One thing I miss while being on a sailboat is having a little garden. Whether it be a flower garden or a veggie garden, there’s just something about seeing something live and grow and thrive that is good for the spirit.
Recently I started doing some research into plants that could potentially thrive on a boat. Low water plants are best if you don’t live on your boat, since it’s ok if you can’t water them daily, or even weekly. The low light isn’t a necessity when choosing a plant that can live on your stern rail or cockpit (if your cockpit gets plenty of light), but for the most part, we’re talking about plants you can have down in your cabin, so low-light requirements are helpful when choosing your plant.
Another reason you may want to consider keeping a plant on your boat is their air purification properties. Did you know that NASA keeps certain plants in the space station because they help combat mold! Since mold is always a potential issue on a boat, this is a great way to help keep the mold down.
Here are a few ideas for some boat-friendly plants that you may want to consider having on board.
5 Low Maintenance, Boat-Friendly Plants
- Bamboo – Most of you have probably seen these little bamboo plants that you can get for just a few dollars. They sit in water, so you don’t have to water them often, and they require very little maintenance. The key is to make sure you put it in a container that won’t tip over.
- English Ivy – A fellow sailor uses English Ivy, (also one of NASA’s top choices), which helps purify the air, and she swears by its mold-inhibiting properties.
- Aloe Vera – not only does it look nice, require very little maintentance, and help sunburn by breaking off a leaf and applying the gel to your skin, it also cleans the air of chemicals often found in paint and other cleaners. This is also a favorite of NASA.
- Crucifix Orchid – a fellow sailor told me that she was able to grow a beautiful orchid by simply sticking it in a jar of water. Like the bamboo, you’d want to be sure that the jar is secure so it won’t tip over and spill the water everywhere.
- Herbs – many boaters have their own herb gardens on their boat! I’ve seen them on stern rails and in the saloon. Some types may require a little extra attention or liquid fertilizer to make sure they grow and thrive, but herbs are a great idea on a boat, as you can use them to spice up your cooking, and many of them smell fantastic (think mint, basil, or rosemary).
This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if you have a favorite that you don’t see here, please post it in the comments!