Children’s Bright and Beautiful

For the one who loves color, interesting textures, and fragrance. Money plant produces silver-dollar-like seedpods, lamb’s ears and bunny tails are irresistibly soft, and the color of Chinese lantern is phenomenal. Unlike the other children’s plot design, some of these plants are NOT edible, so be sure to take the time to teach your child about these and their usefulness or just sheer fun. These plants may take more time and patience than the vegetable plot choices, so consider this design for children who are old enough to understand.

ChildrensBrightBeautiful

Cotton

If the kids are old enough, there are some great history lessons hidden in this plant. If wee little ones are doing the growing, just let them feel the fluff and maybe make a teeny-tiny doll pillow.

cottonsm
  • Gossypium hirsutum
  • Inedible but used for textiles or crafts
  • Plant outdoors 1″ deep in compost-enriched soil when all threat of frost has passed. Soil temperature should be at least 60F 6″ down three days in a row.
  • Spacing: 9 per sq. ft.
  • Germination: should begin sprouting within a couple weeks or as early as one week if temperatures maintain above 60F.
  • Water during dry months. Water is crucial during the branching, blooming, and boll-ing (from four to five weeks and on).
  • Days to harvest: normally within four months of planting
  • Height: up to 6′
  • Hint: Wear gloves when harvesting to protect from cuts. Seeds can be saved and planted again the next year.
  • Illustration

Terracotta Sunflower

terracottasunflowersm1
  • Helianthus annuus var. Terracotta
  • Edible*: buds, petals, and seeds
  • Sow seeds 1″ deep after the danger of frost is past.
  • Spacing: two plants per sq. ft. or six inches apart; can plant multiples and thin when six inches tall.
  • Tall species may require support.
  • To use for bouquets, in the early morning cut the main stem at the time just before the bud opens to encourage side blooms.
  • Bloom: midsummer; great for cut flowers
  • Height and bloom size: 4′-6′ high, 5″-6″ across

Elephant’s Ears

tarosm
  • Colocasia esculenta, also known as taro
  • Edible*: tuber and leaves
  • Plant tubers outdoors 2″-3″ deep (blunt end down) as soon as possible once threat of frost has passed.
  • Transplant into garden three weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 70 degrees F.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: About 200 days after planting. Not frost-hardy.
  • Height and breadth: 3′ to 6′ high, about 20″ across
  • Hint: Water during dry spells. Prefers consistent moisture. Dig and store indoors during winter, cutting foliage back to a couple inches. After drying for a day or two, store in peat moss or shavings in a cool, dark area. Otherwise, transplant into a container.
  • Drawing by Wendy Hollender

Bellflowers

bellflowerssm
  • Campanula persicifolia
  • Edible*: flowers, foliage, and roots; bland flavored, ooze a harmless sticky white sap
  • Sow directly outside as soon as temperatures are consistently warm (late spring), and cover lightly. Germination takes 14-21 days, so be sure to keep the topsoil moist.
  • Transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 65 degrees F.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: early to midsummer
  • Height: 15″-30″
  • Hint: Deadheading will encourage more prolific blooms.
  • Drawing by Greta Mulligan

Milkweed

milkweedsm
  • Asclepias syriaca
  • Edible with knowledge and caution*: Humans can eat milkweed, but its toxicity depends on its species, age, how it is prepared and how much is eaten.
  • CAUTION: Leaves and above-ground parts are poisonous, especially to grazing animals.
  • Sweet-scented; food of the monarch butterfly
  • As soon as temperatures have reached 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit, scatter seeds on soil surface and cover 1/4″ deep. Germination is greatly improved by first placing the seeds in dampened paper towels soaked in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3-6 wks. and then in paper towels soaked in warm water for 24 hrs prior to planting.
  • For simplicity, propagate from a cutting, buy a transplant, or sow seeds in the fall for natural stratification.
  • Spacing: 1 per sq. ft.
  • Height: 4′-6′
  • Bloom: midsummer
  • Hint: Spreads by rhizomes.
  • Drawing by Zsoldos Márton

Silver Dollars

moneyplantsm
  • Lunaria annua, also known as money plant (SE Asia), Chinese coins, or coins of Judas (Holland)
  • Edible*: early leaves and roots before flowering; slightly hot taste
  • Direct sow seeds anytime from spring to fall. Easiest to plant in spring. Sprinkle on and cover lightly.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: early to midsummer; seedpods great for dried bouquets
  • Height: about 2′
  • Hint: Bring seed pods inside for decoration before they are carried away by the wind and spread their seeds.

Cosmos

cosmossm
  • Cosmos caudatus, also known as ulam raja (the king’s salad)
  • Edible*: young leaves and shoots, taste reminiscent of mangoes
  • Plant seeds 1/4″ deep outdoors after danger of frost is past.
  • Transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 65 degrees F.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: 7 wks. from planting date
  • Height: 18″-60″
  • Drawing by Edward Step

Shasta Daisies

shasta-daisysm
  • Leucanthemum × superbum
  • Edible*: petals
  • Sow under a cold frame in autumn or spring.
  • If sown directly, they will bloom the spring after one season’s growth.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Height: 2′-3′
  • Bloom: summer to fall; terrific for cutting
  • Hint: Remove lower leaves before planting and bury extra stem.
  • Drawing by Nancy Wheeler Klippert

Velvet Queen Sunflower

velvet-queen-sunflowersm1
  • Helianthus annuus var. “Velvet Queen”
  • Edible*: buds, petals, and seeds
  • Sow seeds 1″ deep after the danger of frost is past.
  • Spacing: two plants per sq. ft. or six inches apart; can plant multiples and thin when six inches tall.
  • Tall species may require support.
  • To use for bouquets, in the early morning cut the main stem at the time just before the bud opens to encourage side blooms.
  • Bloom: midsummer; great for cut flowers
  • Height and bloom size: 4′-5′ high, 6″-8″ across

Chinese Lantern

Chineselanternsm
  • Physalis alkekengi
  • Edible*: berry, higher in vitamin C than lemons (Eat once husks are faded and dry; unripe berries are very sour).
  • CAUTION: All other parts of the plant are poisonous but medicinal.
  • Plant seeds indoors (after last frost) or out, but because of the long germination time (20-25 days), indoors is recommended with a heated germination mat, 4-6 weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost.
  • Spacing: one plant per 2 sq. ft.
  • Height: up to 2′
  • Bloom: midsummer, giving way to decorative “lanterns;” great for dried arrangements

Dill

dillsm
  • Anethum graveolens
  • Edible herb
  • Plant: Sow seeds directly in the garden after danger of frost. Keep soil moist during germination. Sow continuously to maintain a supply of fresh, tender foliage.
  • Spacing: Sow 18 seeds per sq. ft.; thin to nine plants per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 40 to 50 days for leaf, 85 to 105 days for seed.
  • Height: 2′-4′
  • Hint: For seed, protect plants from wind or stake to keep them from flopping.
  • Drawing by Yael Berger

Forget-Me-Nots

forgetmenotsm
  • Myosotis scorpioides
  • Edible*: flowers
  • Direct sow in early spring, even if frost is still possible. Lightly cover. Keep soil moist until germination in 10-20 days.
  • Spacing: 1-2 plants per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: late spring
  • Height: up to 2′
  • Hint: Enjoys moisture. Free-seeding. Deadhead to keep it from spreading undesirably.
  • Drawing by Michelle Ross

Four o’Clock

Fouroclocksm
  • Mirabilis jalapa
  • Edibility*: disputed
  • Fragrance: sweetly scented
  • Sow directly in garden in spring or early summer. Cover lightly.
  • Spacing: 9 per sq. ft.
  • Keep soil moist for a week or two until seeds germinate.
  • Height: 2′-3′
  • Bloom: mid- to late-summer
  • Hints: Their name comes from their habit of opening in the late afternoon.
  • Drawing by Donald Davidson

Zinnias

Zinniasm
  • Zinnia elegans
  • Edible: petals minus the seeds attached to the ends
  • Sow directly after last frost.
  • Spacing: one to several plants per sq. ft., depending on variety
  • Bloom: good for cut flowers
  • Hint: Deadhead or remove flowers to encourage blooming.
  • Drawing by Alice Webb

Cranesbill Geranium

Geranium_crane's billsm
  • Geranium maculatum
  • Medicinal and edible* raw or cooked but is very bitter.
  • Sow on a firmed surface and cover with 1/4″ of compost in autumn or spring. Most often grown from divisions or cuttings.
  • Transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 65 degrees F.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft. Grow early season crops nearby to allow more room later.
  • Bloom: Most plants flower a year after germination in late spring.
  • Height: 8″-20″
  • Drawing by Mary Vaux Walcott

Bunny Tails

bunnytailssm
  • Lagurus ovatus
  • Sprouts readily from seed. Sprinkle on top of soil and cover lightly.
  • Thin baby grasses to give the stronger plants room to grow.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: early to late summer. Perfect for dried bouquets. Cut stems near the base when loose pollen begins to form on top of the flowers.
  • Height: 12″-20″
  • Hint: Drought tolerant and a wonderful novice plant. Remove inflorescences before they fully ripen to avoid self-seeding.

Robinson’s Red Daisies

reddaisysm
  • Tanacetum coccineum “Robinson’s Crimson” (known in the past as Pyrethrum)
  • Edible uses*: none known, but no known hazards either. Dried yellow centers can be used as an insecticide, though it is not as effective as T. cinerariifolium (non-toxic to mammals). Fragrant.
  • Sow seeds indoors before last frost. Press seeds lightly into the soil, and lightly cover, keeping moist until germination. Seeds may be sown straight in the garden after frost in areas with a long growing season.
  • Transplant into garden when temperatures warm up.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: late spring through summer; great cut flower
  • Height: 18″-24″
  • Hints: Pinch back new growth when the shoots are 6″-8″ long to encourage as bushier, fuller plant. At bloom time a low nitrogen, high phosphorous and potassium fertilizer will encourage more blooms and fewer leaves. Cutting stems low after blooming will encourage a second bloom later in summer.
  • Image

Lavender

lavendersm
  • Lavandula angustifolia
  • Edible*: flower petals
  • Fragrant
  • Transplant plants into garden after last frost when temperatures remain above 40 degrees F.
  • Spacing: 2 plants per sq. ft.
  • Prune: Trim stems to encourage bushy growth, or leave untrimmed to allow flowers to develop.
  • Bloom: summer
  • Height: 20″-24″
  • Hint: Fertilize monthly. Plants require well-drained soil. Plants may drop leaves when stressed. Drought tolerant.
  • Drawing by Allison Langton

Echinacea

echinaceasm
  • Echinacea
  • Edible*: medicinal
  • Sow in spring.
  • Spacing: 1′ to 2′ wide
  • Bloom: mid-summer to early fall. Deadhead to prolong flowering and prevent self-seeding. For max bloom period, cut back some, and leave others to flower earlier. Good for cut and dried flowers.
  • Height: 1.5′ to 5′ tall
  • Hints: May leave fall blooms on to form seedheads for winter interest.
  • Drawing by Beatriz Mendoza

Tobacco Plant

tobaccoplantsm
  • Nicotiana tabacum
  • Grown for its fragrance.
  • CAUTION: poisonous if swallowed!
  • Seed directly in the garden early in summer (after frost), and cover lightly. Germination requires about two weeks.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: summer
  • Height: 1′-3′ depending on variety
  • Hint: Grow in groups to enjoy their fragrance. Nicotiana like a lot of moisture and nutrients. A high phosphorous fertilizer before first blooming will encourage more blooms. Prune as needed after each set of blooms to promote reblooming.

Snapdragons

snapdragonssm
  • Antirrhinum majus
  • Edible*: flower, bland to bitter flavor, heady fragrance
  • Surface sow indoors eight weeks before last frost. Expect germination in 10-20 days.
  • Transplant into garden after last frost.
  • Spacing: 1-4 plants per sq. ft.
  • Height: 12″-36″
  • Bloom: 80 to 100 days from planting; a favorite for cutting
  • Hint: Pinch back young plants after 4-6 leaves have appeared to encourage a bushy habit. Pick spent flowers often to encourage more blooms.

Primroses

primrosesm
  • Primula polyantha or vulgaris
  • Edible*: flowers
  • Plant seeds in a cold frame during winter.
  • Transplant into garden once they have obtained their second or third set of true leaves.
  • Spacing: one or two plants per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: early spring throughout summer and sometimes into fall
  • Height: less than 6″
  • Hint: Prefer damp, woodland-like conditions. Keep them looking their best by pruning dead leaves and spent blooms.
  • Drawing by Susan Branch

Nasturtium

Easy-to-grow and with multi-colored blooms, nasturtium makes a delightful surprise in salad. The leaves, flowers, and seeds are all edible and lend a peppery flavor to foods.

Nasturtium_r2_c2
  • Tropaeolum spp.
  • For earlier blooms, seeds may be started indoors four to six weeks before the last frost (early April).
  • For faster germination, first chip the seed coat with a nail clipper.
  • Sow seeds 1/2″ deep.
  • Spacing: one or two plants per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: 35-52 days from germination date
  • Height: varies with variety
  • Hint: Rich soil will give you a lot of leaf growth, while poor soil will give you more flower growth.

Venus Fly Trap

venusflytrapsm
  • Dionaea muscipula
  • Inedible
  • May be planted from fresh seed with good success.
  • Unless you are sure of the freshness of your seed, buy a start.
  • Spacing: 4 plants per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: beginning mid to late spring
  • Height:
  • Hints: They will overwinter in the garden and need this period of dormancy to rest. Native to boggy areas, so prefer poor, moist, acidic soils. A blend of 1/3 sand to 2/3 peat moss provides drainage and moisture retention. Never fertilize. Consider keeping them in their own pots on top of the soil, so adequate moisture and soil type can be maintained without negatively affecting the surrounding plants. (The Venus fly trap will appreciate a dish of water under its pot where the roots can easily reach water during dry times of year).

Lady’s Mantle

ladysmantlesm
  • Alchemilla mollis
  • Medicinal and edible but astringent taste
  • Plant starts outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Spacing: one or two plants per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: late spring to early summer
  • Height: 6″-12″
  • Hint: Deadhead flowers as they start to dry to prevent from reseeding.
  • Drawing by Amber Alexander

Lamb’s Ears

lambsearsm
  • Stachys byzantina
  • Edible*: small, healthy leaves; fragrant
  • Plant a start in spring.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: summer
  • Height: 6″-8″
  • Hint: An annual shearing keeps the plant looking neat and compact. Do not allow it to go to seed.

Bachelor’s buttons

cornflowersm
  • Centaurea cyanus, also known as cornflower
  • Edible*: flowers, sweet-to-spicy clove-like flavor; no fragrance
  • Sow 1/2″ deep from early to mid spring. May be sown again in fall if expecting a mild winter.
  • Spacing: 36 per sq. ft. Thin to 1-2 plants per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: early summer; good cut flowers
  • Height: 1′-3′
  • Drawing by Amanda Willoughby

Pansies

pansies small sketchbook
  • Viola tricolor var. hortensis
  • Edible: flower, sweet flavor
  • Plant seeds in late winter for early spring flowering or in summer for winter flowering.
  • Transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 65 degrees F.
  • Spacing: 1-2 per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: spring through winter, though they do not thrive in hot weather
  • Hints: Water regularly. Remove faded/dead flowers to multiply and prolong blooming.

Petunias

petuniasm
  • Petunia spp.
  • Multiflora species are best for mixed plantings (more tolerant of wet weather)
  • Edible*: flowers, mild flavor
  • Easiest to grow from transplants; if growing from seeds, start indoors 10-12 weeks before you want to transplant. Surface sow and keep watered. They need lots of light to germinate.
  • Transplant into garden after last frost.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Bloom: throughout summer, except in extreme heat
  • Height: 6″
  • Illustration

Hens and Chicks

houseleeksm
  • Sempervivum tectorum, also known as house leek or liveforever
  • Edible*: leaves, also as a salve for sunburn (similar to the use of aloe vera)
  • Surface sow seed in a damp cactus mix covered very lightly with peat moss, and keep in a warm room until germination. (They need light to germinate). If germination has not occurred within three weeks, place them in a plastic baggie with damp peat moss in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks and then, back in their pots at 70-75F temperatures. (Cold treatment is not usually needed). Sprinkle fine gravel around the plant after germination to conserve moisture.
  • Transplant into garden when plants have reached an inch in diameter.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Height: low growing with 12″ flower stalks
  • Bloom: summer but not usually in the first year
  • Hint: Pull flower off the plant once it has expired. Hens and chicks do not mind dry, nutrient-challenged conditions. They spread by runners. To propagate them in a new location, simply gently pull a “chick” off the mother, and plant it in a new spot.

Many thanks to Nikki Phipps for her very helpful article, whose thoughts sparked the inspiration for the children’s plot designs.

*Asbury Theological Seminary cannot take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally or for food.