Kitchens are often warm and ideal for plants that need humidity, from elegant peace lilies to the vibrant Begonia rex. There’s a lot more moisture in the air in kitchens than other rooms of the house, due to cooking as well as use of appliances such as washing machines and tumble driers. Not all kitchens are warm and humid, however, and there are other factors to consider when choosing the best plants for your space – some kitchens are cold at night, a south-facing kitchen with big glass doors will receive lots of direct sun, while an old cottage kitchen may have dim lighting and small windows. Your kitchen may have windowsills in sun and shelves in shade. The key is to determine heat and light levels in the different parts of your kitchen and buy plants to suit your specific environment.
15 kitchen plants to grow
Phalaenopsis is an attractive flowering plant that will thrive in the humidity of a bright kitchen. Keep it out of direct sunlight, on a north- or east-facing windowsill or counter top. Moth orchids don’t do well in temperatures below 15ºC so don’t buy for a kitchen where the temperatures drop too low in winter.
Flowers: Sep, Dec, Jan-Mar, June
Height x Spread: 70cm x 40cm
African violets (Streptocarpus)
These compact house plants can flower all year round if they have the right growing conditions. The flowers can be pink, red, white, mauve or violet and appear above furry leaves. African violets thrive in warm, humid rooms, in bright indirect light, although they will be ok on a south-facing windowsill through winter. Avoid temperatures below 16ºC.
Flowers: all year round
H x S: 15cm x 20cm
Peace lilies are ideal for a beginner as they’re low maintenance and easy to look after. They can cope with light shade but will flower more frequently in a bright spot. They do best in a warm, humid room, so a cosy kitchen is perfect for them. Bear in mind that peace lilies are toxic, especially if you have children and/or pets.
Flowers: Can flower all year round
H x S: 60cm x 30cm
Add dramatic foliage to your kitchen with a Begonia Rex. This exotic plant is popular for its colourful leaves and will thrive in a humid room. There are plenty of colours and types to choose from, including ‘Fireworks’, which has an AGM from the RHS. It won’t cope in rooms where the temperature drops below 16ºC and needs light shade rather than direct sun.
Flowers: December to March
H x S: 30cm x 30cm
Brighten up a shady spot in your kitchen with a Boston fern, which has light green, arching fronds. It’s adaptable and will cope both with light shade or bright indirect light as long as the air is humid. If your kitchen is low in humidity, mist your plant regularly.
H x S: 1m x 1m
Maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum)
This graceful looking plant has delicate, light leaves. It needs to have moist soil, although don’t water until the top inch of compost has dried out. If your kitchen is not humid, mist regularly. Place in a bright spot away from draughts and direct sun.
H x S: 50cm x 40cm
Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans)
Corn plant is a low maintenance choice that’s ideal for beginners as it doesn’t need frequent watering. These plants have stripy foliage and, although they start small, eventually they will produce a tree like stem that reach 2m tall with the leaves at the top. This makes it a good pick for a corner in a large kitchen.
H x S: 2m x 1.5m
Also known as Devil’s ivy, pothos is a versatile plant that can grow in many light levels but will appreciate the moist air of a kitchen. It needs only light watering (once the top couple of inches of compost have dried out) and with its trailing stems that can reach 2m long, it will look striking on a high shelf.
H x S: 1.2m x 50cm
Chilli plants thrive on a sunny kitchen windowsill. Sow seeds in February or buy a small plant in early summer. Not only will you have a colourful plant for the kitchen but you can harvest fresh chillies to cook with, from July to October.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm
There’s a good variety of herbs you can grow on a sunny windowsill that will save you money on supermarket packets. Basil and coriander need a warm spot. Don’t overwater basil, especially in the evening when temperatures are cooler. Other herbs you could try indoors for easy pickings include mint and chives.
Swiss cheese plant (Monstera adansonii)
Monstera adansonii is the miniature Swiss cheese plant and its main attraction is its leaves with a variety different sized holes in them. The stems are vine-like and can either be trained up a support or left to trail over the side of the pot. Monstera adansonii is native to South American rainforests so will therefore thrive in a warm, humid kitchen.
H x S: 1m x 40cm
Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides)
If your kitchen is not particularly humid and on the cooler side, there are still plenty of plants that will grow well. The Chinese money plant is easy to care for – it doesn’t need humidity and isn’t too fussy about watering. Place it in a bright spot where you can enjoy its round, flat leaves.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’)
Spider plant is one of the easiest plants to look after, as it doesn’t mind neglect and when happy will produce enough babies to start a new generation. Grow in a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
H x S: 50cm x 30cm
Nerve plant (Fittonia albivensis)
If you need a plant for a tight space or small windowsill, nerve plant could be the one for you. It needs a humid room so thrives in kitchens and bathrooms and its patterned and often colourful foliage will bring colour and interest to your home.
H x S: 12cm x 10cm
The cape sundew plant is a carnivorous plant that will trap insects, including fruit flies, with its sticky tentacles. It’s easy to care for compared to the carnivorous venus fly trap, but needs a south facing windowsill. Keep the compost moist. The easiest way to do this is to stand it in a tray of water during summer, but remove this for winter.
H x S: 15cm x 20cm