• Hannah Tuck

16 Amazing Plants for a Sensory Garden

A sensory garden is an amazing way to introduce your child to the amazing tastes, textures, smells, sounds and sights in nature. I love gardening and I love sharing interesting plants with my sister who has Down Syndrome. Some smells delight her, some plants she touches make her giggle and some plants she would be mesmerized by what they look like. Your garden does not have to be a full size outdoor project. You can choose as many or as few plants as you like. I have chosen 16 of my favorite sensory plants; most involve 1 of the 5 senses, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Many of the plants I suggest can grow in pots and containers or trays indoors. You can even use other sensory elements from nature like feathers, bark, dry leaves and bird song alongside the plants. Some of the ideas are more involved so if your child is older or they have siblings these plants can be a fun, educational journey. For each plant I have mentioned which senses I think it’s best for, but I encourage all the plants get felt.


I have tried to keep the ideas for the sensory garden as cheap as possible. Some of the plants can be grown from seed. Seed packets often contain hundreds of seeds and the cost can be split between friends or family if they want to get involved with growing things too. The seed prices are a guideline and I have taken them from Wilko but they can easily be picked up elsewhere, in stores and online.





Starting from the quickest and cheapest first:


Dandelions

  • Sight and Taste

  • Cost FREE!

  • Can be used immediately

The bright yellow flower is striking and can be found in most gardens. The flower is completely edible but does have a bitter taste.

Moss

  • Touch

  • Cost FREE!

  • Can be used immediately

Moss grows freely in damp environments. You can collect it and keep it growing at home by misting it with water.

Beetroot tops

  • Sight and Taste

  • Cost of fresh beetroot for dinner

  • Takes 1 week

This is super easy and great fun to watch grow. If you cut off the top of the beetroot and place it in a dish of water it will regrow new leaves which can be eaten like kale. They also have a beautiful red stem.

Carrot tops

  • Sight, Taste and Touch

  • Cost of fresh carrots for dinner

  • Takes 1 week

Like with the beetroot, if you cut off the top of the carrot and place it in a dish of water it will regrow leaves. These can also be eaten and they feel lovely and lace like.

Mint

  • Smell and Taste

  • A plant for 50p!

  • Immediate use

Mint is an interesting smelling herb. Asda sells a small plant for just 50p. If you wanted to grow it from seed it would take about 12 weeks.

Lavender

  • Smell and Touch

  • Cost can be free

  • 2 to 4 weeks to grow

Lavender is an amazing herb. It has a beautiful smell particularly when touched. When it flowers it can be used for all type of projects around the home. I recommend with lavender to grow it from cuttings. If you try and grow it from seed it will take you most of the year. This is a plant that will need sourcing but will save you so much time. All you need to do is cut off a stem about 6 inches long that has no flowers and strip off the leaves on the bottom half of the stick. You can then pop it in water and watch its roots grow. Make sure the leaves don’t touch the water. You can later plant the plant in compost.

Rosemary

  • Smell, Taste and Touch

  • A plant costs 50p

  • Can be used straight away

Rosemary, like the lavender can be propagated in water, that’s the technique that I mentioned above. With rosemary and the lavender, if you don’t know anyone with an existing plant, you may need to purchase one. Rosemary can often be easily found as it’s sold by supermarkets for about 50p.

Radish

  • Sight and Taste

  • Seeds cost £1.50

  • 3 to 4 weeks to grow

The bright red radishes are interesting to look at and have a strong taste.

Nasturtium

  • Sight, Smell and Taste

  • Seeds cost £2

  • 5 weeks to flowering

These beautiful flowers are yummy to eat. They taste quite peppery. If you don’t want to wait for the flowers you can eat the leaves as well but you miss out on the sight element.

Marigold

  • Sight, Smell and Taste

  • Seeds cost £1

  • 8 weeks to flower

These bright bold flowers taste slightly spicy and a bit sharp. Very interesting to try.

Lemon Balm

  • Smell, Taste and Touch

  • Seeds cost £1

  • 10 weeks to grow

Lemon balm is a beautiful lemony herb and it releases its smell when it’s brushed or crushed, great fun for children to grab or touch.

Palms or Grasses

  • Sound and Touch

  • Free if you can collect or a small cost

  • Can be used immediately

Palms and grasses are popular houseplants or garden plants. If you know somebody with grasses growing (the tall wispery kinds not your bog standard lawn) they may let you collect some for free. Small palms can be picked up easily in supermarkets as they are often put in mixed pots of house plants.

Lamb's ear

  • Touch!

  • Plants cost around £6

  • Immediate use

The biggest cost of all the plants I recommend but my absolute favorite thing to touch. So soft, just like a lamb’s ear.

Sweet Peas

  • Sight and Smell

  • Seeds cost 50p

  • 13 weeks for the plant to flower

Sweet peas make the most wonderful scent and fascinating trailing runners. You can grow it up things or let it ramble across the windowsill.

Sunflowers

  • Sight and Touch

  • Seeds cost £1

  • Takes a whopping 16 weeks to grow

The longest plant to grow on our list but nothing beats a bright yellow sunflower and the feel of its seeds.

Blackberries

  • Taste and Touch

  • Free if collected in season or easily found in supermarkets

  • Immediate use

Now this isn’t the plant but the berries. And I have snuck it on the end of the list because Blackberries have a fun texture and taste lovely. And Blackberry collecting is one of my sister’s favorite things to do. Having a good old feel and a squish and the way your fingers get stained pink is great fun.

I hope this inspires you to get growing for your child. If you have questions or you want to share your sensory garden pictures I’m on instagram at @all_tucked_in_

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