8 Great Houseplants for the Kitchen

terracotta planter of thyme on kitchen sink

Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

From helping clear the air to offering a culinary assist, these houseplants make great partners for the kitchen.

The more we learn about the fantastic benefits of houseplants, the more I want them in every room of the house. I've written about "shower plants" and plants that are great for the bedroom – so next up, plants that work well in the kitchen. Not only are they great for helping purify the air, but some offer obvious culinary benefits, and all of them promise to brighten up one's day. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Golden pothos

golden pothos in glass ball jar kitchen

Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

Also known as devil’s ivy or the money plant, the golden pothos has a lot going for it. In the famed NASA research looking at how houseplants clean the air of pollutants, golden pothos was a superstar. When asked what plant he recommends, Bill Wolverton, a former NASA research scientist who conducted the 1989 plant study, told Time:“The Boston fern is one of the most effective plants for removing airborne pollutants, but it is often difficult to grow indoors. I usually recommend the golden pothos as my first choice, since it is a popular plant and easy to grow.”

Since the kitchen, especially with its cleaning products and gas cooking, can be a fume-y place, this air cleaning plant can be put to good work. It is also very, very forgiving in terms of care. It is mildly toxic to cats and dogs.

2. Aloe vera

aloe vera plant in kitchen on butcher block

Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

Also known as the burn plant, lily of the desert, elephant’s gall, and the “plant of immortality,” aloe vera is perfect for the kitchen. It is super hardy and easy to care for, and its gel provides proven quick relief for minor burns. Plus, it also helps purify the air. It's mildly toxic for cats and dogs.

3. Cast iron plant

hand places cast iron plant in terracotta pot on desk

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Also know as iron plant and bar room plant, this favorite of the Victorians is as durable as its name suggests – it can handle a variety of extremes and is hard to kill. Which makes it a great choice for the kitchen! This member of the lily family in a native of China and will reach a height of about two feet. And bonus points for being non-toxic to dogs and cats.

4. Nasturtium


© Katie Kirkland

I haven't seen these popular garden plants used as houseplants that frequently, but I have had them thrive in pots on my windowsill and they have been an enormous pleasure. Not only are they just so cheerful, but they are delicious! The edible flowers are vibrant and peppery, the leaves can be added to salads, and even the seed pods can be pickled for "poor man's capers." Also non-toxic to cats and dogs.

5. Rosemary

rosemary and other plants in kitchen near city window

Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

I love growing rosemary inside for many reasons. It's beautiful and fragrant; and instead of needing to buy a whole bunch at the market, you can just snip a little off as you need it. The flowers are delicious too. I have had good luck keeping rosemary alive in a sunny spot, but it can be a little tricky. If you don't love rosemary, consider delicious thyme or oregano. Rosemary is another one that is non-toxic to cats and dogs.

6. English ivy

English ivy plant next to kitchen mitt and hot plate

Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

Another plant known for its purifying action, this pretty plant is a boon to the kitchen for helping to keep the air clean. It's easy to grow inside and comes in a lot of varieties. It looks especially nice hanging, which is also a good way to keep it away from cats and dogs, for whom it is toxic.

7. Cilantro

potted cilantro

© Thanthip Homs

I am on Team Cilantro and can not get enough of it, so I think it's a great candidate for a windowsill pot or even a kitchen window box. I love to eat the leaves, the flowers, and the seeds – also known as coriander seeds. If you are of the cilantro-is-disgusting-and-tastes-like-soap persuasion, basil, mint, or parsley are great alternatives.

8. Bromeliad

bromeliad plant next to oven range kitchen

Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

After the NASA research, another group of scientists looked at the air-purifying traits of specific plants; they found that the bromeliad plant was a workhorse for removing six of the eight VOCs they tested, taking up more than 80 percent of each over a 12-hour sampling period. They are lovely and great for adding a hint of the tropics to a bright kitchen. They are non-toxic to cats and dogs.

For many more houseplant ideas, see the related stories below.