Organic Farming :: Organic Farming Practices

Organic cultivation of Carnation

The carnation is the second most popular flower in the world today, the first one being the Rose. Carnation has the fragrance of clove and blooms in a variety of colours such as yellow, red, pink, purple, red, maroon, scarlet orange, lavender, cherry, apricot and white. American crimson varieties were cultivated on a commercial scale for the cut flower purpose.


Some beautiful and popular cultivars used for commercial cultivation are
Standard types: Master, Rivera, Super Star, Killer, White Giant, Malaga, Delphi and Solar
Spray types: Alistar, Darling, Happiness, Cherry Bag, Virgo, Close Up, Indira, Vera and Kiss Siga


Selection of site plays a major role in the success of carnation industry. Since roots of carnation are highly susceptible to poor drainage conditions, it needs well drained and aerated soil. The growth of roots in heavy soil is very much restricted and is reflected upon the growth of plants and quality of flowers. A rich sandy loam or loamy sand soil is considered to be the most ideal of successful production of carnation. Soils with higher amount of clay or silt should be amended by incorporating organic matter or compost. When the cultivars are grown at the same site for more than one year, it is necessary to incorporate adequate organic matter. The ideal soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.0. Both higher and lower pH have been found to show adverse effects on flower quality.


Carnation requires ample sunshine. The best plant growth is obtained in locations of high light intensity during the winter and cool temperatures during summer. However, direct sunlight may cause sunburn and affect the quality of flower. Since the stems of carnation plants are stiff and can break easily, the site should also be protected from strong winds. The optimum temperature varies with the available light intensity. During summer, the optimum temperature for obtaining good growth and flowers is between 13.2°C and 14.3°C while during winter a relatively lower temperature (10.0°C to 11.1°C) is recommended. On the other hand, hot dry wind during summer months is very detrimental for the growth and development of plants.


Selection of cultivars

There are several cultivars with different shades of colours available now for production. These cultivars differ significantly in terms of productivity and flower quality. Selection of cultivars determines the success in the production and marketing of carnation crop and it should be made according to the market preference, colour and suitability of cultivars in different agroclimatic conditions. Although, in most of the Indian markets there is no special preference for any colour, but red, pink and white flowered types are preferred to others in the international markets. However, with the introduction of colour tinting technique in the trade, the trend is changed with growers producing nearly 50 per cent white, 45 per cent red and pink cultivars and remaining 5 per cent novelties.

Green house

Most of the perpetual – flowering carnations are commercially grown under protection. They require sufficient amount of light and proper ventilation and therefore, the design and orientation of the green houses are of paramount importance. The structure of the house should not be too clumsy if built of timber and the rafters should be spaced at a proper distance to carry a pane of glass about 45 cm wide.

Ventilation plays an important part at all times of the year and especially during warm summer weather in order to reduce temperature; it is necessary to fit the greenhouses with adequate number of ventilators. It should be equipped with heating and cooling systems that will maintain the required interior temperature. Evaporative cooling is now a standard method of lowering greenhouse temperatures during spring, summer and fall. Exhaust fans at ends or sides of the green house pull air into the greenhouse through moist excelsior pads on the opposite sides or ends. Evaporative moisture reduces the temperature of the air. The system is the most effective where the outdoor humidity is low.

Small farmers can construct low cost and medium cost green houses. The cost of construction for low cost green house is Rs. 20/sq.ft and for medium cost green house is Rs. 40/sq.ft. To construct a green house UV stabilized 200 gauge polythene sheets should be used. Now a days UV stabilized, sulphur resistant yellow polythene sheets are also used for construction.

Land Preparation

Land should be ploughed at 45 cm depth for 4 to 5 times.

Formation of beds

Beds of 80 cm breadth, 30 cm height and of convenient length can be made. In between 2 beds walking space of 40 cm should be allowed.

Preparation of soil

Ground beds, raised benches or pots may be used for growing carnation but in either case the drainage should be perfect. To create favourable growing conditions, good quantity of organic matter should be applied and mixed into the soil.


Carnation is propagated by cuttings. Rooted cuttings are prepared immediately after winter is over. After four weeks, the cuttings would have rooted and would be ready for planting in summer.


While planting it is important to have sufficient spacing. If the space is too much, then yield will be less and if over-populated, quality of flower will decrease. The recommended spacing is 15 x 15 cm. The cuttings must not be planted very deeply as this causes rotting.


Plants should grow straight without any lodging so that we can harvest good quality long stemmed flowers. Before planting first netting (7.5 x 7.5 cm) should be done with nylon threads at a height of 12 cm. Second netting (15 x 15 cm) should be done at a height of 24 cm. Third, fourth and fifth netting should be done at 36 cm, 50 cm and 65 cm respectively.


  • Green manuring with lupin 60 days before planting

  • Application of well decomposed farmyard manure @ 50t/ha and biodynamic compost @ 5 t/ha

  • Application of Neem cake @ 1.25 t/ha

  • Application of Azospirillum and  Phosphobacterium @ 25 kg/ha

  • Application of vermicompost @ 5t/ha at the time of planting and 3,4, and 5 months after planting

  • Spraying of Neem oil 5 per cent at 3, 4 and 5 months after planting

  • Drenching of Neem oil 5 percent at 3, 4 and 5 months after planting

  • Spraying with Agni Hotra ash thrice at 60th, 90th and 120th day after planting

After cultivation

Hand weeding is done whenever necessary.

Growth regulators

Application of the following growth regulators increases the yield and quality of the cut flowers

  • Foliar spraying of panchagavya @ 3 per cent at 10 days interval from 1st month after planting comprising 35 sprayings/year

  • Soil drenching with dasagavya 3 per cent solution @ 1 lit/m2 once in a month

  • Foliar spraying of vermiwash @ 10 per cent at 3,4,5,6,7 and 8 months after planting

  • Spraying of horn silica at 75 days after planting @ 2.5g/ha

  • Drenching with Manchurian tea 5% filtrate at 30th, 45th, 60th, 75th and 90th day after planting

Pinching and disbudding

Another important feature in carnation production is pinching and disbudding. When the plants are 70 to 90 days old and are 20 to 25 cm high, the buds have to be pinched. The buds are pinched leaving five to six pairs of leaves. The axillary buds on the side shoots should be pinched. Pinching produces more side shoots and thereby more flowers are produced with better quality. The weak shoots must be removed leaving only three to six branches. Removing all the side buds and leaving only one main bud increases the quality and size of the flower.


Rooted cuttings need watering immediately after planting. Overhead sprinkling or mist system has been found to be superior to soil surface irrigation in providing necessary conditions for rapid establishment of cuttings. When sprinkler system is used, water may be applied few times a day until and cutting get established. In the later stages of growth, both overhead sprinkler or soil surface irrigation can be used, the former being more effective as well as economical. The overhead system, if employed should be discontinued when the flower buds appear and replaced by soil surface irrigation system.

Calyx banding

Calyx splitting is a serious malady affecting the quality of flowers in carnation. The problem of calyx splitting can be reduced by placing a band around the calyx of the flower bud when they have just started opening. In recent years a 6 mm wide clear plastic tape is used instead of rubber bands. Unlike bands, these plastic tapes can be left in place even after harvest. Care should be taken not to put bands when the buds are too small otherwise it will result in misshaped flower buds. These bands should be placed at a point about the half way on the calyx or where the diameter of the bud is the largest.

Plant protection

  Control measures
White flies : Yellow colour plastic pots coated with castor oil can be used to trap white flies
Aphids : Foliar spray of 10% nettle leaf extract
Sucking pests : Foliar spray of 10 % Garlic- chilli extract
Cut worms : Application of pyrethrum bait in soil
Diseases   Control measures
Leaf spot : Foliar spray of 5% Manchurian tea filtrate at 2, 3 and 5 months after planting
Blight : Spraying Agni Hotra ash (200 g Agni Hotra ash soaked in 1 liter cow urine for 15 days and diluted in 10 litres of water before spraying) 3 times at one month interval from one month after planting
Soil borne diseases :
Aplication of Trichoderma viride @ 5kg/ha or Application of Pseudomonas fluorescens @ 5 kg/ha


Flowering starts after five months of planting. The bud size and petal growth are generally used to judge the stage of harvesting. The flowers of standard carnation are cut when outer petals have unfolded nearly perpendicular to stem or at paint brush stage. Spray carnations are cut, when 2-3 upper flowers in the inflorescence are open and remaining buds are showing colour. As soon as flowers are harvested, keep them in water. Flowers should be harvested with a sharp knife. Three to four harvests can be done in a week. The crop can be kept in the field for a period of one and half years.

Yield: 8 stalks/plant/year


Just after harvesting, the flowers must be graded and bunched properly. Various standardized grades based on stem length, flower diameter and physical condition of flower like stem sturdiness, free from diseases and insects, sleepiness stem cracks, slabside, bull head and calyx splitting should be considered while grading carnations. Grading in India is adopted as per the guidelines of the Society of American Florists. Each grade is bunched in a lot of 25 stems.

Packaging and transportation

Carnations are packed in corrugated cardboard boxes. About 800 carnations are packed in a standard-sized carton (122 cm x 50 cm x 30 cm). The boxes should be well insulated. Bunches of 25 flowers are then packed in these boxes with one half of the total number of bundles oriented on each end of the container. Newspaper layers are placed between the layers to maintain high humidity and then when the container is filled, an insulated layer of paper is put across the box to cover the flowers completely.

Transportation should be done in a refrigerated van at 2°C - 4°C temperature to maintain the cool chain up to cargo. However, so far local markets it should be done by trains, buses and trucks during night hours.


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