement and can take a lot of heat. They will not mind if your kids forget to water them, and they can grow in less than ideal soil. A side bonus of growing Marigolds: they attract ladybugs and other beneficial insects to the garden, keeping harmful insects like aphids away.
Dahlias: These are a fun departure from growing from seeds. Growing Dahlias from tubers is incredibly simple: plant tubers in a large pot of damp soil and wait. Soon, your tubers will send up shoots that grow into massive, tall plants. Dahlias are prolific bloomers and, depending on the type you select, blooms can be up to 12" across. Pick dinner plate varieties in bright colours for maximum "WOW!" effect and smaller, ball-shaped types for adding to bouquets. Just make sure to fertilize these plants regularly as they are rapid growers and get hungry!
Did I miss any of your favourite easy-to-grow flowers on the list? Tell me, what plants do you like to grow with your kids?