Floriculture or flower farming, is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens and floristry, comprising the floral industry. The development plant breeding of new varieties is a major occupation of floriculturists.

Floriculture crops include bedding plants, flowering plants, foliage plants or houseplants, cut cultivated greens, and cut flowers. As distinguished from nursery crops, floriculture crops are generally herbaceous. Bedding and garden plants consist of young flowering plants (annuals and perennials) and vegetable plants. They are grown in cell packs (in flats or trays), in pots, or in hanging baskets, usually inside a controlled environment, and sold largely for gardens and landscaping. Geraniums, impatiens, and petunias are the best-selling bedding plants. Chrysanthemums are the major perennial garden plant in the United States.

Flowering plants are largely sold in pots for indoor use. The major flowering plants are poinsettias, orchids, florist chrysanthemums, and finished florist azaleas. Foliage plants are also sold in pots and hanging baskets for indoor and patio use, including larger specimens for office, hotel, and restaurant interiors.

Cut flowers are usually sold in bunches or as bouquets with cut foliage. The production of cut flowers is specifically known as the cut flower industry. Farming flowers and foliage employs special aspects of floriculture, such as spacing, training and pruning plants for optimal flower harvest; and post-harvest treatment such as chemical treatments, storage, preservation and packaging. In Australia some species are harvested from the wild for the cut flower market.
Area Of Cultivation

Of the four zones identified as potential centres for flower production namely Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and New Delhi, the area around Bangalore and Pune have got the advantage of ideal climatic conditions where the temperature ranges between 15 to 30ºC. In view of this, the units established in these locations do not require either cooling or heating system.

The units located around New Delhi, though are near to the to the international airport but have the disadvantage of high as well as low temperatures resulting in additional capital investment for installation of cooling and heating system, besides incurring additional running cost for the power and energy

Hyderabad has got the disadvantage of experiencing high summer temperature, necessitating the airport forcing the units to send flowers through Bangalore of Mumbai airport, which resulted in additional cost compared to the sectors like Pune and Bangalore.

Among the four major sectors from the point of view of agro-climatic conditions and cost effectiveness Bangalore is considered the most ideal location for setting up of floriculture units for export followed by Pune. This is evident from maximum number of units being established in these two sectors.

Mentioned below are the basic features of various flowers.

Plenty of light, humid and moderate temperature ranging from 150oC to 200oC is considered as an ideal condition for production of roses in the tropical and sub-tropical climate of India. When roses are grown at a temperature below 150oC, the interval between flushes becomes long. At higher temperature above 300oC roses can be grown provided high humidity is maintained and evaporation rate is brought down.

Rose crop requires to be grown in a soil with good drainage properties rich in organic matter and oxygen. Organic matter as high as 30% in the top 30cm of the growing beds is provided. The pH of the soil should be around 6 to 6.5, i.e., slightly acidic soil is considered more suitable for rose cultivation.

In case the plant is in green house, the area is normally divided into 2 parts A&B, consisting roughly ½ ha, each. When the green house area is 1 ha. Each area is having about 91 meters length is which 56 beds of 1.2 meter each and 0.4 metes for furrow path area are provided. Therefore, the size of each bed is of 26.25-meter length, 1.2-meter width. The plants are planted in the bed by providing spacing of 0.6 meter between rows and 0.17 meter between the plants. With this spacing, the plant density comes to 700000 plants per ha. As against the 2 rows system of planting followed in many units, some of the companies like Unit-11, Unit-20, Unit-19 etc. established with the collaboration of M/s Flodac have gone for 3 rows system which has resulted in high rate of fungal disease and also difficulty faced in carrying out inter-cultural operations. These units have removed the 3rd row in the second year of planting hence; it is advisable to go only for 2 rows system of planting for better inter-cultural operation and also to avoid attack of fungal diseases.

Rose plants under protected green house condition require approximately 1 ltr of water per plant per day. Except for the very old units, most of the other units are adopting drip irrigation system from the reputed companies to deliver the above quantity of water. A drainage line is also provided below the beds for disposal of excess water.

Organic manure is required to be added so that top 30 cms of the soil has 30% of organic matter content. A dose of 25 kg of manure per square meter will take care of this requirement. Applications of inorganic fertilizers including micronutrients are supplied during irrigation time alongwith the Drip lines. Majority of the units are having fertigation tanks and supplying the required quantity of both major and minor nutrients as per the requirement of the plant based on the soil test reports.

Nutritional requirements, pruning methodology, planting distance and use of growth-regulating chemicals in field-grown roses cv. Super Star and Raktagandha for production of first grade flowers with maximum yield have been standardized at the IARI, New Delhi. A fertilizer dose comprising 520 kg N, 868 kg P2O5 and 694 kg K2O has been recommended/ha. Among the secondary nutrients, application of 50 kg MgSO4/ha was found to be beneficial. Out of the several micronutrients, spray of FeSO4 1.0% and ZnSO4 0.5% during November and January was most effective. Plants pruned at 45 cm height from ground level retaining only 4 healthy shoots during mid-October to mid-November, an spaced at a distance of 30 cm x 40 cm gave maximum flower yield per unit area.

Gladiolus is one of the most important bulbous flowering crops grown commercially for cut-flower trade in India. Fertilizer trials have revealed that best results an be obtained with 400 g N, 100g P and 200 g K/ha in cv Snow Princess at the PAU, Ludhiana; 500 g N, 200 g P and 300 g K/ha in cv Vinks Glory at the BCKV, West Bengal; 400 g N, 300 g P and 200 K/ha in cv Friendship at the IIHR, Bangalore, and 500 g N, 200 P and 200 g K/ha in cv Tropic Sea at the BCKV, Kalimpong.

Chrysanthemum is recognized as a potent flower crop in India. It is used as a cut-flower for interior decoration and as a loose flowers for making garlands, wreaths and for religious offerings. Technology for year-round blooming in chryasanthemum has been standardized at the NBRI, Lucknow. About 150 cultivators have been screened at the institute for their photo-induction requirement and these have been classified into 7 response groups ranging from 7 to 13 weeks. The miniculture technique standardized at the NBRI, shows how pot culture of chrysanthemum can be made cheaper, easier, aesthetically rewarding and commercially more profitable.

Bougainvillea is an important and popular flowering plant grown widely throughout the country. To obtain dwarf, bushy and attractive pot plants, 8 varieties of bougainvillea were treated with cycocel and SADH as foliar sprays once at 4,000 an 8,000 ppm, and twice within 8,000 ppm. Soil drench with cycocel was done at 2,000 and 4,000 ppm once, and twice with 4,000 ppm. Considering the reduction in plant height and improvement in flowering, double application of SADH at 8,000 ppm as foliar spray was recommended for dwarfing different varieties of bougainvillea in pots. SADH treated plants also produced larger number of axillary branches and flowering shoots.
Jasmine finds a very important place both in the perfume industry and flower market. Research work on standardization of agro-technology in jasmine was carried in different parts of India; notable among these are the IIHR, Bangalore and the TNAU, Coimbatore.

A complete agro-technology has been worked out for Jasminum grandiflorum at the IIHR, Bangalore, through large number of field trials. For maximum yield of flowers and high recovery of essential oil, the plants are required to be spaced at a distance of 1.80 m², pruned at 90 cm height from ground level, retaining only 10 shoots in mid-December, and fertilized with 100 g N, 150 g P2O5 and 100 g K2O/plan/year over a basal dose of 10 kg of FYM. Among the defolians, pentachlorophenol at 3,000 ppm and potassium iodide at 4,000 ppm have been identified for their beneficial effect on growth and flowering of J. grandiflorum.
Tuberose is grown commercially in India for cut-flower and loose flower trade. Planting during April-March was suitable for Single variety. Pre-planting treatment of tuberose Single bulbs with GA3 significantly increased the rachis length. Trials conducted at the Indian Botanical Garden, Howrah, West Bengal, revealed that planting of 3.0 to 3.5 cm diameter bulbs at a depth of 4 cm, spaced at a distance of 25 cm each way and fertilized with 20 g N, 40 g/m² each of P2O5 and K2O, resulted in maximum number of flower spike production, with more number of florets on long rachis.

The effective herbicide in controlling weeds in tuberose was found to be Alachor 2.0 kg/ha, Pendimenthalin 1.25 kg/ha and Metalachlor 2.0 kg/ha. Treatment with Pendimethalin 1.25 kg/ha resulted in higher flower yield and more number of bulblets/plant.

Orchids produce remarkably attractive flowers with long lasting quality. Aerides multiflorum, a monopodial epiphyte, performed best in a substrate of hard-wood charcoal. Dendroblum moschatum, a sympodial epiphytic orchid, showed marked improvement in growth and flowering of the plants with the treatment of tree fern fibre.Cymbidium aloifolium and Phaius tankervilliae, the terrestrial orchids, responded well with organic-rich porous compost. Best results in vegetative growth and flowering of these 2 species were obtained when plants were grown in a compost containing mixture of 1 part each of loamy soil, river sand and leaf mould, and half part each of charcoal dust and old mortar.
Marigold is an important floriculture crop. Investigations on the effect of nutrients and growth retardants on African marigold at the UAS, Bangalore, showed that application of N, P K at 250:200:100 kg/ha and spraying of cycocel twice at 2,000 ppm in the second and fourth week after transplanting, resulted in higher flower yield and quality flowers. The maximum flower yiled (22.19 tonees/ha) of African marigold was recorded in the closes spacing (30 cm x 30 cm). Higher level of N (100 kg/ha) recorded a significantly higher flower yield (20.47 tonnes/ha) as compared to control at the GAU, Anand.
China aster
The experiments at the NBRI were directed to achieve loner stems and larger flower heads in China aster to improve its commercial value. Application of 100 ppm GA3 produced the desired results.
Institutional Support for Floriculture
Government of India. The Government plays a crucial role in physical planning, infrastructure creation, tax legislation and policies in respect of export oriented floriculture units through its various ministries and also provides subsidy through its specialized bodies like NHB and APEDA.The tax legislative measures that are favorable to the Indian Floriculture industry are as follows:

  • Zero import duties on import of plant materials and without the need of an import license.
  • Duty free imports on certain components of green house structure.

Growth prospects
The Indian floriculture industry is poised for high growth and that is the opinion of most experts in the field. Enormous genetic diversity, varied agro climatic conditions, versatile human resources etc, are certain factors that contribute to it.

The exports have registered an impressive growth from Rs 18.83 crore in 1993-94 to Rs 298.57 crore in 2005-06. R K Mondal, Regional In-Charge, APEDA, Mumbai says,“Dry flowers are the future of this industry. It will be the greatest foreign exchange earner for the industry.”

According to Dr Prasad,“Other factors like the retail revolution, contract farming of flowers for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical compounds, essential oils and other value added products would further fuel the industry.”

Employment opportunities
One can find employment in the floriculture industry as a farm/ estate manager, plantation expert, supervisor, or project coordinator. Research and teaching are some other avenues of employment in the field. Marketing of floriculture products for different ventures is emerging as a potential segment in the field. Besides, one can work as consultant or landscape architect with proper training.

There are also opportunities for entrepreneurs who offer employment to others. In addition to these careers, which involve research and actual growing of crops, floriculture also provides service career opportunities, which include such jobs as floral designers, groundskeepers, landscape designers, architects and horticultural therapists. Such jobs will require direct client interaction.

Future in the field
Literally speaking, qualified professionals have a bouquet of options to choose from. According to Megha Borse,successful new genre floriculturist and thePresident of Flower Growers’ Association, Maharashtra, you need to really work hard on the field to make a living in this industry. She says,“Floriculture, after all, is an industry and has to be managed in a planned, methodical manner.” Talking about her humble beginnings, she says,“Iwanted to establish an export oriented industry. It was when I came across the Green House concept, I thought of making a career in floriculture. The best part of floriculture is that it is not dependent on weather. That gives you assured produce and guaranteed income. The investment was approximately Rs 13 lakh to begin with (excluding land cost) for a 1000 square metre green house. Today, it is easy to get loans from banks. There are also many supportive schemes from National Horticulture Board, National Horticulture Mission and Agriculture departments.”

Floriculture is a fashion driven industry where the trends evolve and vanish in quick succession.“To make a rewarding career in floriculture, the golden rule is to be innovative and constantly evolve novel ideas and products that are in sync with the current global trends,” opines Dr Prasad.

Training talk

To prepare for a career in floriculture, the best option is to acquire a four-year BSc (horticulture) degree or to study horticulture as a subject in a BSc (agriculture) degree programme. Subsequently, an MSc in horticulture, followed by a PhD and postdoctoral fellowship is ideal.Graduate and postgraduate training in horticulture/ floriculture are available in the following educational institutes:

  •   Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi
  •   Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore
  •   National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow

Agricultural Universities in Maharastra

  •   Marathwada Agril. University, Parbhani
  •   Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri