Introduction to Anthurium Cultivation in Greenhouse Project Report:
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Anthurium is a large genus of flowering plants belonging to the arum family. Anthurium is most commonly referred to as tail flower, flamingo flower and lace leaf. This genus of plant is expected to have more than 600-800 species of flowering varieties. This plant is considered to be a native of America distributed widely from northern Mexico to northern Argentina and in some parts of the Caribbean. The plant is grown as an ornamental plant and is famous for its capacity to remove formaldehyde, xylene and ammonia from the household air. Of late, this flower is being used as a cut flower on account of its beauty. The plant is evergreen in nature and has two economically important species attractive for their long lasting inflorescence; they are Anthurium Andreanum and Anthurium Scherzerianum.
In India, Anthurium cultivation has recently gained importance in the Western Ghats and in the North Eastern region. Coffee planters in Karnataka and Kerala region have started Anthurium cultivation as a hobby, but now they are growing these flowers on a commercial scale. The production of this flower ranks 11 among tropical cut flowers. Anthurium cultivation can be undertaken in the open farm, but a greenhouse or protected environment is exclusively preferred so as to obtain better growth of the plants and high yield.
This project report outlines the methods of cultivating the Anthurium flowers in a greenhouse setup and at the end discusses about the total investment required for the project along with the profit associated with it.
Anthurium Plant and its properties
The plants flower all the year round and are considered to be perennial in nature. The Anthurium plant has short stems of length 15-30 cm approximately. The maximum height of the plant is estimated to be around 3 ft or 0.9 cm. The leaves of the plant are simple and have many shapes; they are generally found at the end of the stem. They could be erected or could be spreading in the form of a rosette with a probable length of each leaf being 40 cm. The leaves of the plant in dry environment form in the shape of a bird’s nest. These Anthurium leaves are petiolate in nature. Different species of Anthurium have different shapes of leaves; some plants grow as vines, with lanceolate leaves and some have multiple lobed leaves. The colour of the leaves is either dark green or even black in some species.
The flower of the plant is tiny and slender with a finger like spadix protruding out of a shiny, waxy, colourful heart shaped spathe. The plant is believed to an epiphyte, but can be grown in loose rock, bark and fibre soil mixtures.
A special feature of the plant is that they contain calcium oxalate crystals that make the plant poisonous; this can cause severe mouth irritation and swelling if ingested.
There are many varieties of Anthurium available around the world and are differentiated on the basis of colour such as red (temptation, tropical red, red dragon, Verdun red, flame, Mauritius red); orange (peach, casino, nitta); white (lima, manoa mist, acropolis, Linda de mol); pink (abe pink, candy stripe, passion); green (midori, esmaralda); bicoloured (Titicaca, jewel, akapana, cardinal) and purple (renappa, jurie red, new wane) etc. The varieties suitable for growing the western ghat region are Lima white, Agnihotri, Liver red, Can can, Tropical, Nitta, Sunburst, Linda-de-mol, Tinora, Acropolis, Gino Orange, hawai orange, vesuvious red, rosata, senator, dragon tongue, mia and Midori.
Propagation Techniques of Anthurium
The traditional way of propagation is through vegetative method using stem cuttings. For monopodial plants, one or two healthy aerial roots are selected as planting material, but sometimes basal cuttings of 30 cm length with few roots are also considered good for propagation. Similarly, for sympodial plants propagation is carried out by the pseudo bulbs. The planting material should have 2 or three pseudo bulbs with basal root.
Seeds take too much time for flowering i.e. about 2-5 years, depending on the genus of the plant and should be propagated under aseptic conditions.
Plugs can be used as planting material by growing two micro-cuttings in a glue plug until the plant reaches a height of 6 to 8 cm. These plugs are initially grown in a pot of size 7-9 cm.
Greenhouse structure to grow Anthuriums
The greenhouse should always have a foot dip at the entrance where KMnO₄ s added to the water so that hygiene within the greenhouse can be maintained. The cladding material and shade cover used for the greenhouse structure should be changed every 3 years. To maintain the humidity and temperature of the greenhouse, the doors are always kept closed. The minimum temperature and humidity of the greenhouse should be maintained around 20-28˚C and 60-80% respectively. Foggers are used within the greenhouse to maintain required humidity levels, whereas shade nets provide protection to the plants from excess sunlight and control the temperature of the region.
Anthurium growing medium requirements
The Anthurium plants need a well aerated, the rich organic medium having high water retention capacity for proper and healthy growth. Areas used for commercial cultivation should have proper drainage facilities around the farm. Some important properties of the soil/ growing medium for Anthurium cultivation either in the pots or on the ground are:
- Water retention capability
- Low salt concentration
- Properly anchor the plants
- Minimum pH of 5
- Fine structure and texture.
The growing could possibly be 1: 1 mixture of leaf mould and coco peat with a PH of 5.5 to 6.5. Other than that, the growing medium is also made with old and chopped coconut husk mixed with brick pieces and charcoal. This mixture is filled in narrow trenches above and below the ground level. When the coconut husk is being used as a growing medium it should be properly washed and treated with recommended fungicides and pesticides like chloropyriphos @1. 5 ml/liter of water and carbendazim @ 1 g/liter of water. The husk or growing medium should be dipped in the solution of the above mentioned chemicals for about 1 minute before using them in the bed preparation.
Climatic conditions for growing Anthurium flowers
Anthurium is considered to be a tropical plant and is believed to flourish under humid and moderate climatic conditions. The optimum temperatures required for growing these plants are: day (24-30˚C), night (15-22˚C). Any variation in temperatures such as below 15˚C or above 35˚C should be avoided in the greenhouse area. The minimum relative humidity of the farm set up should be around 60-80%. These plants require light and shade for proper flower production. Generally in the tropical environment the plant need 75% shade, which is provided using two shade nets: one that is fixed provides 60% shade and the other is movable and provides 25% shade (exclusively used during the dry season)
Soil bed preparation and planting for Anthuriums
Depending on the length of the polyhouse, longitudinal beds of 0.9 to 1.1 m width are prepared. The length of the beds is chosen accordingly, but care should be taken such that the length of the beds doesn’t exceed 30 m. The spacing between two beds should be at least 30-45 cm for carrying out easy cultural operations and harvesting. The beds in the greenhouse area should have a slight slope so as to facilitate proper drainage of excess water. Perforated pipes are maintained at the bottom of each bed for water drainage. The substrate used in the farm is separated from the ground using plastic. Wooden pegs are placed at 2 ft intervals beside the beds and are joined together with plastic sheet and GI wire to keep the beds intact.
The general way of planting is 4:3 in 1.1 m bed and 3:2 in 0.9 m bed. The minimum row spacing is maintained at 30 cm and the minimum plant spacing is maintained at 45 cm. The plants are planted diagonally and coconut shells are used to support the plants. The planting should be neither be too deep or shallow and roots of the plants should be properly handled. To achieve a planting density of 4400 plants in a 560 square metre of greenhouse area, the spacing between the plants should be around 45 x 30 cm. During the early stages of plant growth, the top shade nets should be completely covered to avoid extreme light intensity. The plants are supplied with increased light intensity after about one month of planting when it starts rooting.
Plants within the greenhouse are irrigated through sprinkler irrigation. Two sprinkler irrigation lines are arranged for each bed such that water is evenly distributed to all the plants. Plants need water twice in the summer season and may be once during the rainy season depending on the dryness in the region. To maintain proper humidity levels, water is sprinkled in between the beds.
The plants are fertigated twice daily and each bed is estimated to require 5 l/m² of Fertigation water. The pH and EC of the Fertigation water should be around 5.7-6.2 and 1.2-1.3 respectively. There are two tanks maintained with two different fertilizer solutions with concentration 100 times in 50 liters of water. The quantities required for making a standard fertilizer solution for the plants are as follows:
- Tank A (calcium nitrate (15: 5: 0) @ 1.62 kg, ammonium nitrate @ 400 g, potassium nitrate (13: 0:45) @ 700 g and 3% iron chelate @ 140 g per 50 liters of water).
- Tank B (potassium nitrate (13: 0:45) @ 550 g, mono potassium phosphate (0:52:34) @ 680 g, potassium sulphate (0: 0: 50)
- @ 360 g, magnesium sulphate @ 1.12 kg, borax @ 10 g, zinc sulphate @ 4.3 g, copper sulphate @ 0.56 g and sodium molybdate @ 0.56 g).
The above solutions are diluted to 100 times in another tank C of good quality of water and then supplied to the plants.
Pest and disease control methods in Anthuriums cultivation
The most common pests found in the Anthurium plants are spider mites, caterpillars, thrips, snails, etc. these can be controlled by spraying, recommended pesticides or insecticides like a kitten, laminate, vertimec and metaldehyde in required proportions.
Commonly found diseases of these plants are bacterial blight, leaf spot, anthracnose and root rot. It is always advisible to prevent the diseases from occurrence rather than treating them after their occurrence. Removing and destroying the diseased parts or plants is considered a good practice, but severely infected plants can also be treated with streptomycin and aliette in recommended doses.
Physiological disorders of Anthurium
Abortion of the flower on the spadix, stunted growth of the spathe, short size of the stem are some genetically occurring disorders in Anthurium plants, but efforts can be made to prevent them by lowering the root pressure, increasing the plant activity, maintaining proper temperature, cooling, humidity and ventilation in the greenhouse. By reducing the irrigation and increasing the level of the EC of the growing medium, root pressure can be controlled. Other physical disorders noticed in the plants are cracks (occurs due to higher relative humidity), folded ears (depends on the variety; no exact reason is known), sticking (reducing humidity is the solution to this problem) and jamming (leaves wound around the flower; moist growing medium can prevent the problem).
Cultural practices of Anthurium
Proper maintenance of the farm is necessary to keep the environment healthy and help the plants grow properly and produce optimum yield. Constant observation and management within the farm such as pruning the leaves, removing the suckers and adding coconut husk etc. can boost the productivity of the greenhouse.
Only a certain number of leaves have to be maintained on the plants to facilitate more flower production and therefore the older leaves have to be removed. If there are too many plants in a square meter of area, then more number of leaves have to be removed. As a general rule, only 5 to 6 healthy leaves per plant have to be retained at any point of time.
The Anthurium plants are expected to produce small suckers at the base of the plant which make the area crowded and do not leave enough space for the original parent plant to flourish, therefore these suckers are removed at an early stage.
As the plants grow, the roots become visible on the surface of the substrate or growing medium and then it becomes important to cover the roots with additional coconut husk for further growth of the plant. Maintaining the medium properly is an essential factor for plant growth and flower production.
Weed management is a common activity while farming and should be done regularly. While Anthurium cultivation, chemical weedicides are not recommended because some chemicals are phytotoxic to the plants. Maintaining low light intensity during the plant growth period can cause some algae on the leaf laminae and obstruct the photosynthesis process in the plants. Observing the condition and increasing the light intensity will solve the problem.
Some plant species have long slender stems, such structure need support. A simple way to support the Anthurium plants is to tie them to a thin stake or a split bamboo piece placed at the center of the pot or container. Care should be taken not to tie the plants very tightly to the stick.
Harvesting and yield of Anthurium
The flowers are ready for harvest when the spathe completely unfurls and the spadix is completely developed. When the flowers mature to one-third level on the spadix, there is a change of colour in the flowers that can be observed from the base of the spadix to the tip and this is the best time to harvest the flowers. Generally harvesting can be done after 3-6 months of planting. It is estimated that the average yield of the Anthurium plants is 5-7 flowers per plant in one year for the initial two years and after that the yield increases to 10-12 flowers per plant in one year. Harvesting is done using a sharp knife such that 3 cm of the stem is left on the mother plant to prevent basal rot. The flowers should be immediately put in water after harvest.
Post harvest management of Anthurium
Anthurium flowers are very sensitive to low temperatures and when stored below 13˚C, the colour of the spathe darkens. Ideally the flowers should be stored in water at 13˚C for about 3 to 5 weeks.
The Anthurium plants are supplied with 100 ppm of silver nitrate for 45 minutes to support the process of pulsing to help maintain the uptake of water and respiration in the flowers before transportation. Placing a piece of cotton soaked in water at the base of the stem can also protect the flowers from drying during transport. To improve the vase life of the flowers up to 8 hours, pulsing is done with the solution for 10 minutes.
The size of the spathe determines the quality of the flowers and is the main factor in grading the flowers. The minimum size of the spathe should be 3-9 cm and the length of the stem should be at least 30 cm. The grading of flowers is done by estimating the spathe size such as length plus half of the width. The different categories of flower grades are peewee, miniature, small, large, extra large and premium.
The flowers are packed in corrugated cardboard boxes that are lined with polythene sheets and newspapers. A box of dimensions 102 x 43 x 29 cm can be used for packing 120 flowers such that the spathe face is placed down and the stems are interwoven. Each flower is covered with a polythene envelop to avoid mechanical damage. The flowers are cleaned to remove dust or any other chemicals from their surface before packing.
Cost and profit analysis of Anthurium Cultivation in Greenhouse
Economics of Anthurium Cultivation In Greenhouse
The estimation is being made for a small greenhouse area of about one-fourth of an acre (1000 sq m approx.). The figures could vary a little from the original, so it is advised to take this report as a reference only. During the original deployment of the project, it is recommended to enquire the local Horticulture Board for exact details and support.
|Material for farm infrastructure||Investment in Rs|
|Construction of a greenhouse as per the NHB guidelines for an area of 1000 sq m @ Rs 750 per sq m. (Sometimes this includes the drip irrigation system).||7,50,000.00|
|Cost of bed preparation @ Rs 250 per sq m. ( Includes the cost of substrate and other accessories)||2,50,000.00|
|The cost of the shade net @ 25 per sq m||25,000.00|
|12 plants per sq m. @ Rs 100 per plant (planting material)||15,00,000.00|
|Total fixed investment||25,25,000.00|
|Farming materials and other||Investment in Rs|
|Annual water requirement||30,000.00|
|Fertilizers for Fertigation technique (water soluble)||40,000.00|
|Labour charges @ Rs 300 per day (2 labourers)||1,65,000.00|
|Plant protection chemicals||20,000.00|
|Cost of packaging material, polythene covers, transport etc.||90,000.00|
|Other miscellaneous charges||2,50,000.00|
|Total variable investment||6,25,000.00|
Yield obtained from Anthurium plants in year 1: 3 flowers/plant.
Average price of the flower: Rs 15.
So Income generated in Year 1: (total plants x flowers per plant x price per flower)
(12000 x 3 x 15) = Rs 5, 40,000.
Yield of flowers from the plant in 2-5 years: 6 flowers per plant.
Income generated in 2-5 years of planting: Rs 10, 80,000.
So it can be clearly noticed that profits start coming in during the second year of planting.
Profit from the farm in 2-5 years, approximately is: (total income during 2-5 years – total variable investment) = (Rs 10, 80,000 – Rs 6, 25,000) = Rs 4, 55,000.
Loans and subsidies for Anthurium Cultivation In Greenhouse
The National Horticulture Board has clearly outlined subsidy schemes for polyhouse/greenhouse farming. It is advisible to contact the concerned authority for the processing of the Anthurium cultivation project. More information on the exact amount of subsidies can be found on the NHB website. The schemes may vary for different regions, so it is important to know the scheme details of that particular region before proceeding with the actual project.