Activities - Growing

Mustard and Cress

One of the easiest things to grow with children is Mustard and Cress, especially as it grows quickly, which is good as children don't have to wait too long for a result.


Two simple ideas to make growing cress fun.


Wash the yoghurt pot and either peel off the wrapper or paint the outside of the pot white.

Glue on some eyes a nose and a mouth, to make a face.

Wet some scrunched-up kitchen roll and push this into the pot followed by a thin damp layer of cotton wool, leaving a gap of about 2cm below the top of the pot.

Sprinkle a mixture of the mustard and cress seeds on top of the cotton wool pressing them down lightly.

Leave the pot in a warm light place, and look daily for signs of growth which should happen after about 7 days. (Check that the cotton wool remains damp and add a little water if necessary.)

Cress Caterpillar

A variation on the pot is to grow a cress caterpillar.

Cut the bottom half off an egg carton and then cut it again length ways so you are left with two, long shapes each with three compartments.

To make one caterpillar paint the outside of the carton green with a yellow stripe around the top.

Glue on some eyes, a nose and mouth and make two pipe cleaners into antennae and fasten them so that they stick out above the eyes.

Line the base with a strip of plastic (to prevent the carton from going soggy).

Add some scrunched-up kitchen roll and cotton wool as before, leaving a space from the top of about 1cm.

Sprinkle the seeds along, pressing them down lightly.

Leave as before, checking daily for growth and dampness.

Growing mustard and cress from seed


You will need

A Packet of both Mustard and
Cress Seeds

An old yoghurt pot

An egg carton

Kitchen roll

Cotton wool





Cress caterpillar

Mushroom Spore PrintMushroom spore print

Place a mushroom cap, gill side down on a piece of white paper, then leave it for several hours.
Carefully lift the mushroom off the paper and you should see a spore print of the underside of the mushroom made up from thousands of spores.

Carrot Tops

Growing carrot topsCarrot tops are very simple to grow.

Try to use a carrot that shows some sign of a shoot on the top.

Slice about 2cm off the top of the carrot and place this on a saucer with a small amount of water in it. Then just leave in a light place like a windowsill making sure to continually top up the water. In a few days leaves should start to appear from the top of the carrot.

Bulbs for Christmas

Many different bulbs can be grown indoors for around Christmas time and hyacinths are probablyGrowing hyacinth bulbs the easiest and most popular.

*Unfortunately hyacinth bulbs can irritate some people's skin so use a glove or plastic bag to handle the bulb.

You will need

A prepared hyacinth bulb (Available from a local garden centre)
Bulb Fibre
3"-4" ( 7cm-10cm) plant pot

Fill the pot about half full with the bulb fibre and then place the bulb in the centre of the pot. Fill the rest of the pot with compost, leaving about 2cm of the top of the bulb showing. Stand the pot in a small dish of water and let the bulb fibre soak it up. Be careful not to get the fibre too wet or the bulb may go mouldy.

Place the pot in a dark, well ventilated, cool place for at least 8 weeks. By this time the shoot of the hyacinth should be well out of the bulb.

Bring the hyacinth into a light cool room and as the flower starts to appear you can move the pot into a warmer room.

Daffodils and Narcissi can also be grown for indoor flowering, although they will not flower quite as early. The same growing method should be used but using a larger pot, to put several bulbs in at a time.

To produce a pot that is full with blooms you can plant the bulbs in two layers. Plant the first at the bottom of the pot, then cover these with compost so it is just level over them and plant the second layer right on top with their tips just showing over the top of the compost.


Growing Sunflowers

All children love growing plants from seeds and sunflowers are one of the most rewarding plants as they grow so fast.

You will need

A packet of Sunflower Seeds
3"-4" plant pots to start off the seeds
Large plant pots to transplant the plants into
Lots of water!

Plant the seeds, one in each small pot, water well and leave in a warm spot like a windowsill to germinate. This should happen quite quickly. Keep well watered and when the plants have outgrown the small pots transplant them into the large pots or if you prefer straight into the garden. With lots of watering the sunflowers should grow very tall.