The Best Plants for Every Unique Space, From Low-Light to High-Humidity

updated Jun 13, 2023
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Sunny kitchen with lots of plants.
Credit: Erin Derby

Whether you’re new to the whole plant thing or you’re a seasoned green thumb, if you’re hankering for some more color and texture in your home, indoor plants are a great way to accomplish that. Of all the spaces in your home, your kitchen can specifically make for an ideal home for a few plant babies — but which ones you choose ultimately depends on your space and how you use it. 

Before you head to the store to stock up (or shop online), think about your kitchen conditions — from high shelves to high humidity — and consider these expert-recommended plants accordingly.

Best Plants for Hanging or High Shelves

1. Pothos

If your kitchen is short on counter and floor space, take advantage of up-high shelves, or hang a planter on the ceiling to enjoy foliage without hogging valuable storage real estate. Ashley Nussman-Berry, founder of Black Planters, recommends the hardy pothos, which she says grow “lush leaves that cascade down over your kitchen.” 

A bonus? These trailing beauties don’t require much maintenance, which is perfect, as you probably won’t want to constantly grab a step stool to tend to it.

2. Tradescantia

The trailing tradescantia, also known as spiderwort, comes in many varieties ideal for adding a pop of color to a high shelf or hanging basket. “They like lots of light and will reward you with fast growth and beautiful blooms,” says Nussman-Berry. 

3. String of pearls

This vining succulent is known for its round, pearl-like leaves that elegantly cascade below, says Jennifer Schutter, founder of Plant Carefully. Like other succulents, these are great at conserving water, so they’re perfect for out-of-reach (read: hard-to-water) spots. 

However, you don’t want to skimp on sunlight. “String of pearls love a bit of morning sun if you have an east-facing window,” says Schutter. 

4. Spider plant

Another low-maintenance option is the spider plant, which grows long, spider leg-like leaves. Compared to other trailing plants, this one remains relatively small when thriving, so it’s a great pick for smaller shelves or tight ceiling corners. “Plus, I find that the spider plant is almost impossible to kill,” says Tina Ho of Good Plant Care.

Best Plants for a Sunny Kitchen Window 

1. Cacti 

Lucky enough to have a sunny window in your kitchen? Nussman-Berry says cacti thrive in direct light — plus, they aren’t too expensive and can often be found in local stores. Just be aware that you may need a spacious kitchen (or the option to relocate your plant). “Buy a small one and it has the potential to grow large in a bright spot,” she says. 

2. Palms

To add a playful feel to your kitchen, add a sun-loving palm tree, such as the Majesty or Parlor Palm. “Besides transforming your kitchen to a tropical paradise, they are bold and make a statement with leaves that branch out,” says Nussman-Barry. 

3. Jade plant

Another succulent recommendation: the Jade Plant, Schutter says, loves bright light and can tolerate inconsistent watering patterns, so it’s great for beginners. Also, its thick, waxy leaves make it really pest-resistant, which is important for plants that might be in the kitchen or around varying amounts of humidity and heat. 

4. Aloe vera

Aloe vera, known for its spiky, succulent leaves, loves sunlight and also serves a practical purpose: “You can use its gel for soothing minor burns, [which is] pretty handy to have around the kitchen,” says Schutter. 

Best Plants for a Dark Kitchen Without Many Windows

1. Bamboo 

Although all plants love, benefit from, and need light to survive, some plants can handle low light more than others, such as bamboo. “This plant is

fun to look at

2. Money trees

Money trees can also survive in poor lighting conditions. “They will grow a little slower with not as much light, but this also makes them great for those wanting to add some green without taking up too much space,” says Nussman-Berry. 

3. Snake plant

Looking for a nearly indestructible plant that can handle inconsistent watering and low-light conditions? Schutter recommends the vertical-growing, super-resilient snake plant for a fun statement on a corner counter, or in a pot on the floor. 

Best Plants for a Humid Kitchen

1. Peace lilies 

If you use your stove to cook a lot, or don’t have much ventilation in your kitchen, you have lots of options. Most indoor plants love humidity, as they’re often native to humid tropical forest understories, and Schutter says the flowering peace lily is no exception. Pro tip: Peace lilies can be finicky if under-watered. If yours becomes droopy, giving it a good bath in the nearby sink may help it perk up ASAP!

2. Boston ferns 

While they have delicate, feathery fronds that soften a space, Boston ferns are quite resilient and grow lush in high humidity. “They’re also some of the best air-filtering plants,” says Schutter. FYI, Boston ferns do need a bit more care than some plants — they prefer indirect light and require regular watering, ensuring the soil remains damp but not soggy. 

3. Areca palm 

Another lush, tropical option for your kitchen: the areca palm, aka the bamboo palm. “Tropical plants absolutely love humidity, which means you could go for a real statement piece like this one,” Ho says.

Best Edible Plants for the Kitchen

1. Herbs 

For those looking for a touch of green and some help in the kitchen, consider an edible herb, such as basil, rosemary, parsley, or mint. Schutter says all of them can be grown in small pots and kept on a windowsill (they love light). Just give them a thorough watering when the top soil dries out. 

2. “Micro Tom” tomatoes

This is a dwarf tomato plant variety that’s perfect for growing indoors with a limited amount of space. “They grow less than a foot tall, have a pretty decent fruit yield, and usually take 90 to 100 days to produce fruit, so the wait isn’t that long,” says Schutter. Just in time for a perfect summer BLT!

Keeping Kitchen Plants Happy 

Once you find the perfect plants for your kitchen, keep in mind they may need some TLC to stay happy and healthy. Kitchens can experience major temperature fluctuations when you’re cooking, and some plants are sensitive to those sudden changes. “Keep them away from the oven if you notice a lot of dropping leaves,” says Schutter.

Be wary of overwatering, too. While it’s convenient to have the sink nearby, overwatering is one of the most common plant care mistakes. Schutter recommends watering when the top few inches of your soil is dry (and a lot longer for succulents). 

Lastly, cooking can lead to a buildup of grease and grime that may end up settling on your plants. Regularly wipe down your plants’ leaves with a damp cloth to keep them clean so they can absorb light correctly. “This will also help prevent pests like spider mites, who really dislike moisture,” says Schutter.