The impact of low cost treatments in extending the vase life of cut anthurium (Anthurium andreanum) and orchid

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H.D.P.L.Hiriyadeniya, T. Somarathna1 and C.K.D. Wellala2

Department of Agricultural and Plantation Engineering,

The Open University of Sri Lanka,

Nawala, Nugegoda

Fruit Crops Research and Development Centre Kannanwila, Horana

Today floriculture in Sri Lanka is recognized as a profitable industry since it has higher potential per unit area than most of the field crops and it is mostly grown in the Western, Northwestern and Central provinces. Currently, Sri Lanka earns 28% of annual export income by exporting cut flowers to Japan, Netherlands, Canada and United Kingdom. The government of Sri Lanka has identified Anthurium as one of the priority crops for development and export promotion (Kelegama, 2001), and orchid widely used for floral arrangements. As flowers are viable and actively metabolize plant parts, they are subjected to ageing processes. There are many factors affecting vase life of cut flowers such as temperature, ethylene, humidity, light, maturity stage of cut flower, cleanliness of the vase solution etc. (Prasad et al., 2003). In the ageing process, ethylene is found to be the main quality-affecting factor on freshness of fruits and the vase life of cut flowers. To overcome senescence of flowers people use many post harvest practices. The decrease of ethylene production, increase the vase life of cut flowers (David et al., 1998). Addition of Citric acid, Aluminum sulfate, AgNO3, or similar chemicals to increase vase life of cut flowers could be more expensive and need well experienced technical staff. Such practices lead to increase in the cost of production. Also it causes environment pollution and negatively affects human health. Therefore, methods with low cost treatment in floral preservation are more economical and it is a requirement to assess its suitability. Therefore, this study was conducted with the objective of identifying the effective low cost treatment to lengthen the vase life of Anthurium and Orchid, while maintaining the flower quality.

The experiment was carried out to assess the effective treatment for longest shelf life for Anthurium (Tropical red, Coca-Cola red, Mirage white) and Orchids (White, Dark purple, Light purple). The experiment was conducted at the tissue culture laboratory of the district training center, Kannanwila, Horana, Sri Lanka, from July, 2010 to March, 2011. The mean day time temperature and relative humidity during the experiment were collected and they were 22 0C and 67 % respectively. Anthurium and Orchid flowers were harvested at different time intervals and collected and brought to the laboratory within 4hrs after harvesting. Stems of the flowers were kept immersed in water during transportation. The following treatments were used to observe the vase-life of respective flowers. Three flowers were immersed in approximately 200 ml of different treatment solutions in conical flasks.

T1-Stems dipped in distilled water – control

T2-Stems dipped in 25% GA3 solution continuously

T3-Stems dipped 10 min in 12 mg BAP solution and transferred to the distilled water.

T4-Stems dipped in coconut water +10 mg KMnO4 + 1 tea spoon Clorox continuously

T5-Stems dipped in coconut water and 2 tea spoon Clorox continuously.

T6-Stems dipped in 15 BAP solutions continuously.

T7-Stems dipped in 10mg KMnO4 solution continuously.
Flower stem ends were re-cut in water to have the same length. At the first experiment Anthurium flowers were dipped in treatment solutions non-parametric data were collected until flowers were at the end of their vase life. Parameters used to evaluate the quality of Anthurium flowers were spadix condition, spathe color, glossiness of the flower spathe and stem condition. Scores were given according to a pre-determinant scheme. Panels including 7 persons evaluated the quality of flowers daily using nonparametric observations. Vase life was determined by aggregate values obtained by all 4 conditions. Same was done for Orchid with parametric and non parametric data. Each variety has three different color varieties of each. Assuming colors of flower and treatments are directly related to the vase life of flower, experiment was subjected to two factor factorial design. The analyzed data reveal that the colors of the sub varieties are significantly different (0.05).Thus, CRD was carried separately and parametric data were subjected to an analysis of variance (ANOVA), and the mean differences were compared by least significant difference (LSD) test at probability level of P< 0.05.The nonparametric data were analyzed by using MINITAB statistical package (Minitab Inc.) using Freidman’s test among the means at P =0.05.

TAA, pH and TSS were measured in treatment solutions at the beginning and ending of the vase life in each replicates. Mean pH values were not changed significantly (P>0.05) throughout the experiments of all treatment solutions. Thus there were no correlation of TAA, pH and TSS of treatment solutions for extending the vase life.

Qualitative data of Anthurium were analyzed by using Minitab according to the above mentioned category. According to the analyzed data, as shown Table 1, treatment 4 showed better performances compared to other treatments, having scored the highest marks for all parameters.

In order to meet the requirements for export market of cut flowers, it is necessary to maintain their quality and improve the vase life, the time period which the flowers could retain their fresh appearance without loss of market value. In the present study, spathe bluening of flowers were observed in large patches 30-50% of the total area of spathe. The common course of vase life termination was the spathe bluing. Browning of spathe is the last. Bluing of spathe first started in sub variety Tropical red. Spathe bluing was observed prior to senescence of the spadix. None of the flowers showed any observable change during the first week in vases. A clear visual change in spathe color was observed first in treatment 2 after 7 days. After 12 days, changes in visual quality of flower were observed in control (Distilled water). After 17 days, treatment 4 started showing senescence in some flowers. The longest vase life for an individual flower recorded in the study was 25 days and that was in sub variety mirangi white while those treated with KMnO4+ coconut water + Clorox had an increase in vase life from 12 days compared with the control. Premawardane et al., 2000 reported wilting of spathe and reducing of the glossiness of spathe has occurred mainly with the evaporation of water by spadix and spathe. Variable effects have been reported on the vase life in different Anthurium cultivars with Benziladenine (BA) and the maximum vase life is up to 51 days was recorded with New Pahoa red variety (Pull et al., 2001). It was well defined that the vase life of an Anthurium cut flower depends on the variety and the treatment given to it (Pull et al., 2001). According to the result obtained from Anthurium flowers, treatment 4 (KMnO4 + coconut water + Clorox) gave better result than the control (Distilled water) in all three sub varieties. Treatments 5 and 3 were the second effective treatments. However Anthurium mirangi white showed the longest vase life and the lowest vase life was shown in sub variety Coca-Cola red.

Quantitative measurements of the flowers of Orchid sub varieties are illustrated in Table 2. The numbers of buds were counted daily and the lowest difference of buds considered as the best. According to the result, treatment 4 (Coconut water+ Clorox+ KMnO4) was identified as the best treatment and treatment 7 was better for Orchid white and Dark Purple varieties. The lowest difference of number of open flowers was considered as the best treatment. Treatment 4 (Coconut water + Clorox + KMnO4) was identified as the best treatment for sub varieties white and dark purple and treatment 7 (Continuously dip in KMnO4 solution) was identified as the best for sub variety light purple. The highest difference of total wilted flowers was considered as of the best treatment. Thus, it shows that the highest performance has been given by treatment 4.

Table 3 illustrates qualitative data of orchids in relation to the color, wilted flowers and freshness of flowers. Higher the ranks in the treatment better the result. After 5 days lots of flowers started to wilt and drop. Treatment 4 could be considered as the best and treatment 3 was the second best treatment. Treatment 1 (Distilled water) showed the lowest performances in relation to the wilting of flowers. According to results obtained in the non-parametric test, sub-variety dark purple showed the longest vase life for more than 32 days. Sub-variety white enhanced their vase life up to 30 days and sub-variety light purple increased their vase life up to 28 days. As it is, flowers obtained average of 6 marks treated with combination of KMnO4 + Coconut water + Clorox (T4) in all three sub varieties.

Table 4 illustrates the cost of treatment. The KMnO4 (T7) shows the least cost of treatment but the effect of treatment on vase life seems not accepted. Chemical costs per 200 ml of BAP for the tested concentration T3 and T6 is Rs. 0.05 – 0.07. However, they are not available in the market for the conventional farmers in Sri Lanka as GA3 (T2). Not like AgNO3 the cost for T4 and T5 is not much expensive but T4 affects comparatively high on vase life than T5. Chemical cost per 100mg AgNO3 is around Rs.875.00.


The results of this study clearly showed that the effective treatment for extending the vase life for Anthurium and orchid sub varieties is treatment 4, which is 10 mg of KMnO4, Coconut water and Clorox. It increases the vase life effectively than the control. Second effective treatments for Anthurium were treatments 3 which is 12 mg of BAP and treatment 5(Coconut water with Clorox). For orchid it is treatments 6 (15mg of BAP) and treatment 7 which is 10 mg of KMnO4. Cost analysis revealed that the treatment 4 is the, comparatively, lowest cost effective treatment for extending the vase life.

Kelegama, S. (2001). Economics analysis of interests’ policy options for Sri Lanka. pp.34-39. In: Agriculture and the new trade agenda in the WTO 2000 negotiations.
Prasad, S and Kumar, H. (2003). Commercial Horticulture.pp. 511-515, India.
Premawardana, et al (2000). Effects of selected post harvest treatments on vase life of cut flower Gladiolus grandiflorus. Tropical Agricultural Research. 12;325-333.
Singh, K.P., and Mandhar, S.C (2000). Performance of Gerbera (Gerbera jamasonii) cultivars under fan and pad cooled green house environments. J. Ornamental Horticulture New Series, 8(5): 154-161.
Yapa, et al (2000). Potential low cost treatments for extending the vase life of Anthurium (Anthurium andreanum Lind.) flowers. Tropical Agricultural Research.12:334-343.

1 Department of Agricultural and Plantation Engineering, The Open University Sri Lanka, Nawala, Nugegoda
2 Fruit Crops Research and Development Centre Kannanwila, Horana.


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