5 Flowering Plants That Will Make Your Kids Love Gardening

I’m a horticulturist by trade, so my kids get to live around all kinds of plants, both usual and unusual. We only have about a 1/10 acre yard, but we grow a lot of plants! If you ever need plant suggestions for Oklahoma, I’m your gal. 

And as you’re planning your gardens this spring – here are some of my favorite go-tos: 

  1. False Vervain (Stachytarpheta sp.) – I get this one every year for our containers in the front yard, but you can plant it in the ground, too. It’s a tropical plant that needs to be replanted every year, but so worth it! It reminds me of Dr. Seuss the way the wavy flower stalks reach about 3 feet out on all sides of the plant. It comes in deep red, lighter red and purple. An added bonus is that butterflies AND HUMMINGBIRDS love this plant! Tell me you don’t love it after the first time you plant it in the garden. Hint on where to find this plant: I buy mine at Bustani Plant Farm in Stillwater each year.
Releasing monarch butterflies near the false vervain plant in the container in 2018

2. Miniature Irises (Iris sp.) – These tiny tots in the garden are just too cute and relatable to your own tiny humans. Irises grow from rhizomes in the ground, they come back every year and are super low maintenance plants that can thrive on neglect. A plus to miniature irises is that they don’t take up as much space as standard-sized irises. This particular one, called Plum Quirky, was gifted to me by one of my Master Gardener volunteers. My kids love to see the small colorful blooms on it every spring. Where to get them? Try searching online or go to your local Iris Society rhizome sale in the fall. Oklahoma Iris Society has a sale at Will Rogers Gardens every September. 

This is a miniature iris called Plum Quirky. It only gets about 8″ tall.

3. American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) – My kids love the bright fuchsia-colored berries on this plant. And don’t worry, the berries are not poisonous if your children decide to try a few. This plant is a deciduous shrub that loses it’s leaves in the fall, after which a beautiful display of berries is left behind. I like to cut mine back to about 6 inches off the ground every winter. This keeps it uniform in shape and size because we have ours planted right next to the driveway. This is a fairly common plant that you can find at many nurseries around here. 

My girls love to pick the fuchsia-colored berries off of this deciduous shrub.

4. Ornamental Onions (Allium sp.) – The alliums that bloom on stalks taller than your toddler or young child are the best. Mine consider it a photo op every year. The flowers are globe-shaped and come in colors like white, pink, maroon, and purple. They’re very low maintenance flowering bulbs that come back each spring. A bonus with these plants is they make great dried flowers for indoor decorations. Just like the false vervain, these also remind me of Dr. Seuss illustrations. So fun! This is another plant you can find in pretty much any nursery in OKC, or you can buy them online. 

These Mt. Everest allium flowers get taller than my children.

5. Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus sp.) – Get you a red-flowered one and it’s sure to allure kids and adults alike. This is a perennial plant that comes back every spring and starts flowering in the middle of summertime here. My kids also love to use the sticks as swords when I cut them back in late fall. The blooms on this plant can get up to 8″ across. I mean, whoah. You can find this one at most nurseries, and the flower colors range from white to pink to red. 

This Holy Grail hibiscus is a show-stopper every summer.

What are your kids’ favorite flowering plants in the garden?

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Growing up in Devils Den State Park, Arkansas has certainly influenced my career choice. I'm an Extension Horticulture Educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service via Oklahoma State University. I have 3 little children and a kind-hearted husband that stays at home with them while I work (more than) full time. We love quality time together, whether it be going to church, hanging out with cousins, checking our plants in the garden, or anything else. We love to travel and hope to bring our kids on our international adventures in the distant future.


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