The Indian export of floriculture produce is around Rs.1058 million in which dry flower share is around 696 million rupees and of dried plants is 65 million .The dried flowers and foliage are exported to USA, Japan, Europe, Israel, UK, Germany and Italy. The dry flower industry is considered the most profitable industry as it can be started at the cost of 30-50 thousand rupees and in turn gives 100 times returns with no risk factor. Thus it needs proper awareness and skilled hands so as to boost the economy as far as floriculture is concerned. India is one of the major exporters of dried flowers to the tune of 5% world trade in dry flowers.
Flowers are God's creation and a precious gift to human beings. It is said man is born with flowers and finally dies with flowers. Flowers have been an integral part of humans from the time of immortals. The short vase life of the flower is always questionable. The round the year availability of flowers is the need of the time, but it needs some skill. Fresh flowers are attractive in appearance but the vase life is too short which is a limitation for its use for a longer time. Comparing this with dry flowers the beauty and charm can be preserved for a long time ranging from six months to one year by the method of dehydration and drying. Such flowers are less attractive than cut flowers but can be preserved for a long time. The removal of moisture minimizes physiological functions and microbial activity thus vase life is enhanced. Besides this ornamental foliage after drying retains freshness and charm for a longer time.
What is dry flower or foliage?
The removal of moisture and to control physiological functions apart restricts microbial infection by which a plant material retains beauty for a longer time. It enhances aesthetic value, longevity and year round availability of ornamental flowers and foliage.
Potpourri, Arrangements, Floral Handicrafts, Fillers and main blooms are some important utilities of dry flowers.
Stage of harvesting
Studies reveal that the harvesting stage for drying varies from one flower to another depending upon the aesthetic taste. Amaranthus, French marigold and zinnia are examples of such flowers which are harvested at full bloom stage as the results of drying are excellent. While as Gomphrena globosa is harvested at 50 % maturity
Selection of flower and foliage
The selection of flowers is mainly done on the basis of international market demand. The most important flower crops which are demanded in the international market are: Helechrysum, Salvia, Lupin, Goldenrod, conifer[Pods],Flower spikes of Honesty(Silver dollar),Nigellia etc are in huge demand internationally.
Types of drying:
There are two ways of flower drying achieved, one is natural drying on plants in the field like Honesty, Nigella etc and the other one is following the technical process of drying different parts of the plant.
Precautions of harvesting:
1) Collect plant parts when dry conditions prevail
2) Use a sharp knife or other equipment for harvesting.
3) Plants should be free of insects or diseases.
4) Immediately after harvesting the flowers, put the stem in water to retain freshness until a drying operation is followed.
5) Follow a standard method for drying a particular flower of any plant part.
Methods of flower drying
The important methods employed for drying are :
1. Silica gel method
2. Borax and alum method
3. Sand method
4. Air drying
5. Sun drying
6. Oven drying
7. Micro oven drying
8. Press drying and herbarium drying
9. Glycerin method
1. Silica gel method:
Blue colour crystals of silica gel are used for drying of flowers. The crystals are first ground in a container followed by the material to be dried insertion. The material to be dried is inserted and wrapped with crystal layers. When the crystals attain a pink colour it indicates that drying is complete. This method is considered the most suitable method. Silica gel method no doubt is costly but the advantage of this method is that crystals are dried after use and are reused for more drying.
2. Borax and alum method
This technique of flower drying is used for delicate flowers as the crystals are lighter in weight. The process is the same as in the case of the silica gel method. The crystals are grounded in a container in which drying is to be carried out and the material to be dried is kept over the crystal and covered with crystals of borax and alum. The process of drying takes two to three days for completion.
3. Sand drying
Well sterilized sand should be used for drying of flowers or foliages. The method is followed as per the planting material available. For weak stemmed flowers wire is inserted or used for supporting purposes. The container is filled about 5 cm with sand and material to be dried is kept over it and the sand is poured over the embedded planting material. This takes time for drying but it prevents shrinkage of petals.
4. Air drying
This is the simplest and cheapest method adopted for flower drying and requires rope, wire or blotting sheet or newspapers for completion of drying process. Flowers are dried by hanging in an inverted position or keeping them erect up to desiccation. Well ventilated room with room temperature around 10 0C is suitable for drying purposes. It has the disadvantage that it depends upon the climatic condition and there are chances of petal shrinkage. Flowers can also be kept on blotting sheets or newspaper under this climatic condition till drying.
5 Sun drying
This method is the cheapest method of drying. The drying material can be anything, but the care is taken that the material which is to be dried is kept in embedded condition. During the day the embedded material is exposed to sun and kept under roof at evening or adverse climatic conditions. This type of drying is dependent on prevailing weather conditions.
6 Oven drying
This method is based on desiccation under electrically operated oven at a specific temperature for a particular duration depending upon the planting material. The embedded material is desiccated and such material retains beauty without any damage as oven drying is the most efficient method among the method of drying. Besides, it is a fast and safe method.
7. Micro oven method
This method is based on the principle of desiccation by agitation. With the help of micro waves which are electrically operated, drying takes place. The desiccant used in this method can be silica gel, sand etc. The embedded material contained in the container is kept under a micro oven for a specific period of time. Then the planting material after drying is kept under room temperature for a small duration for cooling purposes. The planting material which is dried is then removed from the drying media carefully without damage.
8. Press drying or herbarium drying
Planting material to be dried is kept between the fold of newspaper, sheet etc. In most of the flowers, flower stalk is cut before drying. Corrugated boards of the same size are placed between the folds and pressed up to desiccation.
9. Glycerin method
In this method the flower stem is cut and placed in a container ,containing 4 parts glycerin and 2 part boiling water. This is left for 3-6 days. The tips of the leaves are brushed with glycerin and water solution. Glycerin replaces the water content instead of removing it and change in colour gives excellent results.
Standardization of Methods For Different Crops
Thuja,Adiantum,Calliandra, Chrysanthemum, Rose, Verbena, Pansy, Grasses, Foliage Of Cassia Biflora, Golden Fern, Silver Fern.
Candytuft, Gerbera, Gomphrema Globosa, Hellichrysum, Zinnia, Rose, Bougainvillea, Narcissus, Dahlia, Gladiolus, African Marigold, French Marigold, Nymphae Sp., Gerbera.
Micro Oven Drying
Antirrhinum Majus, CallisTephus Chinensis, Chrysanthemum, Dahalia, Bougainvillea, Narcissus,Gerbera, Gladiolus, Phlox, Ixora, Water Lily , Limonium,
Silica Gel Method
Rose, Carnation, Hellichrysum, Ferns, Asparagus, Silver Oak, Anemone, Snapdragon, Cosmos, Freesia
Borax And Alum Method
Anemone , Cosmose, And Other Delicate Flowers
Dahalia, Bouganvillae, Candytuft, Chrysanthemum, Marigold, Rose, Carnation, Statice, Gerbera.
Flower Drying In Oven (Hours)
Acrolinium, Aster, Bougainvillea Candytuft 45- 50 0C
Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Marigold, Zinnia, 48 0C
African Marigold 720C
Snapdragon, China Aster, Chrysenthemum, 3 Minutes
Gerbera, Gladiolus, Candytuft, Gulmohar, 2 Minute
Delphinium, Helichrysum,Phlox,Limonium 2.5 Minutes
Water Lily 4 Minute
Poinciana Pulcherrima 1 Minute
Foliage Of Thuja , Grevillea, Adiantum, 35-39 0C
Flowers Of Hibiscus, Cassia Biflora, Calliandra, 48 Hr.
Eurphobia, Lantana, Larkspur 40-44 0C, 24 Hr
Ixora, Mussaenda 45-49 0C, 24 Hr