A love for gardening doesn’t happen overnight; it’s often introduced and fostered from a young age. If you’re looking to instill your passion for gardening in your children, why not get them started now? Give them their own plot of land in your yard and teach them how to plant, maintain and enjoy the fruits of their labor, while also teaching them the importance of the task at hand. It will not only give you a shared hobby, but also start a future generation of gardeners that our planet desperately needs.
To give your child the best chance for success, we don’t recommend starting him or her off with infamously fussy plants, such as Itoh Peony or Tea Roses. Although this could be one way to teach kids about gardening, it’s best to start with easy-to-grow, quick-blooming varieties that will impress in the first season. This way, you and your little one can check the garden every weekend and track the growth progress, as well as cut and bring the prized blooms (or crops) inside to enjoy.
In preparation for spring planting, we’ve put together 10 of our favorite varieties for a kid’s first garden. All of these flowers and vegetables are extremely easy to grow and should do well in any sunny spot with well-draining soil.
10 of our Favorite Varieties for a Child's First Garden
- Sunflowers. Sunflowers are a classic favorite for kids. Not only are they extremely easy to grow, but the sheer height and size of their blooms makes any gardener feel accomplished (old or young).
- Zinnias. One of the easiest plants to grow from seed, Zinnias come in a wide array of colors and bloom all season long until the frost, making a lasting statement in your little one’s garden plot.
- Beans. With big seeds that are easy to plant, Beans are a great choice for a child's first vegetable garden. We recommend planting Bush Beans, which form shorter, bushier plants that are easier for your little one to harvest.
- Dahlias. As long as your garden has full sun, these huge-blooming favorites create a burst of blooms in the late summer garden all the way through the fall. With dozens of colors and shapes to choose from, your little one will love deciding which colors to plant and learning how to stake the plant as it grows to support the huge blooms.
- Peas. Pea Seeds can be directly sown into the garden are fairly quick to produce. Once ready, this tasty vegetable is easy for a child to pick straight off the vine and eat immediately.
- Marigolds. Marigolds are some of the most popular annual flowers on earth and add quick blooms that last for the entire summer. Marigolds also help naturally keep harmful pests and disease away from other plants, which could be a valuable lesson for your child.
- Pumpkins. What could be more exciting than the anticipation of watching a big, orange pumpkin grow all summer long, then carving it for a jack-o-lantern come Halloween? Pumpkin seeds are also a larger size, making it easy for little hands to plant.
- Calendula. Like sunflowers, Calendula seeds are large and easy for a child to plant. These bold-colored beauties provide knockout blooms in the garden, but can also can be used to garnish salads and other culinary creations. It’s fun to eat what we grow!
- Lilies. An iconic garden flower, Lily Bulbs are extremely easy to grow and take up almost no garden space, making them a great choice for a small garden. Bonus: your child will have a blast choosing which colors to grow and bringing the fragrant blooms indoors for summer bouquets.
- Nasturtium. Giant, easy-to-grow seeds are perfect for kids gardening and the brightly-colored blooms are edible. This flower can be grown in containers which could be another great lesson for your little gardener.
Even with a little help from mom or dad, the pride in the success of a child’s first garden is worth the extra time and effort. Be sure to take photos of the progress each week to look at the “before” and “after” pictures at the end of the growing season. Plus, you can spend the colder months planning for next spring – don’t be afraid to suggest more challenging varieties the older she gets!