Floriculture is simply defined as the production and management of ornamental plants such as trees, shrubs and flowers. In other words, floriculture involves the growth, care, uses and marketing of some flowering plants, trees and shrubs. Beautiful trees or flowering plants which can be used to decorate our environments are called ornamental plants. Ornamental plants could be trees, shrubs or flowers.
The person who grows and sells flowers is called a florist.
IMPORTANCE/USES/BENEFITS OF ORNAMENTAL PLANTS
Ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers are very important in a number of ways. These include:
- Sources of Employment or Income: Ornamental plants and flowers provide employment or income to horticulturists or florists.
- Expression of Love: Flowers are used for the expression of love and as gifts on special occasions.
- For Decoration: Shade loving ornamentals can be used for decoration in porches, verandahs and halls.
- For Fencing: Densely branched ornamental shrubs can be used for fencing.
- For visual screening: Some ornamental plants are used for visual screening or concealing views, to provide privacy.
- Sources of compost materials: Pruning and clipping from hedges can be used as compost materials or mulch.
- For medicinal preparations: Some ornamental plants have medicinal value and are used in herbal preparation.
- Sources of food: Some ornamental trees have edible fruits for human consumption.
- Nitrogen fixation: Some leguminous ornamental plants do assist in the fixing of atmospheric nitrogen into the soil by bacteria in their root nodules.
- Improvement of Soil Fertility: Decay of the leaves of ornamental plants improves soil fertility.
- Purification of the Environment: Ornamental plants including other plants help to purify the environment or atmospheric air by removing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
- For teaching and learning purposes: Some ornamental plants are used for teaching and learning purposes.
- Provision of shade: Some flowering plants have large and broad leaves which are capable of providing shade in residential, industrial or commercial environment.
- Reduction of Noise: Some ornamental plants help to absorb and reflect sound waves to reduce noise from hooting horns of vehicles.
- Prevention of Accidents: Some ornamental plants do help to reduce light blurs on major roads to prevent accidents in the night.
- Serves as Windbreaks: Some ornamental plants do assist in serving as wind breaks.
- Pleasure and satisfaction: The beauty and fragrance of some ornamental plants give some people pleasure and satisfaction.
- Direction to Movement of People: Ornamental plants can be used to direct the movement of people through the planting of avenue trees in curves and hedges along path in school compounds, etc.
- Beautification of environment: Ornamental plants and flowers are used to beautify the environments such as residential areas and along the roads.
- Floral Designs: Flowers and leaves are used for floral design such as wreaths, bouquets and garlands.
- Preparation of Dyes: Some flowers are used in the preparation of dyes.
- Sources of Livestock Feed: Prunings from some ornamental plants may be used to feed animals.
- Serves as Tourist Centres: Well established ornamental gardens do serve as tourist attraction.
- Sources of Revenue to Government: Some ornamental plants or their activity serves as source of revenue to government through taxation.
COMMON SPECIES OF ORNAMENTAL TREES, SHRUBS AND FLOWERS
Some common species of ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers include:
- Frangi pani.
- Neem cassia.
- Royal palm.
- Flame of the forest.
- Indian Almond.
- Wild rose.
- Dutchman’s pipe.
- Cana lily.
- Morning glory.
- Water lettuce.
- Sun flower.
- Passion flower.
CULTIVATION OF ORNAMENTAL TREES AND FLOWERS
Ornamental trees and flowers are better cultivated through a number of cultural practices in order to enhance good production and high quality of flowers. The cultivation of ornamental flowers includes:
1) Choice of Site: The site should be well drained and easily accessible to the florists and customers. Water should easily be available for watering of flowers.
2) Planting Materials: Planting materials include seeds, vegetative propagation through cut stems, roots, leaves (e.g Bryophylum) and stolons.
3) Methods of Cultivation: Ornamental trees and flowers can be grown through any of the following methods:
- Use of Prepared Beds: This serves as nursery beds where the young seedlings of flowers are raised.
- Direct sowing to Soil: Seeds or stem-cuttings can be sown directly into soil where they sprout to become flowers.
- Use of Nylon Bags: Seeds or stem-cuttings can be sown directly into nylon bags containing soil from where they can grow up before transplanting.
- Use of Pots: Seeds or stem-cuttings can also be sown directly into clay pots, containing loamy soil from which flowers can grow.
4) Provision of Shade: Shade should be provided for the seedlings to protect them against excessive rainfall and heat of the sun.
5) Use of Loamy soil/Organic Manure: Soils in which seeds or stem-cuttings are to be planted should be loamy soil because it is very fertile. Some organic manure, e.g ., farmyard manure can be added to the soil to improve its fertility.
6) Regular Watering: Flowers should be watered at least twice a day – morning and evening.
7) Regular Weeding: The florist should ensure that unwanted plants (weeds) are removed so as to provide nutrients, space, light, etc for the normal growth of ornamental trees and flowers without competition.
SOURCES OF PLANTING MATERIALS
Sources of planting materials like seeds, cut stems, leaves and stolons or rhizomes, include:
- established private horticultural gardens;
- higher institutions’ botanical gardens;
- government-owned horticultural centres;
- private houses and offices;
- imported ornamental trees and flowers;
- resort or recreational centres.
Maintenance of Horticultural Plants/ Flowers
- Provision of Shade: Shade should be provided for the seedlings to protect them against excessive rainfall and heat of the sun.
- Regular Watering: Horticultural plants and flowers should be watered at least twice a day – early in the morning and late in the evening.
- Regular Weeding: The florist should ensure that unwanted plants (weeds) are removed so as to allow for adequate nutrients, space, light, etc for the normal growth of ornamental trees and flowers.
- Fertilizer Application: Fertilizers and manure can be applied to the soil to improve the soil fertility for the growth of ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers.
- Fencing: Ornamental plants should be protected from being eaten up by animals like cattle, sheep, goat, etc.
- Regular Pruning: Old leaves, stems and side branches should be pruned with either shears or secateurs.