Published on September 15, 2019

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Photo by Aaron Bengochea for Domino

You know the best plants to keep in your bedroom for better sleep. You know which plants will survive the humidity of a bathroom. But what about the kitchen? Between the heat and food spatters (not to mention the risk of potential smoke if you’re not exactly Ina Garten), it’s a finicky environment in which to raise a plant. 

But it doesn’t have to be. When you pick the right plants for a kitchen (an exercise that’s not as restrictive as you might think) and strategically position them in a safe location, the possibilities of a greenery-filled home are endless. We chatted with Andrea Strauchler, the garden lead at NYC- and Chicago-based plant shop Sprout Home, and Chris Satch, The Sill’s head of plant education, about how to turn a kitchen into a mini houseplant nursery. 

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Photo by Aaron Bengochea for Domino

On the number-one risk factor…

As is the case with snapping the perfect Instagram pic, kitchen plant care is all about the lighting. “A sunny, well-lit kitchen is a good environment for greens you can cook with (like basil, mint, thyme, or rosemary),” says Strauchler. If your space is more cave-like than bright oasis, it might not be the place to bring your greenery. 

On setting the scene…

According to Satch, kitchens have the most fickle temperatures. Heat from the oven can make some plants dry out faster, while a tiled corner of the countertop tends to get colder than most rooms. “Generally, by the kitchen sink and window is the best place for plants,” he says. 

On making the right choice…

Strauchler’s pick for a kitchen? An air-purifying variety. “NASA completed a study that found that plants can clear toxic chemicals like ammonia, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air,” she explains. Go with options like sansevieria, anthurium, dracaena, and spathiphyllum so you can breathe a little easier as you prep your morning omelet.

Given kitchens tend to get humid, Satch roots for (pun intended) houseplants that can thrive in moist settings, like ferns or air plants. “Don’t worry—they won’t spill your sauce’s secret ingredient to your guests! They’re great listeners but not great talkers,” he jokes.  

Herbs, as Strauchler mentioned, are an obvious choice: “There are few things more satisfying than harvesting a plant that you have grown yourself.”  

On styling 101…

To avoid crowding your room, both experts advise looking up and using hanging baskets or stands to display your greens. “Air plants are especially great if you have limited counter space,” says Satch. “You can string them up or make use of an empty wall with holders.” Place vining plants like pothos and philodendron atop your kitchen cabinets or fridge so they’ll trail down into view. 

Ready to head to the nursery? These four are safe bets.

See more of our favorite plant-filled spaces:
Hacks We Learned From Our Favorite Plant-Filled Homes
One Couple Turned a 650-Square-Foot Rental Into a Plant-Filled Boho Oasis
A Historic Cotton Mill Converts Into a Plant-Filled Dream Loft

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