Plants That Kids Love to Touch

From the fuzzy fiddleheads of ferns to the touch-responsive leaves of the sensitive plant, many plants extend their leaves, buds, stems, blooms and seed heads, encouraging you to come closer. Here are just a few.

Kids love to \"pet\" the fuzzy, red, catkin-like blooms of the chenille plant, in both its trailing and shrubby forms. Whether you choose to grow chenille indoors as a houseplant or outdoors in-ground, this lovable plant will attract the interest of your garden visitors.
Other plants with soft or fuzzy flowers:
Mexican bush sage (Salvia farinacea)
gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
cockscomb (Celosia sp.)
lemon bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus)
pussy toes (Antennaria dioica): fuzzy flowers and foliage
foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia): spiky flowers and fuzzy foliage

A Lot to Play With

All parts of the lotus are interesting in one way or another. The flower is beautiful and large, about six to eight inches across. After the blooms are spent, the seed heads dry, forming pockmarked holes in which the seeds rest. When shaken, the seed heads sound like maracas. Cut a cross-section of the tuber, and a honeycomb structure is revealed.
Each lotus leaf is a round, wavy disk supported by a stem that attaches at the middle. The leaf is waxy to the touch and has hydrophobic properties; when water drops hit the leaf, they roll around like beads of mercury. Kids love to play with this plant.

The exquisitely elaborate flowers of the passion vine (Passiflora) invite closer inspection. Other plants with inviting flowers:
globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)
bee balm (Monarda didyma)
Clematis flowers and seed heads
goldenball lead tree or lemonball tree (Leucaena retusa)
statice (Limonium sp.)
love-in-the-mist (Nigella damascena)
strawflower (Bracteantha bracteata)
'Autumn Joy' sedum (Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy'), fresh and dried flower heads

The giant globe-like blooms of Scadoxus make you stop in your tracks. Each flower is a red spectacle of fireworks attached to a stem.
Other bulbs with flowers that invite you to come closer:
pineapple lily (Eucomis bicolor)
allium 'Globemaster'
Italian arum, fruit spikes

The fuzzy stems and leaves of Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) complement its creamy-yellow flowers. In warmer climates, the foliage can be enjoyed year round.
Other plants with fuzzy stems and foliage:
lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
Cuban oregano (Plectranthus sp.)
silky dogwood (Cornus amomum)
cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), fuzzy stems and fiddle heads

Of the many ornamental grasses that are fun to touch, there's one that truly stands out: The threadlike blades of Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) feel like hair. You simply can't help running your fingers through this grass.
Other touchable grasses and grass-like plants:
fountain grass (Pennisetum)
sedge (Carex)
love grass (Eragrostis)
feather reed grass (Calamagrostis)
cat-tail (Typha)
horsetail (Equisetum)
papyrus (Cyperus)
hair grass (Deschampsia)

With its thickness and pubescence, this large-leafed perennial feels like the fuzzy ear of a puppy. Several varieties of verbascum offer pastel-colored flowers that contrast nicely with the silvery leaves, making it a showier alternative to the popular lamb's ear.
Other perennials with fuzzy foliage:
Helichrysum 'Silver Mist'
Dichondra 'Silver Falls'
woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)
silver sage (Salvia argentea)
dusty miller (Senecio cineraria or Centaurea cineraria)
rockrose (Cistus incanus)

The pubescent buds of magnolias are part of nature's subtleties that delight the gardener who notices this characteristic. Although it may be the spring flowers or leaves that attract you to magnolias, it's the buds that want your attention.
Other plants with fuzzy buds:
pussy willow
paw paw
rabbit's foot fern (Davallia fejeensis) or squirrel's foot fern (D. trichomanoides), fuzzy rhizomes

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