The Q&A Archives: Plants in the Classroom

Question: I am planning an activity for elementary school students about the needs of plants. I want to have the students do some fairly simple experiments comparing plants with and without water and plants with and without light. I was wondering if you could recommend types of plants that would show quick reactions to not receiving adequate light or water. For example, which type of plant would droop after not being watered for a few days? I appreciate any suggestions you can offer.

Answer: In my experience, young seedlings of almost any kind are the quickest to respond dramatically and visibly to stresses such as low light or lack of moisture, so you might try the proverbial beans or marigolds for your experiments in plant abuse. While common houseplants will also show results, the length of time needed for a good illustration of the point could be weeks or months rather than days mainly because more mature plants are more resiliant and are just not growing as quickly as seedlings. Good luck with your project!

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