When the winter blues hit, you can find me baking up a storm in my kitchen. I can’t garden, so I bake, but even so, I daydream of spring weather and the return of permanently grimy fingernails. To help me beat those winter doldrums, I make sure to have several plants in the kitchen. The kitchen isn’t always ideal for plants (especially after all that baking!), but there are some adaptable houseplants for the kitchen environment. If you need a harbinger of spring, read on to find out what plants grow best in kitchens.
As mentioned, the kitchen is not necessarily the most ideal place for plants. Of course, everyone’s kitchen is different, so what my kitchen lacks, perhaps yours has in spades. The common denominators, though, generally remain the same.
Kitchens tend to have dramatic temperature fluxes from extreme heat when baking to chilly nighttime conditions when the heat is low and appliances are off. If you don’t have a hood over your range, steam and greasy deposits can affect the health of kitchen houseplants. Also, the amount of natural light your kitchen gets will determine which plants are suited to your kitchen.
People tend to want to put kitchen houseplants on the window sill. It’s understandable. Counter space is often at a premium with all the other appliances, prep areas, and dishes lying around. The thing is that windows get really cold at night, so remember to move kitchen houseplants from the sill or at the very least put a barrier of a blind or curtain between the cold pane and the plant.
There are a number of plants that work well in the kitchen.
Probably, the most obvious choice for plants in the kitchen are herbs. I mean they’re right there when you need them.
Mint and lemon balm are almost indestructible, but they can take over, so plant them in individual pots. And there are so many varieties of mint with slightly nuanced flavors from pineapple to peppermint.
Marjoram, tarragon, and sage only grow to about 18 inches (45.5 cm.) in height and look terrific planted together. Or plant an entire container with different sages, from variegated to purple to the common green sage.
Parsley and basil can be started from seed and grown on a sunny windowsill. Some herbs are far too large for the kitchen. Keep dill, fennel, lovage, bay, and angelica outside.
Plant a container full of spring bulbs such as narcissus, daffodil, hyacinth, or tulips.
African violets thrive in northerly exposures.
Jasmine can be grown in a pot and trained up and around a sunny window.
Chrysanthemums and begonias will give a welcome splash of color, as will cyclamen and kalanchoe.
Even an exotic orchid may do well in the kitchen with good but not direct afternoon light. Orchids like humidity, so situate them near the sink and dishwasher.
Hanging plants are perfect for kitchens where available counter space is already being utilized.
For windows with northerly exposure to the sun, try aluminum plant or artillery plant. Carex will also thrive at this exposure as will cast iron plant, an aptly named houseplant for the kitchen.
Peperomia is another adaptable houseplant that comes in a wide array of colors and shapes. They thrive in the shade and their waxy leaves help them retain water.
Oxalis opens and closes its leaves according to changing daylight conditions. It will be equally happy in a shaded or sun filled area of the kitchen.
Southern-facing windows can be filled with cacti or succulents, which come in a myriad of shapes, colors, and textures. Comb flower, peanut plant, and desert privet all enjoy bright light. Polka dot plants, with their various leaf colors, will thrive in southern exposures too.
If your foray into growing plants in the kitchen ends up being a disaster, consider some of the common flowering houseplants listed above as simply annuals that need to be renewed every so often. And if all else fails, there are always air plants (tillandsia), the foolproof plants that supposedly no one can kill.
Have you ever wondered about having plants in the kitchen? This is an excellent place to decorate with some plants. Generally, kitchens have good ventilation with large windows that provide plenty of light and fresh air. However, it can also be a little difficult place for delicate plants because of the fumes, humidity, and heat generation by the stove or oven and grease.
This is the first and most important step that will decide whether you can grow plants in your kitchen or not. Does your kitchen have a window that receives some amount of direct sunlight? A south-facing window would be best. It’s simple, the more sunlight, the better. If your kitchen window receives indirect sun, you’ll need to grow plants that grow without direct sunlight.
Plants that can survive changes in temperature and air currents are best. Outdoor plants, if they are placed in a location with good ventilation and lighting, can adapt easily into the kitchen, but be sure to remove them a few days abroad.
The kitchen is the ideal place to grow herbs. Grow herbs on a kitchen windowsill or in a hanging basket. Check out our post on how to grow herbs on a windowsill. Herbs will not only decorate your kitchen, but you’ll get fresh leaves handily to prepare delicious dishes.
Herbs such as rosemary, lavender, basil, parsley, lemon balm, lemongrass, mint, oregano, cilantro, and thyme are easy to grow. You can also plant scented geraniums, African violet, begonia, and impatiens to enjoy the beautiful flowers. In edibles, small and easy to grow plants like ginger, garlic, green onions, spinach are perfect options. You can also try to grow a lemon tree.
Some low maintenance kitchen plants you can have are aloes, snake plants, pothos, philodendrons, ferns, spider plants, ivies, and much more, see our guide on the most easy to grow indoor plants for more options. You can also combine these or herbs with other ornamental plants to decorate your kitchen and to make the cooking more enjoyable.
Some plant species, in particular, have the capacity to absorb odors and purify the air and are good to grow in the kitchen, like the peace lily, jasmine, mum, geranium, mint, Boston fern, rubber plant, and gerbera daisy. Take advantage of these natural air fresheners to purify the air in your kitchen.
Prefer plants that require little care and attention and adjust well to your conditions, not to mention the species of succulents and cacti, they are ideal to have at home as they are nearly maintenance-free and do very well indoors.
Avoid plants that can grow too large or spread a lot or those species that have toxic components. Don’t grow any of these common poisonous plants like dieffenbachia, bird of paradise, kafir lily, and some common poisonous flowers in your kitchen.
A must try project by Brad on YoutTube: see video below where he shares THE BEST way to grow avocado seed that works every time!
It is very easy to grow avocado seeds in soil: we always have random avocado trees sprouting from our compost in the garden. However I just love the look of avocado plants growing in water in this YouTube video:
You can tell I love plants growing in water and glass bottles! Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to grow some beautiful indoor plants easily in water.
How to grow some beautiful indoor plants easily in water.
Photo by: Photo by Crystal Liepa / Courtesy of Cool Springs Press
Photo by Crystal Liepa / Courtesy of Cool Springs Press
Imagine this: It’s minus 27 degrees F outside, but indoors, where it’s warm and toasty, your windowsills and bookshelves are lined with pots and planters of tasty microgreens, nutritious Swiss chard, baby lettuces and even cherry tomatoes.
Growing an edible garden indoors may sound like wishful thinking, but Elizabeth Millard, author of Indoor Kitchen Gardening: Turn Your Home Into a Year-round Vegetable Garden (Cool Springs Press), says if she can do it, you can, too. Millard ought to know she’s been raising fresh food in her Minnesota home for years, while the frigid winter weather rages outdoors.
Millard and her partner, Karla Pankow, started growing their own fruits and vegetables after what she calls a “life-changing” trip to Africa on behalf of Habitat for Humanity. That’s where the two “started thinking about sustainability, real foods and the idea of community gardening,” she says.
Elizabeth Millard (right), author of Indoor Kitchen Gardening, and her partner Karla Pankow
Photo by: Photo by Crystal Leipa / Cool Springs Press
“I started playing around and experimenting with plant starts in the house. I’ve killed every houseplant I’ve ever had, but Karla had experience with a family farm.”
With Pankow’s help, Millard began sowing and harvesting microgreens and dabbling with other crops. “Even my failures gave me the confidence to go forward. Some things didn’t work, but some did.” Eventually the pair opened Bossy Acres, an organic community farm based in Minneapolis.
Millard’s book is a guide for gardeners who want to extend their own harvests, whether they live in in cold climates or regions with long growing seasons. “There’s a certain thrill in seeing a Swiss chard sprout,” she has written, “and if you’re wearing your pajamas at the time, excitement is doubled.”
Microgreens are one of her favorite indoor crops and she likes cress because it sprouts fast and is easy to grow. She also grows radish tops for their peppery, spicy flavor. “Carrot tops are great, too, and taste just like full-grown carrots—it’s the craziest thing.”
“Onion tops are good, but they’re strong. A thimble full is too much. Beet tops take a little longer to grow, but they’re gorgeous, with electric red stems. It’s like growing neon! Remember, microgreens are nutrient-dense, so you don’t have to make a whole salad out of them. Use them as condiments.”
If you’re an ambitious indoor gardener, Millard says tomatoes, mushroom and even peppers aren’t easy to grow—in fact, she puts them in the “extra credit section”—but they’re not impossible. For best results, she recommends planting compact or dwarf varieties, and not trying to grow regular-sized vegetables.
Another key to success is finding the right location in your home. Even if it's not your kitchen, chances are that you can find or make a good spot. Successful indoor gardening, she says, depends on having adequate light. While you’ll probably have enough natural light from your windows to grow plants in the spring or summer, she explains that most gardeners will need some form of supplemental lighting the rest of the year, and her book discusses various options. Warm, sunny, south-facing windows are your best choice.
“You also need the right amount of daylight hours. Plants need a day and a night, and the timing is important so they can ‘sleep,’ much like we do. A southern exposure usually provides the most UV light and is as close to the length of a normal day as you can get.”
Indoor edibles also need good airflow, something that Millard says most of us overlook. “It’s important for plants to have a little wind to help prevent mold and rot, and to encourage them to grow strong.” She uses small, inexpensive fans from a local hardware store to occasionally stir the air around her plants, but she doesn’t let the fans blow directly on them.
Humidity matters too, especially if your home is dry. “You don’t need a humidifier if you mist occasionally. Or you can put a pan of water on top of a heating vent in the room.” As for potting soil, she prefers a good indoor potting mix with vermiculite and perlite. "Just don't use ordinary soil from outside."
Growing your own fresh foods indoors is easier than it seems, Millard says, and the payoff is rich in fresh flavor.