Even if you don’t have kids or pets, you don’t have to come home to an empty house. Live houseplants can add a little life and light to your space in a gratifying and often fragrant way without requiring a lot of care. That’s especially true for the kitchen, often overlooked as a perfect place to try out your green thumb.
Before we get to our suggestions of beautiful, low-maintenance plants that can liven up your family’s favorite room, let’s look at some of the benefits of kitchen plants.
Here are four benefits of having plants in the kitchen:
1. They help us breathe: Through photosynthesis, plants turn the carbon dioxide we exhale back into oxygen. We need oxygen to live, so win-win.
2. They care about us: A famous NASA study found that plant leaves and roots remove toxic vapors and low levels of formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. So we get cleaner air!
3. They keep us healthy: Through a process called transpiration, houseplants increase humidity levels by evaporating small amounts of moisture through their leaves. Norwegian scientists even found that indoor plants decreased dry skin, sore throats, dry coughs and colds.
4. They keep us happy. Besides looking great, indoor plants do double duty by reducing stress and anxiety. Having plants around can improve your mood and boost your productivity. That’s a big plus if you’re trying out a complicated new recipe in the kitchen.
Discover ten easy-to-care-for houseplants perfect for your kitchen!
Get yourself an aloe vera plant and leave it alone. They’ll love you for it. That’s because aloe vera doesn’t require much care at all. Aloe vera can grow in partial shade, but they prefer as much light as you can give it, so try to place it near a window. It’s great for the kitchen since it produces a gel that provides quick relief for minor burns. But it’s not great if you have pets, as it can be toxic for cats and dogs. In summer, water once every two weeks or so, when the soil dries out. In the winter, water even less— unless you keep the home extra warm.
Have high cabinets or shelves? Ivy is an excellent option if you have limited countertop space but want some green in your kitchen. English Ivy is easy to care for and trails nicely to fill up the vertical space. They do best with a fair amount of natural filtered light —it doesn’t need to be super bright. Even medium light will do. But if your kitchen is dark, this may not be the plant for you. When watering, check to make sure the soil is dry to the touch and let it dry out before watering again.
They may sound exotic, but Chinese evergreen might be the most common and best bet for homeowners who have a history of killing houseplants. That’s why you see them in offices everywhere: they’re durable, tolerant and super simple to keep alive. With enough light and moderate watering, the Chinese evergreen will produce calla-lily-like blooms. Be careful not to overwater or you may get root rot. Chinese evergreens are slow growers, so get a small one to put on a kitchen island or countertop. After a few years, transfer it to a bigger pot and move it to an office or bedroom.
Some call this plant the Devil’s Ivy or the Money Plant, but it’s most commonly confused with a common philodendron. Whatever you call it, know that the golden pothos is one of the most effective houseplants at cleaning the air and removing airborne pollutants. That makes it perfect for kitchens where cleaning products and gas cooking can stink up the place. It’s a drought-tolerant, fast-growing vine that likes being soaked about once every one to two weeks. Place it either in a shady area or with some filtered sunlight and it will produce pretty waxy heart-shaped leaves. Keep it long enough and you’ll be treated with a stem of flowers every other year. But keep it off the floor; it can be mildly toxic to pets.
Here’s a fast-growing tropical houseplant with glossy, heart-shaped, dark green leaves. Because it’s a vining plant, the Heartleaf can be grown trailing down from up high or climbing up from below. It’s perfect on top of a fridge or hanging in a window where stems can reach out. This one is good for the homeowner with no green thumb since it’s tolerant and forgiving. Give it low light, poor soil and forget to water it: she won’t care. She’s all heart and will still love you back.
What makes lavender a perfect kitchen plant is that it smells great to humans but not so much to bugs like flies, mosquitos and moths. Not only will it help keep your kitchen bug free, but it also looks pretty, gives off a great scent and — like aloe vera — can help heal the body. Studies have shown that lavender helps provide some relief for ailments like insomnia, depression and anxiety. That’s why you find lavender in soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other essential oils. If your lavender plant gets bushy, cut some twigs to put in a small sachet and place them by your pillow. Start with a smaller variety, like french lavender, for a kitchen countertop.
Also called Snake Plants, the mothers-in-law tongue is a classic houseplant and a great addition to the kitchen. They grow up, not out, so place it somewhere where it will have room to shoot up. They look like slow growers and they are, but you will be surprised at how quickly they will start demanding more space. Good thing they will do well on the floor too. They don’t require routine care and only need water every three to four weeks. They do best with indirect light near a window but can equally tolerate low light. Best of all, these spiky plants filter out common pollutants to purify the air around you.
A perennial herb that’s exceptionally easy to grow, oregano will thrive in your kitchen, especially if placed in a hot, dry and sunny windowsill. It’s best to water when the soil’s surface is dry to the touch; just remember not to let it dry out completely. Then, pinch off a few leaves every now and then to encourage growth. Some varieties will even trail down the sides of a decorative pot and make for easy clipping. That’ll come in handy if you’re a budding chef, as fresh oregano is a common ingredient in many Italian, Mexican and Middle Eastern recipes. Just strip some leaves and add to tomato sauces, soups and stews. Some argue that dried oregano has a stronger taste than fresh leaves, so we like to hang bunches of snipped stems in a dark closet to dry.
Growing rosemary inside is a no-brainer. It’s fragrant, it’s beautiful and it’ll make you feel like a better cook than you really are. Just snip some off as you need it. Keeping rosemary alive can be a little trickier than most other plants in this list, but here are a few tips. Rosemary needs full sun, so try to keep it in a well-drained pot near a bright, sunny window. Water every two weeks if the soil gets dry, but keep a mister nearby. Rosemary likes its foliage to be wetter than its roots. A spray a day will go a long way. And keep a glass of water near the plant. As the water evaporates, the plant will absorb some of that moisture right from the air.
Its full name is a mouthful, which is why the zamioculcas zamiifolia is better known as the ZZ plant. It can tolerate low or diffused light but is not a fan of direct sunshine. Probably better for a darker corner of the kitchen or a shady island. If you forget to water it now and then, that’s cool too. It prefers staying a bit dry. In fact, the ZZ plant can survive for months without watering. The glossy green leaves don’t like a buildup of dust, though. So please give it a gentle hosing off in the sink two or three times a year. Your ZZ will appreciate it.
Happy plants make a happy home
You’ll love your kitchen even more with a low-maintenance houseplant or two. And based on the level of light in your kitchen and how good you’re going to be at remembering to water the plants, you now have a reasonably good list to get you started! Happy growing!