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.
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.
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.
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.
If your plants will live on open shelving, Igor and Judith recommend plants that drape like a String of Hearts or Pothos.
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.
Is your kitchen an oasis of green or desperately in need of it? Tell us in the comments.