Photo credit: Jupiterimages/ liquidlibrary/360/ Getty Images
Beautiful summer weather is all about finding fun activities to try outdoors. What's better than gardening, an activity that teaches science and the value of hard work? Unfortunately, when it comes to gardening with kids, that activity often results in a lot of dead plants and confusion.
To help you avoid the inevitable disappointment of plants that don't grow, flower or bear fruit, we've put together a list of plants you kids won't kill. From seedlings to hardy houseplants, these plants give your kids a fighting chance when it comes to demonstrating the responsibility required to keep a living thing alive all summer long.
Photo credit: Scott Akerman via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
The cool thing about succulents is that it's incredibly hard to kill them. Short of watering them with bleach, you're probably going to keep these little suckers alive. They're great plants for kids as long as you choose a variety that isn't covered in needles or barbs. When it comes to succulents, you can get super creative with the containers, because they don't need a ton of water. Get your kids involved in the container selection process. This could mean a fun trip to the thrift store, putting together a dinosaur garden in a large planter or repurposing an old toy as a succulent planter.
Photo credit: José Carlos Cortizo Pérez via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Unlike succulents, sunflowers do take at least some care to grow successfully. When gardening with kids, you can start the seeds indoors, but keep in mind that they shoot up quickly and need to be transferred to where they're grow early on. As long as you plant the seeds in decent soil in a sunny area, some of them should manage to grow into full, blooming sunflowers within a couple of months. Have the kids water the sunflowers. Make a project out of measuring them, and if you plant an edible variety, you can harvest the flowers for more seeds.
Photo credit: Grant Montgomery via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
If your kids like flowers but also want to try growing something edible, nasturtiums are a cool compromise. The flowers are actually edible. You won't want to munch on a whole pile of them, but you can use them to color salads. Start them from seeds in repurposed yogurt containers or another small container. Grow them right on a windowsill while your kids keep watch and keep the soil moist. Replant in flower pots or right in a flower bed as the seedlings grow.
Photo credit: Dwight Sipler via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Unlike regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes can be grown very easily in containers. In most climates, you can grow them through the summer. The key to not killing your cherry tomato plant is to water it regularly. Cheat by buying a plant at your local nursery instead of starting from seeds. Harvest tomatoes regularly so that the plant keeps producing fruit.