ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Horticulture: One Way Children Learn Responsibility

Updated on September 26, 2012

Oprah Winfrey often refers to children as “little people” and refutes those that categorize them as ‘of tomorrow’. The implication is that the value of kids should not be discounted or delayed until sometime in the future; instead, children should be accepted as complete individuals now.

I agree and believe that children will become respectable individuals and leaders when adults begin early to cultivate their self-governance. There really are no born leaders but only inborn personality traits that can be reared to greatness or left to spoil.

One of the easiest ways to teach kids responsibility—before a puppy, kitten, or goldfish—is to let them care for a plant. That's right—horticulture. Okay, easiest really means easier than and a precursor to a puppy or kitten. If it were all that easy a thing to do then there might not be enough challenge in it to shape responsibility.

That stated, plants can be challenging to grow—just ask the host of brown thumbers—but when they do grow they are exciting to watch and produce a feeling of accomplishment, not unlike how children make parents proud. Kids, even toddlers, can participate in the process of growing plants and provide parents an early look at several things about them: approach to task, decision-making, value judgments, dealing with setback and success, action and accountability, and more.

Proving Our Kids' Responsibility

If there is one thing we know about children it is they always want to help. Now what could be better than allowing them to make nearly all of the decisions about their own plant?

So, if they’re old enough let them research the many flowers and plants and select the one they wish to raise. Just make sure it’s challenging enough, like a Dieffenbachia or Azalea (nothing easy or difficult); and it should not be toxic to humans or animals. (The Dieffenbachia, for example, is a toxic plant. Make your decision based on your child's age and responsibility.)

At the store let them pick the seeds or bulbs (if growing entirely) or the particular plant they want. Let them also choose the pot they would like. This is exciting to children. Make it personal for the child: have them name their plant. Do everything to communicate that they are parent and doctor of the plant.

Watching Them Work

Now the real work begins. Each plant has its own requirements—some need much watering and others need very little; some need direct light, others indirect, and still others low light; some can live outdoors and others cannot; temperature is important because too low a temperature, for some, can mean death. These are major factors.

Minor but still important factors are soil conditions, dead leaves and debris, pests and disease, plant food and fertilizer, and cleaning the plant. With time and only if your little one is a highly successful plant grower will he or she need to be concerned about repotting and pruning—but how rewarding would it be if your 12 or 13-year old were still caring for this plant?

There are a plethora of decisions that must be made to keep a plant not only alive but thriving. Alive can be a shriveled, ugly mess but thriving is the admiration and envy of friends and neighbors—and your child will have done it all. But the parent will be the one to benefit the most by accessing a window into the child’s personality and the chance to cut-and-nip at character long before adolescence.

There are many plants from which to choose. I’ve listed two good ones already, but that choice is better left to you and the child. Just think of the plant as a prelude to your young adult’s new car, apartment, and even child. Who would have thought horticulture could be so instrumental!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • ithabise profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael S 

      7 years ago from Danville, VA

      Thanks for sharing a wonderful experience, TM. My nephews did this with their dad this summer. So rewarding it was! Cheers to you!

    • TeachableMoments profile image


      7 years ago from California

      I couldn't agree more. My daughter learned so much while caring for our garden. I truly believe the experience helped my daughter gain a sense of pride. She began to understand what it means to be responsible for another living thing. My daughter watered the garden and helped pick weeds. She even sang to the plants! My daughter watched our garden grow from tiny seeds to food we eat for dinner. It was an amazing experience. Thank you for this great hub. Voted up.

    • ithabise profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael S 

      7 years ago from Danville, VA

      I think it's a winner too, Alocsin...indeed a run-up to weightier responsibilities. Thanks for commenting.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      What an excellent idea for kids.It might be a worthy test for a child who is wanting a pet -- start first with a plan and see how they do. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • ithabise profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael S 

      7 years ago from Danville, VA

      Thanks jesimpki. Plants are exciting creations!

    • jesimpki profile image


      7 years ago from Radford, VA

      Plants are a great teaching tool, I agree. Voted up!

    • ithabise profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael S 

      7 years ago from Danville, VA

      Bluebird, you touch upon something becoming lost in my generation and the younger ones that follow--loving and caring for the earth. I think it's a wonderful catalyst to open our eyes to what matters, which I feel are things of soul, not phones and music and image. What matters outlasts us.

      I agree about the photo. It was the first one I saw and my searching was done! Thanks for reading and the encouragement!

    • bluebird profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful subject, wonderful hub. It is beautiful to teach our children about the earth,what grows out of it and number one: caring for planet earth.

      Thank you for pointing this out for us all. And the picture is priceless, just beautiful!

      Children really CAN be taught to become caring adults!

      Good job ithabise! Keep it up!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)