Of all the design choices you can make for your kitchen, adding an array of colorful houseplants is one of the most rewarding. But you can’t put just any indoor plants in one of the warmest, driest rooms in your home and expect them to grow well: some houseplants do better in the humidity and warmth of your bathroom, and others need more light than your kitchen windows may be able to give. You’ll also want to use creative ways to keep surfaces clear, since kitchen counter space is always at a premium. Here are some of our favorite houseplants that will thrive in your kitchen.
There’s a reason spider plants are one of the most common houseplants: they’re nearly impossible to kill and incredibly easy to care for, with slender, attractive white-and-green leaves and a trailing growth habit that lends itself well to shelves and hanging baskets. Display yours on top of a cabinet or hang one from ceiling hooks in a north, east, or west-facing window to keep counters clear.
Since they need bright, indirect light, take care to place them at least five feet from a south-facing window.
Even better? Spider plants reproduce on their own with proper care, so you’ll soon have new plants to decorate with.
Aside from thriving in dry, warm, sunny spaces, hardy aloe vera has another great reason to live in your kitchen. This succulent is great for your skin! Cut a leaf and rub the cut end on dry or irritated skin after washing dishes. You can also blend the gel (the inner portion of the flesh with the spines and skin removed) into smoothies, juices, and salad dressings to promote digestion—just be sure to drain the sap from the cut end of the leaves for a few hours before cooking with them. Like other succulents, aloe vera needs minimal water and lots of sun, so keep it near a warm window where it can get as much bright light as possible.
This trendy, must-have houseplant makes a great candidate for warm, sunny kitchens—and not just because one of its nicknames is pancake plant! Pilea peperomioides need lots of bright, indirect light to thrive, so consider adding one to your brightest kitchen windowsill. Keep an eye on its leaves; if you notice them curling, that’s a sign that your pilea isn’t getting enough light and needs to be moved closer to the window or to a brighter spot.
Don’t forget to rotate your plant every week or so to help all its leaves grow and spread evenly.
Although its natural habitat is the jungle, pothos, also known as devil’s ivy, is so versatile that it can survive in a steamy bathroom or in a comparatively arid kitchen. This hardy, easy-growing plant comes in lots of colors, so you can coordinate classic green-and-yellow variegated pothos, neon-green lime pothos, or silvery satin pothos with your kitchen’s color scheme. They’ll even help remove toxins from the air in your kitchen. With its long, trailing vines and pretty, heart-shaped leaves, it also makes a great candidate for the edge of a tall cabinet, a high shelf, or a hanging basket.
The ZZ plant—so called because its botanical name, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is a real mouthful—is incredibly tolerant of neglect and can adapt to just about any reasonable conditions, from rooms with lots of bright, indirect light to dim, shady spaces. It’s also drought-tolerant, meaning that you can set it in a corner of your kitchen and forget it for a few months between waterings with no ill effects. Meanwhile, its feather-like compound leaflets stay lush and green, lending a jungle-like vibe to your kitchen.
With its tall, colorful, lance-shaped leaves, snake plant is a great addition to a corner of your kitchen that needs a little liveliness. Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, this tough plant can go for weeks between waterings and even does better when you forget about it—as long as it has a little light and stays above a cozy 65 degrees. As an added bonus, snake plants are one of the best houseplants at clearing toxic chemicals from the air in your home.
String of Pearls
This adorable, elegant houseplant combines the best traits of a hanging plant and a succulent in one. Its long, thin stems grow long strands of pea-sized “pearls” in an attractive green shade—and as long as it’s happy, your plant’s strings will keep growing and growing all the way to the ground if you let them.
Take care not to overwater this succulent, as that’s a surefire way to cause root rot and kill your plant.
String of pearls is a great candidate for a high shelf, the top of a cabinet, or a hanging basket, but make sure you choose a spot where it won’t be disturbed or jostled, as the pearls break off easily.
Wandering Jew Plant
The family of plants colloquially known as wandering Jew plants—the spiderwort family of Tradescantias and Zebrinas—are by and large easy to care for and can adjust to a variety of environments. Tradescantia zebrina in particular makes a striking addition to your kitchen plant collection, since its leaves are striped with vivid purple and silver; Tradescantia padilla ‘Purple Heart’ features slender, deep-purple leaves and stems, with little lilac-colored flowers. Display yours in a spot near a kitchen window that gets good bright, indirect light. Wandering Jew plants are great candidates for hanging baskets too.
All you need to display air plants, also known as Tillandsias, is a bright, sunny windowsill. In fact, since they draw nutrients from the air rather than soil, you can keep them in any warm spot in your kitchen—a windowsill, a plant stand, a decorative dish, or even hanving from the ceiling in a glass globe or mounted in a frame on the wall—as long as they have lots of bright, indirect light.
During times of the year when your kitchen is extra dry, give your air plant a bath every two weeks, submerging it in water for two to three hours, before draining it and letting it dry out again.
These cute, versatile succulents can add a chic, desert-like vibe to any kitchen. They’re perfect to dress up a bright, sunny window—one that gets at least four hours of full sun per day. While they can grow in spots with less light, the green, paddle-shaped leaves won’t get the signature red tinge on the edges without that full sun.
Just take care to move your succulent back from the window a bit in winter if your kitchen tends to be drafty, as jade plants grow best in temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees.