There are a number of reasons to add kitchen plants to this room that is usually the heart of the home. Whether it’s to produce ingredients for cooking, to remove odors, to keep the area free of flies, or simply to add a splash of color, the best kitchen plants can be both decorative and practical.
There are many choices of the best indoor plants that can help to bring the kitchen to life and soften its look. The addition of a bit of greenery is a great kitchen idea to add a natural element to break up the look of the work surfaces and cabinetry, and is also among the kitchen feng shui tips.
Best kitchen plants
‘The kitchen is one of the most popular places to enjoy houseplants as they can completely transform the space,’ says Morag Hill, Co-Founder of The Little Botanical. ‘Greenery against tiles or plain cupboards can completely lift a room.’
It’s worth remembering that every kitchen is different in terms of the temperature, humidity and intensity of light received, so not all the plants in this list may be suitable for your kitchen. If you have a north-facing kitchen, a different set of plants will thrive compared to if you have a sunny south-facing kitchen windowsill.
If you’re looking to decorate your kitchen with a few transformative plants, try out some of these expert recommendations for the very best plants for the job.
1. Chinese evergreen – Aglaonema ‘Pink Star’
‘Aglaonema ‘Pink Star’ is a rare plant that will thrive in your home. Aglaonemas grow wild in the subtropical rainforests of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, where the plant is happy beneath the forest canopy,’ says Emily Lawlor, owner of Happy Houseplants.
As a colorful kitchen idea, ‘Aglaonema ‘Pink Star’ is an unusual variety that is coveted for its bright foliage and variegation. A superb plant choice for kitchen plants if you crave the jungle look or want stunning foliage in your home, and an absolute conversation piece ideal for the kitchen table,’ adds Emily.
Simply water Aglaonema ‘Pink Star’ whenever the top couple of inches of soil have dried out, although it’s a resilient plant that will forgive you a little forgetfulness. ‘It’s tolerant of low light conditions and easy to care for, so perfect for beginners, but also an attractive collector plant for more experienced growers,’ says Emily.
2. Pineapple – Ananas comosus
‘If you’re looking to brighten up your kitchen space, I recommend the pineapple plant due to its ability to thrive in the bright light and higher humidity of most kitchens,’ says Lindsay Pangborn, gardening expert at Bloomscape.
‘The pineapple is a visually striking plant that doubles as a conversation piece, thanks to an adorable mini pineapple perched above its green leaves. Although small, it’s able to be eaten once ripe – perfect for a cocktail garnish.'
Native to South America, the pineapple plant is a bromeliad, which means it has long, shiny, strap-like leaves that channel water down towards the base of the plant. Its quirky appearance will instantly bring an exotic feel to your kitchen. You can learn how to grow a pineapple, or buy a ready grown plant from the many suppliers.
Happiest in a sunny spot, this is a great low-maintenance houseplant. ‘Pineapple bromeliads do not need to be watered often, only requiring watering when the soil volume is 75 per cent dry,’ says Lindsay.
3. String of Hearts – Ceropegia woodii
Forming long, cascading stems of adorable little heart-shaped leaves, each with pretty silver variegation and a purple underside, string of hearts makes charming kitchen plants that are great for small kitchen ideas. This easy-care, pet-friendly houseplant also happens to be one of the best feng shui plants, filling your kitchen with positive energy.
‘String of hearts is perfect for a kitchen shelf as it will trail down beautifully as it grows,’ says Morag of The Little Botanical. ‘This trailing beauty loves a bright spot so make sure it gets good morning light to keep him happy and healthy.’ If you’re short of shelf space, string of hearts also works extremely well in a hanging pot.
Water string of hearts around once every ten days, allowing the compost to dry out in between, and never allow it to sit in water. Don’t be afraid to trim back any overly long stems in the summer to encourage fresh growth. They look lovely arranged with other plants as kitchen shelving ideas.
4. Spider plant – Chlorophytum comosum
Spider plants make a fantastic addition as kitchen plants due to their amazing ability to purify the air as air cleaning indoor plants and eliminate odors from cooking. A popular choice when decorating with plants, with this guy around, you won’t still be smelling last night’s onions when you’re sitting down to breakfast. They are also one of the easiest of all houseplants to grow, making them one of the most popular.
Thriving in a bright spot out of direct sunlight, this stripy stunner looks great in a pot when you're styling a shelf , on a kitchen counter, or in a hanging pot, where the long, narrow leaves will spill luxuriously over the sides.
Although they’re very forgiving, it’s best to water spider plants whenever the top half of the compost has dried out, allowing any excess to drain away. They are among the best bathroom plants, so learn how to take cuttings to propagate them and enjoy them in various rooms of the home. They are also another pet-friendly choice.
5. Peace lily – Spathiphyllum wallisii
Oozing tranquility and elegance with its pure white blooms and glossy leaves, the air-purifying peace lily is an exquisite addition to any kitchen. ‘Peace lilies work well in a bright kitchen; a kitchen windowsill or worktop is the perfect place for them,’ says Morag of the Little Botanical. ‘The more light it gets, the more flowers appear.’
‘A low-maintenance peace lily is a great starter plant as it tells you what it needs from just looking at it. If the soil’s too dry, the stems will droop, it's telling you it needs more water and will revive given a good drink.’
To keep these kitchen plants at their happiest, learn about peace lily care and keep the compost moist but not soggy, and mist the leaves occasionally to reflect the plant’s rainforest habitat.
6. Corn Plant – Dracaena fragrans ‘Burley’
Dracaena fragrans ‘Burley’ is a great statement plant for the kitchen. ‘This stripy Dracaena is the ideal choice of easy-care plants for the kitchen,’ says Morag. ‘With those bold yellow and green stripy leaves, this plant commands attention and will brighten up any kitchen corner or table.’
If you've got a north-facing kitchen, then look no further for a low light plant. ‘Dracaena copes very well in a little bit of shade, too, making it a fabulous houseplant for kitchens that don’t get too much light,’ says Morag.
Requiring very little maintenance, these kitchen plants are ideal for busy owners – simply water every 2-3 weeks and give the leaves a dust now and again to preserve their glossy sheen.
7. Kalanchoe humilis ‘Desert Surprise’
A real gem, this unusual Kalanchoe bears little resemblance to its relatives, which are bred for their brightly-colored clusters of tiny, rose-like blooms.
With Kalanchoe humilis ‘Desert Surprise’, it’s all about the foliage, which provides color and interest the whole year round – so ideal as a winter houseplant. The fleshy, gently scalloped leaves are a beautiful greyish green, each decorated with mottled maroon stripes to create a spectacular contrast. Look out for a branching flower stem appearing in fall, bearing hundreds of tiny blooms. ‘Desert Surprise’ thrives in a bright, sunny spot, so is ideal for a south- or west-facing kitchen windowsill.
Native to arid landscapes of central and southwest Africa, Kalanchoe ‘Desert Surprise’ should be treated like a typical succulent, so learn how to care for succulents. Allow the soil to completely dry out before watering thoroughly, around once a month – once every two months in winter – and don’t allow it to sit in water. Once you know when to water succulents, you'll discover this is so easy to look after, and is ideal for beginners or gifting to those interested in unusual varieties.
A selection of herbs is a valuable addition to any kitchen and they are ideal as kitchen plants. What could be better than grabbing a handful of delicious fresh leaves, to toss straight into your favorite dish?
Make sure you know how to grow herbs indoors, and the best herbs for your kitchen depend on how much light it receives. Sun-loving herbs such as growing basil, rosemary, thyme and sage are ideal for warm and sunny kitchens, while mint, parsley, cilantro – or coriander – and chives will thrive in cooler, less sunny kitchens.
All herbs should be watered whenever the top of the compost feels dry; cilantro and basil in particular will quickly wilt if the compost is allowed to fully dry out.
9. Chillies – capsicum
Lovers of heat and sunshine, chillies are easy to grow on a south-facing windowsill, especially if you choose a dwarf variety such as 'Apache'. Like herbs, chilies are perfect for growing in the kitchen, where they can go from plant to pan in seconds for that deliciously fresh, homegrown flavor.
Chilies can also be decorative plants in their own right: ‘Masquerade’, for example, is a dainty variety bearing clusters of small, pointed fruits in a rainbow of colors from red to orange to violet.
To get the most out of your indoor vegetable garden container crop, grow chillies on a south-facing windowsill where they will receive as much direct sunlight as possible. Water whenever the top of the compost has dried out, and feed fortnightly with a high-potassium liquid feed such as a tomato feed to encourage abundant fruiting.
10. Princess Alice’s sundew – Drosera aliciae
Although less well-known than the Venus fly trap, Princess Alice’s sundew, or Drosera aliciae, is actually one of the easiest to grow of all the carnivorous plants. It is also one of the most decorative, forming a neat rosette of small, spoon-shaped leaves fringed with red hairs, each bearing a sticky droplet at its tip to give the whole plant a sparkling appearance. It’s a strikingly unusual plant that is sure to draw the attention of guests – and kids will love it.
A very practical addition among kitchen plants, a Princess Alice’s sundew will help rid the room of any flies that find their way in over the summer months if you're looking for how to get rid of fruit flies. When placed among other houseplants, it will also help to reduce the numbers of gnats, whitefly and other flying pests that may be troubling them.
Drosera aliciae will enjoy a bright, sunny spot on the windowsill and regular watering to ensure the compost remains reliably moist during the growing season – in summer it can be permanently stood in a shallow tray of water. Reduce watering in winter. Like most carnivorous plants, Drosera aliciae dislikes lime, so rainwater or distilled water is preferred to tap water.
Can you have plants in a kitchen?
Yes, you can definitely have plants in a kitchen – in fact it’s one of the best rooms in the house to put them. ‘Plants tend to thrive in the kitchen as they are usually bright and airy rooms, replicating the perfect growing conditions,’ says Morag.
Having greenery in the kitchen won’t just benefit the plants; it’ll benefit you, too – houseplants have been shown to boost mood, reduce stress and improve air quality.
As the heart of the home, including kitchen plants in the room where many of us spend a lot of time will make the most of these benefits.
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After studying Plant Sciences at Oxford University, Olivia trained as a professional horticulturist. She has been lucky enough to work in public and botanic gardens all around the UK. Her work has even taken her across Europe, from helping to curate a botanic garden in the Swiss Alps, to studying the native flora of Tenerife. Now a full-time writer, she enjoys nothing more than sharing her love of plants and gardens with others.
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