The kitchen offers excellent growing conditions for houseplants. Steam from cooking and running water at the sink add moisture to the air which results in favorable humidity for plants.
In the kitchen, as elsewhere, the amount of light influences the choice of plants. Natural light from a window may be adequate, but may need to be supplemented with artificial light. An improvement in efficiency and economy of lighting can be achieved by adding fluorescent light fixtures to replace incandescent bulbs.
In many kitchens the sink is in front of a window. Brackets on the window frame can be spaced to support one, two or three glass shelves for plants; glass does not obstruct the passage of light to plants on lower shelves. A single shallow plastic plant tray designed for windowsills also can be used and will hold several small pots.
Plants displayed behind a sink should be unobtrusive; dangling foliage is a nuisance; overlarge leaves are in danger of being splashed. Be certain of your choice of plants for an uncurtained window; many foliage plants prefer filtered light.
Tiered shelves at the sides of an east-facing window afford a setting for dramatic African violets. Or let the clover-like red foliage of Oxalis siliquosa trail its yellow blossoms from the top shelf. In a less warm and bright exposure, use plants grown only for foliage, such as grape ivy or plectranthus.
A sunny windowsill is the place for your herb garden - chives, thyme, basil, parsley. Buy herb plants (rather than growing from seed) and keep pinching them to thwart their urge to flower and seed. Scented geraniums are sources of flavor and fragrance and as such belong in your sunny herb window.
Remember to keep a "burn plant" (Aloe vera) near the stove for use as emergency treatment of burns; apply the pulp to a burn immediately after it has occurred.
Assign space on top of the refrigerator for a waterproof box or pebble tray for pots of philodendron or pothos. If space is sufficient, here is a chance to use a fern hanging basket.
That windowless enclave called kitchenette can be given distinction by adding a plant or two. Its chief short-coming, lack of light, has to be corrected first. One ceiling fixture is scarcely enough to read a recipe by, let alone to give encouragement to plant life.
If there is as much as a foot of space between the top of the refrigerator and the ceiling, install a fluorescent light fixture and grow African violets or an assortment of low-growing herbs.
Substitute a fluorescent tube for an incandescent bulb over the sink; hang a pottery bowl of grape ivy on a swivel bracket at one side to swing over and bask in the unreal sunlight when you are not using the sink.
Tillandsia, the tiny relative of the pineapple, growing in a shell or stapled to a piece of bark or driftwood, is almost weightless; hang it near the sink where you'll remember to dip it or mist it to encourage blooming; or prop it on any shelf among small ornaments or utensils.
Today's kitchens often include or adjoin a dining area or breakfast counter. Plants can be effectively used to help divide the working part from the dining part.
Built-in dividers, such as a bookshelf or china cabinet, are ready-made, above-eye-level pedestals for a special plant, such as spathiphyllum, indoor bonsai or trailing type peperomia.The serving and eating counter itself may be the divider; hanging baskets of ferns over it will help define the separation.
Where it is not feasible to install fluorescent lighting, table, floor, or hanging lamps designed for illuminating plants may be used. Plant growth bulbs require a ceramic socket to disperse the heat, so be sure that any lamp purchased for this use is so equipped.
Inspect all your plants at least once a month for insect pests. Use the spray attachment of the kitchen water faucet for forceful insect removal, or wash plants with mild soap and water and then rinse. Always wash any herbs to be used in cooking.
If insect infestation calls for treatment with an insecticidal spray, take the plants out of the kitchen or out of the house for treatment.