Pros: easy to use, really works
Cons: could be too small for anything other than a learning tool
My son is now 9 years old and a Science geek. He truly loves Science and Social Studies and all of these things I never really got into as a child. Still, knowing his love for experiments and fun things to do, I (er rather the Easter Bunny) put a Grow Your Own Sensitive Plant in his basket. It costs only a few dollars and came in a tiny pot wrapped with cardboard directions wrapped around it. Everything we needed was inside.
So this summer we decided it was the perfect time to start growing our plant. The directions were on the underside of the wrapping and easy to follow. Small baggies with tiny materials were inside the pot and kept safe. Inside we found a small bag of "potting soil" and an even tinier bag of seeds. Due to the overall miniature size of all of this, I'd still recommend adult help, though I felt he could comfortably handle all of this alone and safely. The directions stated to sprinkle some of the soil into the pot in order to fill the bottom and about 1/2 way up the sides. Then to place only 10 seeds into the pot and gently press them into the soil. Then cover with the remaining soil and water well. There were more than 10 seeds in the packet (I'd say more like 15 - 18) and so he needed help with these tiny things. We made the decision to dump them out into my hand and then he'd pick them up and place them in the pot while counting. The packaging suggested "planting" the other seeds - I just scattered them outside in the yard.
Okay, now for the waiting.
The soil stayed moist for about 3 days, and then we needed our first watering. There are no holes in the bottom of the pot, so we watered carefully. We decided to leave the plant outside on the ledge of our brick walled carport, because we were worried none of the windows in our house seem to get enough direct sun. (we learned that from a previous failed experiment)
Within a week we found our first sprout! That was an exciting time! Then 24 hours later we had 3 more sprouts popping up next to the first! From there we had to wait until the sprouts budded and grew these "sensitive" tips. This is the part you touch that closes in on itself. We had 5-6 of these in the small pot within a week and a half. We found we needed to water the tiny pot once every 3 days, and the pot did not have any drain holes in it.
The plant itself did really get any "taller" and once the sensitive ends sprouted they seemed to come out maybe an inch and then stop. It certainly was a tiny plant housed in a tiny pot ... and stayed that way. Since that was exactly what I was looking for, I was thrilled! The plant continues to flourish with outdoor sun and water. When my son goes and checks it daily he is able to touch the leaves and get them to close. We researched on-line what type of plant this actually was, and one of the pieces of information he found was that this is also called a "Tickle Me" plant. He found that amusing, and so now every time he goes out to check on it and touch it, he talks to it and says to the plant, "I'm going to tickle you!" Kinda cute to see my growing boy still be a kid.
We've decided to just let the plant grow and stay alive as long as it can. The packaging stated that we could transfer it out of the pot and plant it. I do not have a "green thumb" and most of the things I attempt to put in this Southern red clay they call soil don't do well. My son doesn't want me to "kill the plant like you usually do Mom, no offense" ... so our plan is just to leave it in the pot and wish it a happy life.
I think the Grow Your Own Sensitive Plant was a great addition to my son's basket, and at 9 year's old he really got a lot of pleasure out of a $2 to $3 purchase. I think as well this would make a fun project for any family, daycare or school and teach a lot of related science and life skills in a fun way. I will be looking for other "kits" like this the next time I need to make a basket (or stocking) for my son.