A valuable lesson in botany can be a fun, shared experience with your children and grandchildren. However, if you wish to share growing things with kids, you need something that grows quickly, showing roots or leaves within a day or two.
Don’t get discouraged if your children do not jump for joy at the mention of, “Let’s see what happens when we put this in water.” Grandmas through the ages have dragged reluctant kids through a planting lesson, to be told years later, “Remember when we planted those leaves? That was really fun!”
Today’s photos illustrate plants that show roots or an extra leaf within a day or two which include: Angel wing begonias, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic. Others include carrots and celery - where you cut off the carrot or celery sticks, place them leaf end up in shallow water, and watch them grow. Change the water about every other day. Bird seed is another quick grower, and will grow almost anywhere with a little water.
Great for experimenting are African violet, bamboo, Christmas cactus, and cactus, which are also illustrated in today’s photos. One of the most prevalent problems faced by inexperienced botanists is over- watering. You generally want to put them in a small pot, which requires ¼ (or less) of a cup of water about every 3 or 4 days. Be sure and water them when the kids are there, to get them to look, watch and observe like a scientist. Some people keep charts of growth by week.
Don’t forget to talk about what you are doing! “Let’s get a jar and put these in water. We’ll need some dirt or planting soil. Let’s cut the stem here.” “Look! It has a new shoot! (or stem or leaf).