You likely know that some plants are toxic. Finding kid safe plants for the nursery, play room or a kid’s play area in your backyard isn’t the easiest of chores in a garden center. Especially if they have inexperienced staff.
The good news is, there are a lot of child-friendly and fun plants around that will let your kid enjoy the benefits of plants, without you worrying to the high-heavens about safety concerns.
For your kid to fall in love with gardening, they’ll want to take responsibility and not have adults constantly watching over them, telling them not to do things. You will want to know it’s safe for them to explore, without worrying they’ll eat something that’ll give them diarrhea, cause vomiting or worse.
You need to be growing non-toxic plants in and around kids’ play spaces because even if they aren’t interested at first in gardening, eventually, they will be. Especially when they see the cute butterflies and ladybugs show up.
If their play space is out in the front yard, follow these tips to keep them safe.
What Your Child Will Learn from Growing Plants
Kids learn patience early and enjoy the wait
You waited excitedly, probably at times frustratingly, nine months for your little one to come along. Now that they’re at the stage of getting around plenty-easy, let them learn how some things in life, they just need to wait for. It’ll make it easier when you start dishing out pocket money (or is too late for that?). Your child will learn and value patience early because you can’t grow a plant overnight.
They learn the science of life
Gardening with your kids lets you teach them about how plants live, what they need to thrive, how to care for them, and how to protect them. It’s a handy lesson for their early years to learn how to nurture a seedling to grow it into a plant.
Get your kid excited to eat their greens
A lot of plants are safe to eat. By teaching your kid how foods are grown, and letting them grow their own fruit and vegetables, they may just be more inclined to eat the healthy home-grown good stuff because they grew it themselves. Give them something to feel proud about. And it’ll cut your shopping bill. Win-win!
Strawberries, pumpkins, peas, lettuce, dill, spinach, beets and carrots are just some of the edible veggies you can grow from seed. And that’s just in the cooler season. Kidsgardening.org lists loads of plants for pre-k gardens year-round.
Gardening with kids lets them learn through discovery
Kids are curious and rightly so. The best way to learn is by asking questions. The garden (and growing any plant indoors) will get them curious about how plants grow. There’s going to be insects – some good, others not so much – there’ll be varying temperatures to monitor, different growing climates, preparation for winter gardening and lots of opportunities to get filthy fingernails digging around the garden. Fun stuff!
For both you can teach your kid the benefits of plants – and gardening in general – listed below are the safe plants to use in kids play areas and around them.
6 Child-Safe Plants for Play Areas for both Indoors and Outdoor Gardens
1 – Christmas Cactus
This is a houseplant known for its air purification qualities. It’s not for consumption but it is non-toxic so no harm of any chemicals getting onto your kid’s fingers then being ingested.
To force this plant into blooming at Christmas, from around October, it needs more darkness and a cooler temperature. Your child can put it to bed (in a dark cupboard) 13 to 14 hours before it’s brought back into the room with its usual lighting. Example: 7 pm, plant goes into darkness, then gets up between 8 am and 9 am the following morning. For kids, this is a great one to teach them the importance of rest and get them into a routine.
2 – Boston Fern
The Boston Fern is both an indoor plant and outdoor plant. It can’t be outdoors in the winter and it needs acclimatized before spending all day out in the spring. It produces bursts of thick, lush greenery, and takes a lot of watering so it’ll really take a lot to drown this.
It is possible to grow Boston ferns indoors only. Whether you want to or not depends on how large of a space you can accommodate, or how small you want to keep it. Indoors, it’ll take more regular pruning. Outdoors, the sword-shaped leaves will drape over the plant pot, continually growing until you cut it back.
3 – Hen and Chick Plant
Gardeners call these Sempervivum. Non-gardeners use the more fun names like hen and chick plant or houseleeks. Sempervivum means live forever, making this plant ideal for kids to grow when you really want to avoid that awkward conversation about how the plant died.
4 – African Violet
The African Violet is used in classrooms to demonstrate propagation. A safe plant to grow indoors and it’ll give your kid a head start on school lessons. Do note that this plant isn’t fond of touching. The more the leaves are handled, the slower it grows. With these, there’s plenty of green and bursts of color. More so when grown in groups.
5 – Baby Rubber Plant
The baby rubber plant is hardy, doesn’t take much watering and although it is a succulent, unlike other types, this has some character to it so kids won’t easily bore of it. The leaves have a waxy texture, a lot of the veins are easy to see, and the stems are much thicker than most.
6 – Daisies
Daisies are great for kids. They can sit in the garden for hours fascinated with the length of chains they can make with daisies. With daisies, kids can make daisy chains and turn those into flower jewelry by making their own crown to play the daisy queen, or make necklaces or friendship bracelets for the whole family. Do you have a gazebo? Hang daisy chains from it for a beaded curtain effect.
What’s more, they can practice counting how many daisies they have in the chain. Better still, with each one added, they’re using their hand/eye coordination.
Safe Practices when Gardening with Kids Around
While the plants above are all non-toxic, there are safety considerations to keep in mind. Especially if your little one is only a toddler at the stage of putting everything they pick up in their mouth. To make sure your child is safe in the garden and that you’re teaching them how to grow plants carefully and safely, you’ll find practical advice for parents at the RHS website and a complete list of potentially unsafe plants to keep away from children.
For more ways to keep your kids safe, make sure you don’t have these hidden toxins in your home.