Kids enjoy projects during the cold winter months that remind them that spring and warmer weather will soon be here. Teaching a child how flowers grow from seeds and bulbs inside the house gets them excited to start growing plants, flowers and vegetables outside. A hands-on approach where the child participates in the planting and growing process is more interesting than watching a video or reading a book. Growing flowers may be one of the first steps to help them respect nature.
Lots of flowers are easy to start from seed and take well to growing in a sunny window. Large seeds such as nasturtium, zinnia and sweet peas are easier for small hands to handle. Soak the seeds for 24 hours in warm water before planting to hasten germination.
Bulbs are flowers in a package waiting to happen and are almost always successful for kids to grow. Narcissus are adaptable for inside. The flowers resemble tiny daffodils. However, unlike daffodils there is no chilling requirement. Another good bulb for children is amaryllis. The bulbs are about the size of a large orange. Plant so the tip is still visible above the soil.
Orchids are exotic plants that require a warm environment. They are not usually thought of as flowers for children. Their advantage is that they do grow easily indoors. They don't require a lot of special care and the blooms will last several weeks up to a month. The child needs to water the orchid by immersing it completely in water.
Seedlings are prone to a fungus called damping off. The fungus kills the seed while it's still under the soil or after it's sprouted and has grown an inch or so high. Use fresh new potting soil for the child's seeds so they won't be disappointed. Used potting soil may be disinfected by baking in a 250-degree oven for 20 minutes, shutting the oven off and leaving the soil to cool down to room temperature. The soil does smell funny as it heats.
Flowers require sunlight. Place the flowers near a sunny window with a southern or western exposure. Artificial grow lights work as well. The exceptions are orchids, which will grow in bright indirect light.
Flowers are not edible, although there are a few exceptions. The child should wash his hands thoroughly after caring for flowers.