17 Plants Kids Love To Grow From Seed
Do you want to experience the magic of planting seeds with your kids? Join gardening expert Laura Elsner as she shares 17 kid-favorite plants to grow from seed!
Learning to grow things from seeds is a great way to introduce your kids to gardening. How a little seed can sprout and grow into a plant is almost magic! But planting some seeds is easier and more satisfying than others. Here are 17 of my favorite seeds to plant with my kids.
What could be more satisfying to your little one than growing their own jack-o-lantern? Pumpkins are a great seed to start with your kids. The seeds are large, tactile, and distinctive, and they sprout and grow fairly easily.
There are many types of pumpkins you can grow. Kids can grow small, sweet pumpkins that are great for baking. There are big pumpkins perfect for carving. You can even grow warty and bumpy-looking pumpkins for a really scary Halloween face.
How to Grow
Growing pumpkins is fun for all ages! Start your pumpkins 4-6 weeks before the last frost. It might be tempting to start them extra early, but they will get huge and spindly and become difficult to transplant into the garden.
It’s best to sow your seeds directly into the garden after all the risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. This poses less risk to the tiny, fragile sprouts and ensures your pumpkin can shoot out deep taproots quickly.
If starting indoors, I like using compostable pots so that when it’s time to plant your pumpkin in the garden, you can plant the whole container so you don’t disturb the plant’s root system. Make sure whatever container you use has adequate drainage holes poked in the bottom so excess water can drain freely away from the plant.
Place your sprouted pumpkin in a sunny window (or under a grow light) and watch it grow. When the danger of frost passes in your area, plant it outside in a sunny spot, ensuring it has ample access to water as pumpkins are thirsty plants. Be sure to leave a lot of room for your pumpkins because they take up a lot of space in the garden. Depending on the variety, pumpkin vines can sprawl up to 15′ or 20′ long!
My sons and I grow sunflowers from seeds every year. They are a fun little project that ends in epic sunflowers in the fall.
The seeds are tactile and familiar. They’re the same seeds we like to snack on and the same seeds we find in bird feeders. It’s really interesting to see these seeds turn into flowers.
There are many varieties of sunflowers. We like ‘Mammoth’ because of their towering height. My family also loves ‘Teddy Bear Dwarf’ sunflowers. They have soft, fluffy plumes of flowers that are really fun.
How to Grow
Planting sunflowers can be done in two ways.
In many cases, it’s best to direct-sow them into the ground after the last frost. Pick rich, loamy soil that is moist but well-drained. Poke holes with your fingers and plant the seeds. It’s a great project with the kids because there is no real need to be neat and have straight rows. Go nuts. It looks better! I like to soak my seeds for a few hours or overnight before planting them.
You can also start sunflowers indoors. They don’t like being transplanted, so make sure not to start them too early; four weeks before the last frost date is fine. I prefer to use compostable containers that can degrade into the soil. This ensures even less root disturbance. However, if doing this, avoid planting too early, as sunflowers rapidly produce a large taproot, and this root can rapidly start to spiral in a small container.
To start them indoors, fill your container with evenly moist seed starting mix or potting soil. Poke a hole in the soil, drop in a seed, and cover it with soil. Then, place a dome or baggie over the container until it starts to sprout.
Once you see it sprout, remove the bag and place it in a sunny window or harden it off to the outdoor conditions. This is the fun part, where your kids can watch it grow! With regular watering, your child can watch the sunflower outgrow them quickly.
While tomato seeds are small, I like doing them with the kids because their germination rates are high, and they grow easily from seed. They are very forgiving plants to deal with.
Choose seeds from a variety you like. I find kids love the little cherry tomatoes because they are super sweet and easy to grab. ‘Yellow Pear’ is a favorite at our house because they are small and super-sweet with very low acidity.
How to Grow
Start your tomatoes inside to get a jump-start on the season. Grab some containers and seed starting mix or potting soil. I usually start my tomatoes 6-8 weeks before the final frost date in my area. Fill your containers with pre-moistened soil. Make sure your containers have excellent drainage, either by using a starter container like the Epic Cell Trays or by poking holes in the bottom.
Then, place a seed into each container and lightly cover it with soil. A set of tweezers works great for picking up the small seeds if you have any trouble. Give the soil a spritz with a spray bottle, then cover it with a plastic dome lid. Once you see them sprouting, remove the lid and place them in a sunny window or under grow lights. I like to put a fan on for a few hours daily to strengthen the stems (like the wind would).
Once they start growing, transplant them to bigger pots. You can bury the stems of your tomatoes up to the lowest set of leaves to encourage the plants to form more roots.
When they’re nearly ready to transplant, harden them off to the outdoor temperatures. Plant your new tomato plants in a sunny area of your garden. Water often and apply fertilizer as needed to ensure good growth.
Kids love chives. The long blades with tangy onion flavor are fun to pick and chew. They grow easily from seed.
I like starting chives indoors. You can just sprinkle them in the garden since they are aggressive and easily self-seed. But I think it’s more fun for the kids to watch them grow.
How to Grow
Take a container and poke holes in the bottom for drainage if it does not already have good drainage. Fill it with evenly moist seed starting mix or potting soil.
Chive seeds are tiny. Just pour some out and let the kids sprinkle them on the soil. Stir them in a bit, just enough to cover the seeds with a bit of soil. Then, place a dome lid or bag overtop to slow down moisture evaporation from the soil. Be sure the soil doesn’t dry out and that it stays damp to the touch.
Once they start sprouting, place your chives in a sunny window or under a grow light. Watch the little sprouts of hairy chives grow. Once they’ve reached a few inches tall, transplant the chives outside if desired once you adapt them to your outdoor temperatures.
You can also seed the chives into the container you want to keep them in, like a terracotta pot. Then, move the container outside for good access to sunlight once they have germinated.
Nasturtium seeds are so wrinkly and fun to plant. They grow into large, round leaves that crawl and trail. The leaves are spicy, and the flowers are bright and edible, too.
Nasturtiums will grow in just about any nook or cranny. The only rule is to make sure they are in a sunny spot. I like planting these with the kids because they are hard to mess up.
How to Grow
After the risk of frost has passed, I soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight. Then, we plant them. I stick them on the edges of raised beds to trail out. I’ve put them along the bottom edge of raised beds, and they crawl along the ground.
Nasturtiums can go into small cracks in soil, pots, and edges of beds. I let the kids put them wherever, and it’s always a happy surprise to see them pop up all over my garden.
Beans are a great tactile seed for kids. It’s also a great companion activity while reading the classic Jack and the Beanstalk. Your children can plant some magic beans right along with Jack!
Pick a variety of seeds you like to eat. If you aren’t a bean fan, try growing scarlet runner beans. These flowering vines grow huge, and the beans they produce look magical.
How to Grow
Beans are best started outdoors as they dislike disturbance to their roots. Start them once the risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. Any pole bean variety will want to climb, so first find a trellis, obelisk, fence, or something else they can clamber up as they grow.
Next, I soak the beans for a few hours or overnight. Poke holes in the soil around your support structure for the beans to climb. Place the beans in the holes and cover them with soil. Once they emerge, they grow quickly.
I have so many memories of the pea patch as a kid. Garden peas are sweet and delicious! They are also a fun seed to plant with kids.
How to Grow
Unlike many of the other seeds I’ve mentioned so far, you don’t need to wait until the danger of frost has passed to plant peas. They are a cool season crop. Plant rows of peas as soon as your soil is workable.
They will need support. I generally use wooden posts and netting for them to climb. I have the kids make a narrow trench, about an inch or two deep, along both sides of the netting.
Plant the peas in a row and cover them up. They are so much fun to watch grow and flower. Later, your kids can pick and eat the peas for a healthy and sweet snack. Consider an easy-to-spot variety with an edible pod, such as ‘Sugar Magnolia,’ for quick and easy harvesting.
While the taste of radishes isn’t a favorite for many kids, they are a quick, easy vegetable for a children’s garden. Sometimes, just growing is a joy. Try a milder radish that the kids might try, like ‘French Breakfast.’
How to Grow
Radishes can develop as quickly as only 21 days to maturity, so you can plant them often or in succession throughout the cool season. Select your planting location, poke a shallow hole, and put in a seed. They are small seeds and very round, so kids might drop some of them or have them roll out of their hands if they’re not careful! But if you overplant, the kids can go out and thin them as they grow.
If you leave them in the ground too long and they bolt and go to flower, leave them and let them form seed pods. The pods are a spicy treat to add to salads.
Growing the perfect summer treat is a big reward for any kid. Watermelons are easy to grow. As a warm-weather crop, watermelons are heat and sun-loving plants.
If you live in a cooler climate, consider growing these in a greenhouse to get an early start on the season or to ensure you have enough time to get truly massive fruit. A big melon variety might not grow to full size outside in a shorter growing season.
How to Grow
Depending on your area, you can directly sow them into moist, fertile, well-draining soil in a full-sun location. These can also be started indoors. Don’t start them too early, as they don’t transplant well if their roots start to spiral or become pot-bound!
Fill your containers with moist seed starter mix or potting soil. Have your kids plant the seed in the middle of the container. Cover the container with a dome or bag to keep in the moisture.
Once it sprouts, remove the cover and place it in a sunny window. Once the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, harden off and plant your watermelon outside in a sunny location. Water the vine often (it is called watermelon, after all!) and apply fertilizer throughout the season as needed.
Grass grows quickly and satisfies kids’ desire for nearly instant gratification! Plus, you can turn grass-growing into a fun and silly DIY project with your kids.
How to Grow
Grab spare containers and draw silly faces on them. Then, fill them with moist potting soil, spread grass seed over the top, and gently stir in.
Spritz the seeds often so they don’t dry out. Once it sprouts, place the pot in a sunny window. Soon, your silly face will grow spiky hair. Kids can trim it and ‘style’ it.
Once they are done, you can always use these as grass plugs to fill in brown spots in the lawn. I just add compost and put the sprouted grass right in.
Sweet peas are beautiful scented flowers that climb fences and trellises. They are easy to plant and make great little bouquets for kids to pick.
Please be sure that you grow sweet peas with older children, not little ones. While these create pods that look much like the edible peas we like to snack on, ornamental sweet peas are from an entirely different genus and species, and their pods are toxic. Do not let your children eat this plant!
How to Grow
Sweet peas should be directly sown outdoors. If you live in a cold climate, sow them in the early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. If you live in a mild climate, they can be planted in the fall for winter and spring blooms.
Soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight to soften them. Plant them in well-drained but moist soil. Plant them along fences or put up trellises for them to climb, and enjoy the beautiful, trailing vines filled with flowers throughout the cooler months of the year.
We’ve all heard of the pets, but did you know you can actually sprout and grow grocery store chia seeds? These microgreens can be planted for fun and used in salads and smoothies afterward.
How to Grow
Buy whole chia seeds, as chia flour won’t work for this purpose! Soak the seeds until they form a gel around each seed; this only takes a few hours, but you can soak them for up to 12 hours if needed.
Then, spread the seed gel on something that stays damp. Unglazed terracotta works great as a surface to apply your chia seeds onto. Pre-soak the pot for at least 24 hours to allow moisture to penetrate the clay pottery fully so the seeds won’t dry out as quickly. Keep the seeds moist by spraying them at least once a day, more often if your container is near any heating or air conditioning vents.
If you have older kids, pre-soak a terracotta pot and then let your children make patterns or images with the chia seeds on the side. A few seeds will fall off, and that’s okay – if they get enough seeds there, you won’t notice the few small gaps!
The chia seeds will sprout right on the container as long as they’re kept damp. Once they sprout and grow, they will eventually grow leggy and die back, but it’s a neat little growing project for kids.
I find with kids, if they grow it, they will at least try it. Lettuce is a fun and easy seed to grow, and it might get your kids eating more leafy greens. Lettuce seeds are tiny and can grow just about anywhere. I find cutting mixes are better for kids, so you don’t have to fuss with rows or thinning.
How to Grow
Just sprinkle them like fairy dust in any nook or cranny and watch them grow! Consider putting them into a shaker (like a sugar shaker) and having the kids sprinkle them around. Then, they can harvest the lettuce by pinching it or with scissors. They might eat a lot more salads this way.
Disclaimer: you won’t be growing avocado fruits anytime soon. But starting avocado seeds and watching them grow into houseplants is an amazing process that your kids will love. Kids love these little experiments, and it is a good exercise in patience and plant care.
How to Grow
First, you will need to buy and eat an avocado. When removing the seed, do so without damaging it. Wash the pit to rinse off any leftover flesh (but don’t use soap), then let it dry.
Next, grab some toothpicks and stick them into the sides of the avocado pit. These are to suspend it in a cup of water. Fill a cup with water. Place the flat end of the seed in the water and the pointed end up. Place the glass in bright but indirect sun. Change the water daily.
You don’t necessarily have to transplant the avocado sprout into soil. The plant will grow for quite a while in the jar of water. But if you’d like to keep it going for a while, once roots start to develop at the bottom of the pit, wait until they’re at least an inch or two long and then plant it. To do this, remove the toothpicks and bury the seed halfway into moist, well-drained potting soil. Choose a container with drainage holes.
Place the plant in a sunny location and keep it evenly moist but not soggy. Then you and your kids can watch it grow!
Corn is a great plant to teach kids about seeds. You will actually be planting small kernels of corn, which grow into new corn plants. It’s also a great direct sow project that gets your kids outside and in the dirt.
How to Grow
Once the risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, it is the perfect time to plant your corn seeds. Corn grows best in rows or squares so they can pollinate each other, and for best pollination, you’ll want to have at least 12 plants (18 is even better) side by side. Choose a full-sun location. Prepare your beds by adding compost. The soil should be loose, rich, and well-drained.
Have the kids dig shallow, roughly 2″ deep trenches. Line the corn seeds in the trench, spacing them 8″-12″ apart, and cover them with about a half inch of soil. Water the new seeds in (gently so they don’t wash away).
Wait and enjoy watching them sprout and grow. Keep them watered and have your kids pick any weeds growing between the corn plants.
In the winter, I am always looking for ways to garden. I love growing firecracker vines in late winter for a flush of spring blooms. It’s also a fun project to get the kids growing and taking care of seedlings and watching them bloom.
How to Grow
Firecracker vines can be planted directly into the ground after the risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. It’s a climbing vine that needs support.
I like planting it in a container for spring blooms inside the house. Take a decorative pot that has good drainage and fill it with evenly moist potting soil. Then, have the kids spread the seeds across the soil’s surface and lightly cover them with a thin layer of soil. Place a lid or plastic bag over the top like a tent to retain moisture. Wait until they start to sprout.
Remove the dome lid or bag and place it in a sunny window. The kids will love watching them grow and sprout true leaves and then grow into vines and bloom flowers that explode from red to yellow like fireworks.
I’ve never had luck planting them outside after. I usually just enjoy the plant for a few months and dispose of it. But you can try to cut them back and bring them outside after the danger of frost passes.
Cucumbers are great for kids to snack on. They are easy and vigorous, making them great for kids. They also have nice, large, tactile seeds for kids to plant.
How to Grow
Cucumbers are good to sow outside after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. Plant the seeds into moist, light, and fertile soil. Keep them watered and watch them sprout. They grow quickly, making them a great plant for kids to observe.
These can also be planted in containers indoors about four weeks before the last frost. Don’t plant them any earlier, as they don’t transplant well if their roots are disturbed.
Plant seeds into evenly moist seed starting mix or potting soil. Cover them with a dome lid or plastic bag. Once it sprouts, remove the bag and place it in a sunny location. Keep it watered but not soggy. Harden them off, then plant them in the garden.
Planting seeds is a great project to do with kids. Learning to garden is a satisfying and important skill. Kids also love watching things grow. It’s like magic! Introducing your kids to seeds at a young age will help them develop a lifelong love of gardening.