Most children are attracted to flowers. Fragrant and beautiful, they are often irresistible to little hands. In fact, cultivating a garden is a great way to teach children about science and the cycle of life. Unfortunately, many showy flowers, such as oleander, are poisonous and can be deadly if consumed by children. Keep your garden child-friendly by planting flowers that are not poisonous to kids.
Plant bold, brightly coloured flowers to give your children a feast for the eyes. Mums (Chrysanthemum spp.) are a terrific choice because they are completely safe for children (they are even edible) and come in a range of colours. They are also easy to grow. English daisies (Bellis perennis) are another (although bitter) edible choice. Their large, pink flower heads practically beg children to pluck off the petals. Both plants are perennials and will return to bloom year after year with proper care.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are almost a must in any child's garden. Bold and beautiful, they produce seeds that are a tasty treat for both birds and humans. Leave the seeds to dry in the flower heads and do some birdwatching as they come to feast, or harvest and roast the seeds yourself. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majusare) are another tasty treat. The blooms, which have a slightly peppery taste, can be sprinkled on salads and soups. Like sunflowers, nasturtiums are easy to grow. Both sunflowers and nasturtiums are annual plants, which means you will have to sow the seeds every year.
Entice your children by planting flowers that have a beautiful fragrance. Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) have large, showy panicles of blooms that not only have a strong scent but are also edible, although the flavour varies depending on the species and cultivar. Lavender (Lavendula spp.) has long been valued for its soothing fragrance and is sometimes used in baking. Both plants are perennials and thrive in full sun.
The pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana) will fascinate your children with its unusual flowers. The flowers have long, red stamens that steal the show from the small white petals, and the fruits are small and sweet. Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa) is a showy plant that puts out tall, slender stalks of white flowers. This yucca, unlike others, does not have sharp points on the leaves and will not hurt or poison children.
- State Government of Victoria Better Health Channel: Gardening for Children
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service; Edible Flowers; Cyndi Lauderdale and Erv Evans; Jan. 1999
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Oleander; Karen Russ and Bob Polomski; July 2001
- Floridata; Yucca Filamentosa; Steve Christman; Oct. 1997
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