5 Plants Guaranteed to Get Your Kiddos Excited About Gardening

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I’m a horticulturist and we have lots of plants in our landscape. We’re outside a lot. My 4-year-old son loves to help me in the vegetable garden, and both of my kids love to help me check the plants in our landscape on a regular basis. It’s become my son’s latest excuse to run away to the front yard when we get home and get out of the car. However, there are some plants in particular that my kids absolutely love.

1. Blackberries

Thornless varieties are the best kind when gardening with kids. Apache and Arapaho are a couple of varieties that do well in Oklahoma. They’re tough plants that anyone with a “black thumb” can grow, as long as you give it some water every now and then. My kids love harvesting the blackberries in early June, and we’re even getting a few now in late July. My son would ask every morning if we could go outside and pick some blackberries. 

2. Fennel

Those with bee allergies beware. Fennel is great for attracting a myriad of pollinators, including bees and wasps, but do you know what else they attract? Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. That is sure to be a kid magnet. My 21-month-old daughter absolutely loves going out and petting the caterpillars. My son loves to watch them transform from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. You will find caterpillars on them pretty much all summer long. 

3. Potatoes

They are so incredibly easy to grow! Trust me. We bought a grow bag, some potting soil, and seed potatoes from the local farm supply store and let the kids toss the potatoes into the bag as I layered the soil for them. We did this in March and when June rolled around, I let my son dig out as many potatoes as he could find. Spoiler alert: the purple potatoes did the best of the three fingerling potato varieties we bought. 

4. Mint

Really, any fragrant herb is a hit. My kids love brushing their hands against mint and smelling it. Also, mint is a super easy plant to raise as long as it gets enough water. It’s really easy to propagate, too. You just take a cutting and root it in some potting soil, then transplant it to the location of your choice. It also does well by dividing a large plant and transplanting it. 

5. Passion Flower

Gulf fritillary butterfly caterpillars love this plant. It’s a trailing vine, so give it a trellis to grow on. The Hardy Blue Passion Flower will come back each year (a perennial). This plant has brought so much joy to my kids. It has been loaded with fritillary butterfly caterpillars this year and my kids are ecstatic about that. These caterpillars look so cool, too! They’re orange and have black spikes all over their body. I have to mention the alien-like flowers, too. It’s a must-have in the garden.

Do you garden with your kids? Tell us what they love!

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Courtney
Growing up in Devils Den State Park, Arkansas, has certainly influenced my career choice. I'm an Extension Horticulture Educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service via Oklahoma State University. I have 2 little children and a kind-hearted husband that stays at home with them while I work (more than) full time. We love quality time together, whether it be watching Wild Kratts, going to church, hanging out with cousins, checking our plants in the garden, or anything else. We love to travel, and hope to bring our kids on our international adventures in the future. I hope to bring a unique, but relatable perspective to the OKC metro mom community.

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