Choose well, monitor, feed to boost best blossoms onboard

Jun 3, 2016 by Alene Keenan

Flowers add a touch of beauty and are often an integral part of the design aesthetic of a yacht. Many yachts have a floral budget to hire a florist to recreate signature floral arrangements for each time guests are onboard. If that is the case, take photos, and make a list of the names of the flowers you need and the number of stems that go into each arrangement.

The task of choosing flowers yourself for the boat is a bit more difficult. Choose no more than four or five types of flowers in harmonious colors that match the décor of the boat. Buy flowers that have some blossoms still in the bud stage and some that are already open so they will last longer. Be aware of scent when choosing flowers. Fragrant flowers may be overpowering.

Whether you hire a florist or arrange the flowers yourself, it is the stew’s job to make the flowers last. Here are some tips to help keep them fresh longer.

  1. The lifespan of your flowers will depend on whether or not they come from a reputable supplier. A grocery store may not have the type of arrangement with their supplier that allows them to guarantee your flowers will last a minimum time. It is a good idea to create a relationship with a reputable florist.
  2.  Flowers are thirsty. They need to be pre-conditioned before arranging. Soak them in water before preparing the stems and arranging them. It is important to give enough to drink at this stage to harden them and keep them in shape for as long as possible.

Preparing the stems expose more surface area and increase absorption. Think of them as straws, and keep them open to let your flowers drink. The first step is to strip excess leaves. Then use a sharp knife to cut stems at a 45-degree angle. This sharp cut prevents the ends from being crushed. The angle prevents stems from resting flat on the bottom of the vase.

  1. To really help your flowers last, consider using a hydrating treatment like Floralife Quick Dip before putting them into the vase containing water and flower food.
  2. To encourage buds to open, strip off more leaves.
  3. Containers matter.  Vases can carry bacteria that will infect flowers. Clean vases between uses. Use soapy water and rinse with a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach. Rinse well and dry before using.  Metal vases can change the pH of water, so be sure to use an insert inside a metal vase.
  4. Feed your flowers. That packet of floral food that comes with your flowers is important. It contains not only nutrients, but an acidifier to improve the pH of the water and an antibacterial to prevent the growth of bacteria. You can buy liquid floral food that is absorbed easily and works well.
  5.  Add some TLC to prolong the life and look of your flowers.  Don’t just arrange them and forget them. Stems will become waterlogged, soft, and unable to take up water. Blooms will droop and lose their petals more quickly. To prevent this, rehydrate them every few days by recutting stems, removing about another half-inch.
  • Strip off foliage that will be below the water line.
  • Change the water and add new floral preservative.
  • Mist flower heads to refresh them, especially hydrangeas.  
  • Remove wilting blooms. Fading blossoms emit ethylene gas that shortens the life of flowers.
  • Remove pollen to prevent stains on petals or clothing and to keep allergy sufferers from experiencing any symptoms. To do so: gently pull the pollen-laden stamens from the center with your thumb and forefinger.

Flowers do best if they can be kept quite cool. Keep arrangements away from direct heat or sunlight, out of drafts and away from the direct flow of air conditioning.

Everyone loves beautiful flowers and the feelings they invoke. It is a shame to let them lose their brilliance too quickly. Follow these simple tips for caring for your flowers, and they will last longer for your guests’ enjoyment.

Alene Keenan is lead instructor of yacht interior courses at Maritime Professional Training in Ft. Lauderdale. She shares her experience from more than 20 years as a stew in her book, “The Yacht Guru’s Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht”, available at and on Contact her at



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