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
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)
6. Melinis nerviglumis
Bristle Leaved Red Top (E); Steekblaarblinkgras (A)
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)
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.
Please advise me on the best plant of small tree for a pot plant? 100 lt pot
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