10 Great South African Indigenous Plants for Children's Gardens

Not many people seem to know that South African Indigenous plants provide the most wonderfully rich gardening experience for children.

Getting into the garden with your child can be a daunting experience if you don’t know much about plants. That's why we thought we'd suggest ten of our favourites for children, from Random Harvest Indigenous Plant Nursery.

Children benefit greatly from gardening. It provides endless multi-sensory learning. Whether you have a large landscaped garden or are confined to container gardening, the five senses (touch, sound, sight, smell and taste) can all be employed by choosing indigenous plants. The added benefit is that you create habitat for wildlife in your garden - providing yet more opportunities for discovering the wonders of nature.

We have carefully chosen these 10 great indigenous plants for children, to maximise the number of fun gardening activities for kids that you can do with them. These have been tried and tested by children engaged in outdoor learning and play. There are obviously many more to choose from, as you will discover when browsing through the nursery. There are always helpful and knowledgeable staff to assist you.

1. Rhus (Searsia) lancea

Karee (E);Karee (A); mushakaladza (V); mošabêlê (Tsw); umhlakotshane (Z); mokalaabata (S)

 

If you don’t prune it up too early this is a fantastic evergreen climbing tree for children. Cultivate the low branches so that they are easily accessible to young children. Its rough bark makes for good grip and the low branching makes it accessible to smaller children.  The birds seem to love it too – attracting Grey Loerie (Go-Away-Bird) and Barbets, amongst other.

 

2. Plectranthus ecklonii

Large Spur-flower Bush (E); Persmuishondblaar (A)

A shrub for semi-shade to shady areas, with large leaves that create a canopy - a great summer and autumn secret hide-away. You do need to prune it once a year, but it soon grows back.  The soft cuttings root fairly easily, so are quite rewarding for children to try and grow their own cuttings. Use the leaves to do creative rubbings and prints. They have a distinctive scent when crushed.

 

 

3. Delosperma lydenbergense

Klipvygie (A)

Succulent bright green flowers and pretty pink flowers that the insects love make this an attractive plant for the garden. It provides great sight and touch learning experiences. Look at the leaves in sunlight and through a magnifying glass. They look as if they are decorated with jewels. It is easy to grow and great for outdoor plant pots and rock or succulent gardens.

 

 

 4. Bulbine frutescens

Stalked Bulbine (E); Rankkopieva (A)

The flowers look lovely in a vase, so children can add it to posies picked from the garden. It attracts loads of insects to watch and fleshy leaves that can be broken open and the gel-like sap used to take the sting out of most insect bites and stings and minor burns. Succulent leaves also provide tactile learning value.

 

5. Mentha longifolia

Wild Spearmint (E)

 

 This is a great one for children that love to water things endlessly! The more water sloshed on it the happier it is.  It smells heavenly when crushed, is edible, and the best for making a mint flavoured milk shake.  Simply grab a few leaves and toss them in the blender with vanilla ice - cream and a little green food colouring for dramatic effect.  The flowers attract many insects, including bees, and if you pick them and put them in water straight away, they are pretty in a vase.

 

6. Melinis nerviglumis

Bristle Leaved Red Top (E); Steekblaarblinkgras (A)

Grasses provide wonderful texture with their leaves, flowers and seeds. Watch and hear how they move in the breeze. You could also try some of the other colourful grasses, such as

Hyparrhenia hirta (Turpentine Grass).  Press flowering grasses into playdough or clay to make instant "fossil prints".

 

7. Aloe aristata

Guinea-fowl Aloe; Lace Aloe (E)

Succulents such as Aloe aristata, Gasteria species, and Haworthia limifolia all have interesting rough textured firm fleshy leaves. Great for discovering through the sense of touch.  Their flowers are lovely and attract many small pollinating insects.

 

 

8. Pelargonium graveolens

Rose Scented Pelargonium (E)

Lovely for crushing and smelling the leaves that are reminiscent of Turkish delight to me.  The leaves and flowers can be picked and popped in a vase – which kids just love to do.  When the plant needs pruning, keep the cuttings and grow them simply by sticking them in some good, well drained soil, and pass on these delightful plants to friends. Wonderful for painting with leaf prints, making leaf rubbings, and using the flowers for decorating desserts and cakes.

 

9. Halleria lucida

Tree-Fuchsia (E); Notsung (A); murevhe (V); leloetsi (S)

My friend calls this the surprise tree, as she says when she walk past hers, a bird invariably flies out of it. At flowering time it produces tubular flowers that are full of nectar. This attracts both nectar feeders and insect eaters that feed on all the insects attracted by the sweet nectar.  The flowers are followed by fleshy fruits that the birds and insects also love. If you want to try growing it from cuttings, the twigs of this tree root easily. Leaves make for lovely rubbings, and the bark has a rough texture.

 

10. Gazania hybrids

These are such happy flowers that any child’s garden would not be complete without them. Rewarding as they are inexpensive and brightly coloured, they are easy to grow and if looked after will flower again and again throughout the year.  They are fairly drought hardy, and not a good plant to include in areas that get watered a lot. However, good garden soil and regular watering will reward you with lots of flowers.  Bees, butterflies and a number of other insects love to visit these flowers.

 

Comments

Got something to say? Join the discussion »
    Posted @ 10/31/2017 8:07 PM by Trev   
    Trev's avatar

    Please advise me on the best plant of small tree for a pot plant? 100 lt pot

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