Have you ever wondered where the roses you get your special someone for Valentine’s Day grown? The same question can be asked for that bouquet of flowers we all rush to buy for our mothers on Mother’s Day. The answer is simple – floriculture.
But what exactly is floriculture? Maybe you’ve heard it somewhere but don’t know what that means and might think that it’s just another fancy word for gardening, but as it turns out, it’s more complex than that.
Floriculture is a special segment of horticulture which focuses on the production of flowering and foliage plants for decorative use. The flowers are usually grown in greenhouses which are basically just giant gardens that store a large number of plants for mass production.
It includes cultivation of plants and flowers which are used for the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and perfume industry, and also for decorative and aesthetic purposes such as bouquets and floral arrangements.
There are different types of crops which include:
- bedding plants
- herbaceous ornamental perennial plants
- potted plants
- foliage plants
- cut flowers
All of them are grown in a different way and for a different purpose and we will be examining each type of crop one by one.
Bedding plants are produced for seasonal display in flower beds and outdoor containers. Most are annual flowering plants but also include some foliage and vegetable plants.
These are the largest segment of the floriculture industry. But they have a short production and sales season. Productions run from January through June, and the sales from May and June for much of the markets.
Depending on the species of annual flowers some can be grown in spring, summer or fall, while others can flower during the entire season.
Examples of these plants include:
- Busy Lizzie (sassy little flower)
- Antirrhinum (that’s a mouthful)
Bedding plants also include some vegetables and hundreds of other species and it would be impossible to list them in such a short article, but you get the idea.
Herbaceous Ornamental Perennials
Perennials are non-woody plants that persist from year to year as parts of the original plants such as bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, crowns or they come back from the seeds.
Most of these crops are propagated in greenhouses and moved outside for the rest of the production cycle in order for them to be fully grown and ready for sale.
Whether or not a perennial survives depends on its hardiness. That means that they are sensitive to winter and can wither if exposed to harsh winter climates and low temperatures.
Some examples of herbaceous perennials are:
- Bleeding Hearts
Potted crops are mature flowering plants that are produced and sold in pots and containers. They are the second largest segment of floriculture right behind bedding plants.
They can be produced all year-round or seasonally depending on the environmental requirements of the plants or the season which they are associated with.
Also, they are more expensive than several other types of floricultural crops because of the time it takes for them to reach a mature stage of flowering and growth.
Potted crops are for instance:
- Mums ( I don’t know why they are called that but they are beautiful and as the name applies you can get them for your mom)
- Easter lilies
The list also includes some small trees and tree-forms of plants along with many more species.
Indoor foliage crops are plants grown for their leaves which have an interesting shape or are colorful and they are often of tropical or subtropical origin. It’s not a surprise that most of them are produced in warm and tropical climates.
However, some species can actually be grown all year-round in the landscape depending on cultivation and environmental predisposition.
In temperate climates, they are displayed in homes, offices, and interior escapes and atriums they can also be used for seasonal outdoor displays in temperate zones.
Some examples include:
- Philodendrons (the most classic office plant known to man)
- Devil’s Ivy (sounds scary but it’s actually harmless for humans)
- Wandering Jew Plant
Cut flowers are crops that are produced with all of the intentions of selling the flowers and are not the entire flower instead they are cut to fit a bouquet or other flower arrangements.
They can be used in several different ways including floral arrangements, croissants, and boutonnieres. Meaning they have a more formal use and can be seen used in weeding, birthdays, funerals and other more formal events.
Roses, for example, are considered to be a perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. As we mentioned, I think that your partner deserves flowers all year-round, from time to time, and not just on special occasions. So, you can go out of your way and get your significant other a bouquet of roses just as a surprise.
Apart from roses, cut flower crops also include:
- Baby’s Breath (I sure hope they don’t smell that way)
The Problems of Floriculture
Floriculture is an important part of horticulture mainly because it not only produces beautiful plants for humans to enjoy but also is an important way of income of countries and regions where the flowers are produced.
Apart from the flowers which can be grown in any region, there are many flowers which can only be produced in certain climates and then shipped to flower shops worldwide.
But the problem is that flowers can die quickly if the shipping takes too long and also the climate change which occurs while they are transported, and one way of solving this is to cultivate some species for domestic growth.
This is not an easy task to do and that’s where the botanical specialists and floriculturists come into place by doing research on specific flowers and determining which conditions are required in order for them to grow.
Another important problem which occurs in floriculture is the opposite of the previous one and by that, I mean that local people of the regions where, for example, tropical flowers are grown, make a living from producing and shipping them to other parts of the world.
By cultivating flowers for domestic growth, floricultural industries are taking away a large portion of the profit of those local people. This is a zero-sum game, unfortunately.
1. What’s the difference between horticulture and floriculture?
Basically, horticulture deals with the scientific analysis related to the cultivation of garden and ornamental plants and floriculture deals with more detailed principles of growing and marketing flowers and foliage plants.
Both are linked to plant growth but the main difference is that horticulture is more oriented towards the overall scientific study of cultivation while floriculture is oriented towards the production of flowers for different purposes and occasions.
2. How does floriculture impact the economy?
Greenhouses are not cheap and floriculture does consume a lot of funds in order for the flowers to be produced and sold, but what is great about flower farming is that the seeds of the flowers can be used to produce even more flowers.
And also special flower arrangements cost a lot of money so in the end the market is balanced by supply and demand, leaving the owners of floricultural industries a lot of money to improve their greenhouses and protect the plants from factors like drought and hailstorms, and you with a nice bouquet of flowers.
3. Are floriculturists gardeners?
It seems like a silly question to ask but actually, it’s not because not all people who work in the floricultural industry are gardeners. The industry includes a large number of actual scientists and botanical specialists which conduct research on the plants that are grown.
Floriculturist should not me mixed-up with ordinary gardeners or flower shop owners because their job is a lot more time consuming and takes a lot of knowledge and experience in order to provide the consumers the best plants on the market.
To summarize everything that we’ve talked today about floriculture, it’s a huge industry which produces and sells plants for many different purposes and has a positive effect not only on the economy but also making our homes, offices and special occasions much more beautiful.
It is a much more complex industry than someone would assume, and maybe one day one of the readers of this article will be inspired to become a floriculturist as it is a much rewarding job which appeals to people who like gardening and are keen on botany.