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Caring for Indoor Plants

By: Nikki Phipps - Updated: 24 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Indoor Plants Houseplant Plant Care Kids

Kids and gardening go hand in hand. They love dirt and digging. They love nature and being a part of something. But did you know that indoor gardening can be just as exciting for kids? Teaching them to care for indoor plants can open up a whole new world to them. Even younger kids can benefit from this year-round activity.

Discussing Plant Care

It never hurts to find out what the kids already know about the wonderful world of plants. Assessing their current knowledge can make caring for indoor plants easier. Flip through resource books and talk about the various types of plants. Discuss the importance of plant care. What do they need in order to grow? Explain the importance of keeping indoor environments suitable to the growing needs of houseplants.

The most important elements for indoor plants include light water, temperature and humidity. Insufficient light can result in pale, leggy, and weak plants. Water is crucial, but overwatering can be detrimental to houseplants. Teach kids the proper way to water indoor plants. Have them poke their finger into the soil. If it feels dry, the plant needs water. If the soil feels moist, leave it alone.

Indoor temperatures should stay reasonably warm and never too cold. Indoor gardening also needs slightly humid conditions to avoid excessive dryness. Experiment with a variety of plants using different levels of light, water temperature and humidity. What happens? Provide a diary for the kids to record their findings.

A Plant Of Their Very Own

Nothing makes learning about indoor plant care easier than growing your own. Have the kids grow and care for their own indoor plant(s). There are numerous plants well suited to indoor environments. In choosing houseplants, keep in mind that kids are especially fond of unusual or fun plants, as well as those that are most familiar to them. Ask the kids what plants they find most appealing and see if their growing requirements are agreeable to an indoor setting. For instance, many kids enjoy growing Venus flytraps. These carnivorous plants require lots of humidity. Perhaps the kids are more interested in fun plants such as carrot tops or spider plants. Older kids might enjoy growing a cactus. Indoor plants are quite versatile and come in many varieties. Perform some research to find one that suits the gardening needs of your kids as well as the growing needs of the plant.

Experiment with different types of houseplants. Have the kids make cuttings from some of their favourite houseplants or germinate seeds from those outdoors. As their plant begins to sprout or take root, explain the various plant parts. You could even allow them to draw their plant over time to keep up with its changes. Another way to explore the wonders of plant growth is by allowing kids to force bulbs indoors, such as tulip, hyacinth, or daffodil bulbs. Use a hyacinth glass or any narrow-opened glass jar. Rest the bulb over the opening and fill the jar with water up to a ¼ inch below the bulb. Roots will begin to develop in the water and as the top growth begins to sprout, flowering will soon follow.

Caring for indoor plants is a great way for kids to explore their creativity. Allow kids to select their own container. Nearly anything with drainage holes is acceptable. Just make sure that it will be large enough to accommodate the mature size of the plant. Allow them to decorate their container in order to create whimsical pots for their plant(s). These can be painted or decorated with items such as buttons, mosaic tiles, shells, beads, etc. Provide easy instructions for potting and aftercare. In fact, it may be helpful to create fun, colourful plant-care labels. Go over the importance of light, soil, and water. Make it clear that they are in charge of their own plant(s). Let them pot their plant, select its location, and tend to it as needed. Make sure the kids place their plant(s) in a suitable location based on its growing requirements. In the process, they’ll learn a thing or two about responsibility.

Indoor Plants Just For Fun

Include a discussion about the various ways plants benefit us. For instance, plants can be used for medicine, food, and even clothing. Have them perform some research into the history of their particular plant. Ask questions about it's past usages. Plants help provide shelter, oxygen, and peace of mind. In fact, indoor plants can improve our quality of life, reducing stress and improving mental health. As a way to encourage giving and the power of plants, allow the kids to grow another plant for someone else. This could be for a relative, a friend, a teacher, or for a stranger in a hospital or nursing home. Have them create a list of benefits and match plants to them.

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