Good plant care usually requires a green thumb, but when it
comes to maintaining plants on board, that one green thumb most likely needs to
turn into two. With too little light down below and too much light above deck,
and on a vessel that is constantly traveling to different climates, it’s not
always an easy feat to keep a plant alive. But that’s no excuse to omit flowers
on board — they add a sense of hominess to the yacht. All they need is a bit of
time, effort, and careful consideration when it comes to their setting.
When in an outdoor environment, extreme sunlight and bad
weather can make it harder to healthily maintain the plants, says Eileen Chang
of Yacht Flowers.
“Outdoor, mostly on the sun deck, the sun is harsh and the
plant is also exposed to salt and a lot of wind,” says co-owner of Yacht Floral Design Julien Halimi, adding that the salt is corrosive and really bad for
most plants, so outdoor plants require strong leaves.
“Indoor, you usually have to deal with heavy air
conditioning, draft air (lots of large windows and doors opening and closing
all the time), and a lack of light (bathrooms, spas, beach clubs),” notes Halimi.
He says the right setting depends on where exactly you put
the plant and what kind of plant it is. For example, zamioculcas in dark rooms
need water just twice a month, and orchids in the main salon need water once a
week and no direct air conditioning. He recommends both plants, along with beaucarnea
bonsais, as good choices for the interior.
Chang adds that for phalnopsis/moth orchids, another great
plant for the interior, the best area is under the shade but with bright light.
“The phalnopsis orchid is a classic long-lasting blooming plant, and it’s not
hard to care [for] when you understand its character,” she says. “No direct
sunlight — a few hours of morning light is always great, but not all day, of
course. Don’t overwater it, and it’s golden.”
She also says zamifolia and sansevieria trifasciata do well
indoors, both of which have “beautiful foliage strong enough for full sunlight
and bad weather.” And when it comes to succulents, most usually require the
most sunlight; however, not all do well outdoors or need as much sunshine. Just
look at bamboo, which usually does well indoors with minimum light.
In addition to succulents, Halimi says that yuccas and
cyccas are best for the sun deck and that you can use ficus bonsais on the aft
deck, where they also get shade.
“The best place for a plant would be in a corner of a room,
full of light with people around,” says Halimi. “It sounds weird but the human
factor is important.”
For example, if you put two orchid arrangements in two
separate rooms with the same conditions (light, air conditioning, etc.), one
room always full of people and the other typically empty, after a month or two
you’ll see a difference — the orchids in the busy room will look much better, Halimi
Where you get your plants from also plays a factor in their
health, he adds. They should come from a proper nursery, where they have
already seen plenty of sun. “If you get plants from supermarkets, they will
turn yellow and burn within two weeks because those come from greenhouses and
are grown fast and fed with chemicals and have never seen a sunray. They are
okay for inside only.”
So, with the right attention to your plant’s previous home
and its new home at sea, you can create a little nursery right on board.