Teaching responsibility, with plants
23 March, 2020
Indoor plants are the new black – you’ll find house and homewares magazines full of them and all the lifestyle TV shows talking about them. But did you know that a house plant can also teach your child valuable life lessons?
Just like a family pet, house plants are living things that require food and water, love and attention. Not only do they add a touch of happiness to our living spaces and relax us, they also filter the air we breathe. But did you realise that giving your child their first house plant can teach them some very useful life lessons?
Caring for a plant is akin to caring for an animal. Children need to understand their plant’s requirements for survival and they need to show responsibility and accountability in tending to that plant’s needs. That might be making sure to water their plant weekly, or taking their plant outside for the weekends to give it fresh air and a boost of sunlight, or fertilising it seasonally. Then, depending on the age of your child, there are the educational lessons around photosynthesis, propagation and other science-based learning.
So what type of plant is going to be best for your child in their room? Choosing a hardy variety is key. And, of course, you must take into account the amount of sunlight that plant will receive in its chosen position. Philodendron xanadu is as hardy as they come. It’s glossy and green with interesting leaves that’ll intrigue the littlest green thumbs. Spider plant is equally as easy. With its green-and-white striped ribbon leaves, this one throws baby plants out from the ends of long arching stems. These babies can be trimmed off, placed in water for a few weeks to grow roots, and then transplanted back into dirt. It’s the plant that keeps on giving!
Anthiriums are another hardy variety that can tolerate shade. They produce unusual flowers that will be a bonus for your mini plant owner. In fact, flowering varieties of house plants are great for keeping your child’s interest level high. A Gerbera alongside a bright window can be fun, as is Kalanchoe, Zygocactus (sometimes called Christmas cactus) and African violets. And, again, your Zygo and African violet can be easily propagated which will give your child great satisfaction – imagine growing a new baby plant, from their very own plant, that they can gift to Grandma?!
The best way to get your child started in gardening and plant ownership is to organise a visit to your local nursery. Wander the aisles and see what plants grab their attention. And remember, it’s never too early to encourage your child’s green thumb. From owning and caring for their first house plant in their bedroom, your child might be motivated to take that one step further and start a veggie patch outside to grow produce for the family dinner table? The sky is the limit and the lessons will be lifelong.