Gardening

5 Expert Tips for Plant-ifying Your Kitchen

What to pick and how to style, according to the Urban Jungle blogger.

July  1, 2020
Photo by IGOR JOSIFOVIC-KEMPER

In their latest book Plant Tribe, Igor Josifovic-Kemper and Judith de Graaff whisk readers off to 17 attractive, plant-filled homes across the US, Europe and Brazil. What makes this book so valuable is not just their adept styling of the rooms, but how the capable hands of Igor and Judith transform the spaces into teaching tools. In one part of the book, for instance, the pair uses them to illustrate how plants have the power to affect our well-being. In another, the homes are accompanied by the authors’ insights into the business side of plants.

One particular section of note, the book’s “Room-by-Room Guide,” shows readers how they can keep plants thriving throughout their houses, including in the unusually-tricky kitchen. This spot presents a unique challenge because of its daily changes in temperature and moisture levels, sometimes shoddy natural light and its abundance of appliances (which can affect air flow and quality). Lucky for you, Igor and Judith have put together a quick guide to kitchen plant care that takes all of this into account. If you don’t have a green thumb (yet), do not fear. These tips are aimed at beginners, so follow along below, and you, too, can have a kitchen filled with happy plants.

Olive May and her husband Rudy in their Dallas, TX kitchen, as featured in 'Plant Tribe'. Photo by JULES VILLBRANDT

Take baby steps

Ben Mayer makes coffee amidst his spider plants, as featured in 'Plant Tribe'. Photo by JULES VILLBRANDT

If you don’t have much experience tending to plants, start with herbs. They are not only easy to care for, but they grow quickly. Plus, having a couple varieties on hand when you are cooking will keep meals tasting fresh. “Sometimes I even get inspired to cook or bake something based on the herbs I have growing in my kitchen and on my balcony,” Igor adds.


Follow the light

Igor installed open shelving in his Munich kitchen in order to show off his plants. Photo by IGOR JOSIFOVIC-KEMPER

Igor’s kitchen (above) gets great natural light, so he has filled the room with leafy greens that love the sun. If your kitchen is also very bright—no, we are not envious at all—reach for a variegated rubber tree, a fiddle fig, Alocasia, Caladium, Hoya, Pothos, Begonia maculata, a snake plant or succulents. Igor and Judith also recommend opening your kitchen windows periodically to help fresh air circulate around your plants. This move supplies them with the vital gases that promote growth.


Keep temperature in mind

A kitchen featured in 'Plant Tribe'. Photo by JULES VILLBRANDT

Kitchens are not just hot when you are cooking—your fridge and your dishwasher both emit heat when they are running as well. Try not to place plants too close to either of these appliances (or near your oven, of course). If you are in the kitchen a lot and cook often, Tillandsia xerographica, a species of bromeliad, is your friend. This plant loves humidity.


Making a statement

A kitchen from Plant Tribe. Photo by JULES VILLBRANDT

If your plants will live on open shelving, Igor and Judith recommend plants that drape like a String of Hearts or Pothos.


A clean plant is a happy plant

A kitchen in Dallas, TX, as featured in 'Plant Tribe'. Photo by JULES VILLBRANDT

In order to make sure cooking grease and dirt do not build up on your plants, always run your oven’s ventilation system when cooking. Even if you are diligent with ventilation, however, your plants could still collect grime. To further keep your greenery clean, wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth that has been soaked in filtered water.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I love plants in any room. I have to say some of the plants in this essay look like they could use some supplemental light! (a bit spindly looking) Amazon has led light stripes in all sizes. When I lived in the Midwest, I used them for most of my plants. Your plants won't care if you get the expensive ones or the cheap ones in my experience:) ”
— Prissy
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Is your kitchen an oasis of green or desperately in need of it? Tell us in the comments.

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Garrett Fleming

Written by: Garrett Fleming

Interiors Editor & Art Director

4 Comments

Christy S. July 5, 2020
Herbs are actually not easy indoors unless you have tons of light. They also tend to get aphids (that inevitably come with the plant from the nursery/shop). I recommend having them outside your kitchen window, if possible. Give them plenty of rootspace. That way they don't dry out, get rootbound and thus stressed out. A stressed out plant attracts insects and powdery mildew. Also, indoor grown herbs do not have as strong of a flavor as outdoor grown herbs which makes them not useful for cooking.
 
Smaug July 6, 2020
"Herbs" is actually something of a botanical granfalloon anyway, though a lot of the most common ones are fairly close relatives of either the apiaceae or the labiatae (now lamiaceae or some such) families- so far as I know none of them is very well suited to indoor living, but these articles seem mostly to be aimed at people living in tiny New York apartments.
 
Prissy July 2, 2020
I love plants in any room. I have to say some of the plants in this essay look like they could use some supplemental light! (a bit spindly looking) Amazon has led light stripes in all sizes.
When I lived in the Midwest, I used them for most of my plants. Your plants won't care if you get the expensive ones or the cheap ones in my experience:)
 
Arati M. July 3, 2020
That's a great tip, Prissy. I, personally, try and move my plants around the home (and to different windows) when they show signs of sagging. Sadly, I don't get a ton of direct light, so choose my plants wisely. I do love the idea of a kitchen full of plants, though...