The idea of keeping a plant (or two) indoors can seem daunting, especially if you have a self-proclaimed “black thumb,” but the benefits of indoor gardening are pretty incredible. Not only do they purify the air and add a splash of color to the room, but they are also tied to increased productivity and better moods.
Between food prep, meals, and homework, the kitchen tends to be the hub of the home, so making an effort to grow some plants can be beneficial to every member of your family.
What kinds of plants grow well in the kitchen?
The answer to this question is: it depends. First, you need to determine what kind of light source you have and then purchase plants that can grow under those conditions. Most houseplants will have a tag that tells you what kind of light is best for them, but these are some plants that grow pretty well in most kitchens:
- Microgreens: Microgreens grow quickly, need little space, and can be harvested many times over the life of the plant. Green onions, radishes, cabbage, and spinach are all excellent examples of microgreens that you can easily use in your everyday cooking. When you’re ready to use them, you simply pinch off the outermost leaves and add them to whatever you’re making.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera plants are a type of succulent that need very little care and water, so they’re perfect for the new plant owner. The added benefit of these plants, however, is that the leaves can be used to treat any burns that happen in and around the kitchen. Not only are they a pretty plant, but they also are extremely useful.
- Spider Plants: Spider plants can be grown on a countertop or hung from the ceiling. They need very little care and only occasional pruning, but their bright, vibrant green and white leaves bring a welcome spot of color to your kitchen.
- Mini Citrus Trees: Mini citrus trees can bring fresh produce and incredible aromas to your kitchen all year round. They do require a little bit more maintenance than some other indoor plants, but they are still reasonably easy to care for.
- Herbs: Herbs are probably the most popular plant to grow in your kitchen because, in addition to being beautiful, they are nutritious and delicious! Most herbs only need about six to eight inches of soil, so your pot doesn’t need to be very large. If you are planning on using a single window box with multiple herbs in it, keep in mind that certain herbs tend to spread very quickly and can overpower your other herbs if you’re not careful. If your kitchen gets five or more hours of sun per day, rosemary, basil, cilantro, thyme, and sage are good choices for you. If it gets less than five hours of sun, parsley, chives, mint, and fennel may be good options.
- English Ivy: English Ivy is a very pretty hanging plant that comes in a lot of different colors and varieties. It is also known for being very difficult to kill.
- Succulents: Last, but not least, succulents are a fantastic choice for people who are just starting to get their feet wet in indoor gardening. Most succulents only need small amounts of water once a month, so it is easy to set a timer on your phone to help you remember to water the plants. Other than that little bit of water, most succulents will thrive anywhere they’re kept (as long as there is light, of course!)
What maintenance will be required?
- Watering: Most indoor plants don’t like to have their leaves get wet, so make sure that you’re mindful of that. As much as possible, water from below or directly onto the soil. Have a saucer or double-plated pot to catch the excess water, and drain it after a few minutes of soaking so that your plant isn’t stagnating. Only water when the soil feels dry to the touch when you press down, but if your soil is exceptionally dry, you might consider throwing some ice cubes on the soil first. This will water your plant slowly, which will help rehydrate the soil, thus keeping the water from running straight through to the bottom.
- Light: Don’t be afraid to move your plants toward light sources, but keep them away from cold windows, drafts, heaters, etc.
- Fertilize: Fertilize about once a month in the summer, but hold off in the winter. Most plants like to tuck into themselves in the winter months, and over-fertilizing could harm them.
- Other Maintenance: Every so often, you should dust your plants either with a damp cloth or dusting spray to keep them clean. You should also “deadhead” frequently, which means to remove dead flowers and leaves to promote new growth. Additionally, keep an eye on the roots to make sure that they’re not getting too compact because that could lead to root rot or inefficient watering.
What are some signs my plants are struggling?
It’s awfully disappointing to see your little green friends start to struggle, but by keeping an eye out and catching problems early, you should be able to keep your plants in prime health. Here are some common issues with indoor plants as well as accompanying solutions:
- Burned-looking leaves could mean the plant is getting too much light or heat. Try moving the plant to another location in your kitchen.
- If flowering plants have no flowers, you could be using too much fertilizer, or they could be getting too little light. Try moving them closer to a window and cutting back on fertilizer if you’re using it.
- Browning leaves are often a sign of too much fertilizer, so use less.
- If your plants are wilting, they could have compacted roots, root rot, or be too wet or dry. Inspect the roots first, and then make modifications as necessary. You may need to break apart the roots and replant.
- Yellow leaves are often a sign that you’re overwatering or have poor drainage. Make sure that you have enough drainage holes in the bottom of your pot and that you’re not letting your plant sit in extra water.
- If your plants have spots on their leaves, you could have a problem with fungus, or you could be spraying water directly onto the leaves. Fungus is usually treatable with antifungal sprays available at most garden centers, but if the problem is water spots, make sure that you’re watering the soil and not the plant itself.
If this article leaves you motivated to try your hand at kitchen gardening, you can start off small with a couple of succulents by the kitchen sink. Beware, however, that the gardening bug could bite, and you’ll soon find yourself eager to take on all kinds of kitchen planting.