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Last updated: Fri. Dec. 13, 2013 - 09:03 am EDT


Gardening Column: Gifts for young green thumbs

Try a garden of plants or butterflies.


It will soon be Christmas. I know some of you are looking for last-minute gifts for children, and, of course, I recommend garden-related gifts. All too often many of us give up trying to find something unique and special and go for the gift cards or cash. But you can order these items online and have them by Christmas and know that there will be a delighted child on the receiving end. (From the recommendations along with the product description, many of the parents enjoyed them as much as the children did.) I discovered the following (and more than I could list here) fun ideas for children at

Hinterland Trading Air Plant Tillandsia Kit Glass Terrarium Round with Knobby Starfish and Seashells. This kit makes a little houseplant that can be easily assembled by children age 6 or 7 and older.

•Tillandsia needs bright, indirect light; a south-facing window would work well. If you don't have a bright window, you can also grow Tillandsia under a grow light or set this small garden under a lamp that has a compact florescent light bulb in it for several hours a day.

•An air plant needs to be misted a few times a week, or if it is sitting on stones, take the plant and submerge it in water for a bit once or twice a week. Then once a month mist the plant with a diluted organic fertilizer.

•I'm told you need to be aware that if you get an air plant for your child, you yourself can become addicted to these tiny, easy-to-care-for plants and will soon have them everywhere.

Mossy Meadows Gnome Garden and the Enchanted Fairy Garden. These kits come with small figures and several paint colors that can be used to personalize the gnomes and fairies for the garden. The kit also comes with grass seed. If the seed is viable and is planted and watered per instructions, it will begin to grow in a couple of days and then will need to be trimmed. Essentially this is a miniature landscape and can teach the child how to plant and care for grass as well as allow them to use their imaginations to design the garden. You will probably look for other small things, furniture and other figures, to add to the wee garden. An adult can enjoy this as much as a child, so while spending time during the holidays putting together puzzles and playing games, you can build an enchanted garden together and watch it grow.

Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden. This comes in packaging that a child can easily open and includes a mail-in voucher for five butterfly larvae and special food needed to feed the larvae. There will be an additional cost of $5 and take extra time to receive the essentials to begin the process. You are assured that you just need to send in the coupon for the larvae and food and when it comes follow the instructions on how to use the reusable, collapsible habitat that comes with it to grow your own butterflies. This is for children age 4 and older.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.

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