Children are attracted to bright colours, interesting textures and pretty things--and preschoolers love to put objects in their mouth. No wonder plants are a leading cause of poisonings in children, according to the Florida Poison Information Center. But plants can also improve a room, clean the air and provide learning opportunities, so you need to be sure your plant is safe to have around preschool-age children. Some old favourites will prove harmless and enjoyable.
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African Violets are a particular favourite for children, with furry leaves and pretty flowers. They provide a good opportunity to teach young children about caring for plants and providing them the awe of watching the violet grow. Violets are also easy to grow; they prefer bright light but indirect sun--a west window in summer or south window in winter proves ideal. Keep violets fairly moist, avoiding getting it on the foliage. Keep moderately root-bound and surround yourself and the children with furry, pretty violets in all manner of colours.
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Boston ferns will prove to be one of the most luxurious, full plants young children will encounter--and the sounds of the cascading, rustling fronds when they are gently touched will stimulate your child's senses. Another interesting thing for children is to see the spores embedded on the underside of the fern fronds from which new plants can seed and grow. Easy to grow the fern provides a lot of plant for one pot. Keep your fern in bright, indirect light and soil consistently moist, but not saturated. Re-pot as necessary to prevent them from becoming root-bound, generally every year or two.
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With thousands of types and colours of orchids, no wonder humans are captured in their beauty and elegance. Some orchids have flowers as large as an adult hand, and some as small as the tip of a child's finger. Grow orchids with your preschool class to inspire an awe of nature and its beauty. Not only are they fairly easy to care for, but the flowers will be a fragrant addition to your classroom. Keep in indirect sun, and water well when soil dries, allowing to dry thoroughly again. Keep your orchids fairly root-bound, and mist to keep humidity high. Use special potting soil such as moss for best results.
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Another easy-to-grow houseplant is the spider plant. Long, spindly leaves with a distinguished white and green stripe provide a cascade of plant. Children will especially enjoy the spider "babies," which are formed when the adult plant grows a round shoot from which a small, miniature spider begins to grow. Not only is the spider plant easy for children to care for, but young kids will get a kick out of the mother and child growths. Keep your spider in bright, indirect sunlight and keep soil moist, but not drenched. Feed it a couple of times a year--and let your students help you transplant the babies that soon thrive.
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Interesting pointy, spiky, segmented leaves (but nothing sharp) combined with bright blooms make a Christmas cactus a favourite. It provides the opportunity to explain what a cactus is, how they differ and how succulents hold water. They are asy to grow--almost hard to kill. The biggest mistake you can make with a Christmas cactus is keeping it wet; water very, very rarely and keep the plant in bright but indirect sun. Plant will bloom from November to January and enjoy a rest in February and March, with cooler temperatures and no water. Begin the next growing season afterward by watering well, then summering outside in a mostly shady spot.