Sensory Plants for Children – A Helpful Guide

Create a sensory garden for your kids that is not only beautiful to look at but teases all their other senses too! These sensory plants can offer a great way to enhance your children’s imagination and get them interested in the garden world.

Most gardens offer a visual appeal, but a sensory garden is designed to stimulate all five senses. Here we’ve broken down the senses into categories and given you ideas for plants you can include in your garden.

These are plants which you can either grow in garden beds or a greenhouse, with the latter option being preferential to those who wish for their plants to receive additional temperature and weather resistance.

1. Sight


Children are usually attracted to bright coloured flowers and leaves.  You can ask your kids to make a painting of these following plants:

1. Gunnera (Gunnera manicata)
A large, clump-forming herbaceous perennial growing to 2.5 m tall by 4 m or more.

2. Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
These are sun-loving, bright blue flowers.

3. Chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata)
Amazing three-toned foliage that smells of lemon.

4. Heuchera (Chocolate Ruffles)
Purple leaves with chocolate coloured undersides and pretty, pale pink flowers.

5. Swiss chard (Bright Lights)
The brightly coloured stems and foliage of this unusual vegetable and are as tasty as they are beautiful.

2. Sound


Sit back and relax in your garden with your children and listen to all the sounds of nature around you.

1. Bamboo (Phyllostachys)
Pretty foliage which whispers in the wind, with its stems knocking together, it creates a hollow sound.

2. Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum)
A kind of plant that can make a graceful sound to your garden.

3. Miscanthus oligostachyus (Nanus Variegatus)
Pretty bamboo-like foliage that creates a rustling noise.

4. Greater quaking grass (Briza maxima)
A grass that rustles in the wind with nodding, lantern-like heads of flowers.

5. Sweetcorn (Zea mays)
Another rustler and good to eat too!

3. Smell


Heavenly scented, fragrant plants are wonderful to enjoy in your garden. See if your kids can recognise a few of the more common smells below.

1. Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya)
This plant is a small genus of aromatic evergreen shrubs.

2. Sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
This pretty flowering climber gives off a strong sweet scent. Cut the flowers regularly to encourage more growth.

3. Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
Lonicera is a popular garden plant with highly perfumed flowers.

4. Heuchera (Chocolate Ruffles)
Purple leaves with chocolate-coloured undersides and pretty, pale pink flowers.

5. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
These plants are known as lemon balm, balm or balm mint, and are perennial herbs in the mint family.

4. Touch


Get your children to touch these plants and describe what they feel like. They will surely love the soft velvety feel of the plants below.

1. Lambs ears (Stachys byzantina)
Well-known ground-covering perennial, they are popular for soft, fluffy foliage.

2. Pussy Willow (Salix caprea)
The fluffy white blossoms of the pussy willow resemble silk.

3. Silk Tree (Albizia)
Silk Tree (also known as Mimosa) for its crisp, clean compound frond-like leaflets and pink, pin-cushion fragrant flowers that cover the tree during the summer.

4. Silver sage (Salvia argentea)
A cotton wool-like down covers its large, silvery-white leaves.

5. Tamarix (Tamarisk)
These plants are characterised by slender branches and grey-green foliage. The bark of young branches is smooth and reddish-brown.

5. Taste


School children (under supervision) can have great fun trying out these different tasting plants.

1. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum)
A genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants.

2. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Highly fragrant leaves used to flavour meat and fish. Plant it in a place where people will brush by and release its scent.

3. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
As well as having delicious foliage that can be used in salads, this plant also produces pretty flowers in pink, mauve or purple.

4. Water Cress (Nasturtium officinale)
A rapidly growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic plant that is known as leaf vegetables.

5. Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
Children will love hunting for the small, sweet, delicious fruits.