How far do you have to drive, to find a florist in any Indian city?

I want to start with asking you a question.
When was the last time you bought flowers for someone? I guess the most common answer would be never, it’s been a long time, don’t really remember, Valentine’s day or Mother’s day. Mostly in that order.
Gifting flowers is still not an in-thing in India – yet. We would rather spend hours on our phone, and do our research to find what should we gift our friends, family members or loved ones. More often than not, we would not consider flowers as a gift.

Businesses always try to meet the demands of the market. The Indian flower market is worth $230 million (INR 1600 Crores). Out of which Rs. 600 Crores accounts for the exports. And it is safe for us to assume that the domestic consumption of flowers in India is around Rs. 1000 Crores. But since most of the floral market is in the unorganised sector, we do not have enough data to prove this. Another data shows that the per capita consumption of flowers in India is much lower when compared to countries like Norway, which has to highest per capita consumption at $146, followed by Switzerland at $126 and Germany at $88.

Flowers have always been an integral part of Indian culture. But now, it is only limited to decors for grand celebrations like a wedding, parties and festivals. But people like you and me buying flowers for our personal use or gifting is a rare scene in Indian cities. Compare that to people living in developed countries likes the United States or Europe. And in countries like China, more than 90% per cent of the cut flowers produced are consumed within China. In India, we do not collect enough data to determine our flower consumption. Remember, this is a market that makes more than 1600 crores. And most of the trade happens in the unorganised sector.

Let’s look at major cities in India; New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai & Bengaluru and how many flower shops do we find when we drive across the streets of these metro cities? I’m sure everyone in India knows, “jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai” (People buy what they see). But, we don’t see much investment in this regard. we hardly see florists across our city streets. And if they are not there, we can’t blame Indians of not buying natural fresh flowers as gifts. Former Union Minister for Agriculture, Shri Sharad Pawar and Former Chief Minister of Delhi NCR, Smt. Sheila Dixit had voiced their opinion about setting up a state-of-the-art flower market in Delhi NCR with retail outlets. They had a vision to have quality flower shops across the city at important landmarks like, hospitals, Malls, Business Centres, Airports, etc. But it has been more than 10 years, but there is not required infrastructure set up for this cause. Former President of India, Shri. A.P.J. Abdul Kamal, in his speech while inaugurating the International Flora Expo 2006 in Delhi, had voiced his vision that floriculture should be a Billion dollar industry in India and should create a million jobs for Indians. Media Today, an organiser of Agro Exhibitions in India has been conducting International Flora Expo in India for a decade now, they bring the industry together and create a platform for people to network and grow their business opportunities. The next International Flora Expo will be held from 22nd – 24th February, 2019 in Pune.

In the end, I would like to close my argument by saying, that every one of us should make an attempt to go green and buy more and more natural product. And the government of the day should encourage small businesses to invest in horticulture, landscaping and floriculture so create favourable conditions for businesses like these flourish. 

Here’s a beautiful line to end with – She bought herself flowers for no darned good reason – except they were beautiful and she deserved more beauty in her life.

Why should you gift Natural flowers and potted plants instead of chocolates and other kind of sweets?

Every gift from a friend or a relative is a wish for your happiness. Similarly, when you give a gift to someone, it makes their day. Your gift, whatever it may be, makes them feel special. It is said that it is not the actual gift, but the thought that counts. And it may be true to some extent. Now, think about the last time you had to spend a few minutes in front of a computer or on your mobile phone to scan through hundreds of gift suggestions that showed up on your google search results. We always put in our thoughts and spend our time to decide the perfect gift for our friends and loved ones. Today, we would like to talk about those beautiful gifts that you received and the ones you have given to someone special.

We have been made to believe that chocolates the safest bet. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolates? Everyone does, right? The answer to that simple question is a big NO! Not everyone likes chocolates, candies or some other form of sweets. And definitely, you shouldn’t encourage this concept of gifting chocolates. So, what’s the alternative?

Traditionally, flowers are presented on occasions such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. In India, whenever you meet a Government official or high ranking officers, we always present them fresh flowers. When you’re not quite sure what to send a family member to congratulate him/her on a promotion, send flowers. When you need to bring a hostess gift but aren’t sure of the household tastes, stick with flowers. These are some of the most common perceptions we have. But, it’s time to change those perceptions about fresh flowers and potted plants.

The beauty of nature’s bounty brings comfort and warmth into an environment. Whether the flower recipient is celebrating an important day or celebrating an achievement, flowers boost morale and lift the moods of the parties. Flowers stand out among the many gifts and greetings. They last for days or weeks, reminding the recipient of your thoughtful consideration. Flowers aren’t as effective as acknowledging the emotional side of the event. Flowers are symbols of thoughtfulness, filling an emotional role in the scheme of the event. Sure, they are not permanent, as is not most of the gift that we send to our friends. But we should definitely switch to more eco-friendly gifts.

Fresh flowers and potted plants can be a perfect gift for any occasion even for men. There is another misconception that flowers can be only gifted to women. Flowers are an inexpensive way of bestowing your love and expressing emotions. And hence there is no such reason that flowers are solely reserved for women. When men send a woman flowers, it is to express their love and earnest emotions towards her, to brighten her day and make her smile. It is the thought that makes the difference! So, the next time you wish to surprise your special man or congratulate him, be it your Father, your brother, friend or lover, send him some flowers!

Here’s a cheat sheet with a kind of flowers that can be gifted to men.

  • Men prefer darker shades over pastel colours in bouquets.
  • Orchid’s bouquets white or purple, or Crimson Red Roses are often good flowers for guys.
  • You can also gift Anthurium bouquets a.k.a the Flamingo Flower, or Boy Flowers because of their distinctive shape and colour.
  • Birds of Paradise, also known as Crane flowers owing to their shape of a bird and striking colours, are a good choice for men as they have a strong appearance.
  • Bamboo plants are known to bring good fortune also form a nice present for men.

Finally, we would like to leave you with some important takeaways.

  • Flowers and potted plants are a beautiful, inexpensive and thoughtful gift for both men and women.
  • A bouquet of Colourful fresh flowers can be gifted to your brother/sister or a close friend, relative or your office colleague.
  • Chocolates and other sweets are unhealthy gifts, switch to eco-friendly gifts for your loved ones.

Flowers are a forever charm and therefore, there isn’t a need for a special occasion to gift flowers, but if you are really looking for a specific occasion then here are some: Anniversary, Birthdays, Achievements, Apologies, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Rakshabandhan or just as a reminder that you miss someone or care about them, send them flowers!

REAL vs. ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS

The Wedding is one of the most memorable days in anyone’s life. And one of the most important elements of any wedding is flowers. They are an integral part of the wedding decor. No one can imagine a wedding without flowers. Wedding flowers will be noticed and remembered by guests for years to come. Many bridal families look for an alternative to fresh flowers and opt for artificial or silk wedding flowers. Indian floral market is full of high-quality versions of silk flowers that look incredibly real. It completely relies on the personal choice of the bride, the bride’s family, and friends if they want to go for real fresh flowers or the fake ones.Most families have a common query “can we use artificial flowers in place of the real ones?” The answer from the event planners are very obvious; “yes” you can definitely use silk or artificial flowers in place of fresh ones for many reasons. There are numbers of reasons to select artificial wedding flowers over real fresh flowers. The most basic reason is durability as they don’t wilt and go for days without any dullness. It’s difficult to decide fake or real flower from a distant place so people choose as per their preferences and needs. In most cases, real fresh flowers are used up till 6 feet, and beyond that are all plastics flowers, mostly imported from China. Some reasons why plastic flowers are chosen, replacing fresh flowers in Indian wedding is the budget. Another factor is the availability of fresh flower as per the theme of the wedding.

PROS and CONS of fresh and fake wedding flowers:

Real wedding flowers appear much more attractive than the silk flowers. They are unique and authentic in looks and delicate to touch.

Let’s first look at the pros and cons of Real flowers.

PROS:

  • Well, real is real. There is no doubt what so ever, that nothing can be better than real fresh flowers as part of the wedding decor.
  • Real flowers are eco-friendly.
  • Most people think that real flowers are expensive. Well, that’s not true. Most of the times, it’s the arrangement that is expensive than the flower itself.
  • When you’re using real flowers in your wedding, they are picked just for you. Unlike the fake ones which are reused.

CONS:

  • The artificial flowers are comparatively lighter in weight.
  • The price of real flowers completely relies on the season.
  • Real Flowers are expensive during offseason.
  • Availability of flowers in a specific colour and size.

PROS and CONS of artificial/fake flowers:

PROS:

  • Cost effective.
  • Available in desired colour size and quality.
  • Can be used at multiple events
  • Available around the year (non-seasonal)

CONS:

  • Although artificial flowers may last longer than real flowers, they miss the beauty of the real ones.
  • Most artificial flowers simply don’t look real. Even from a distance, the fakeness of them is clear and that takes away from their attractiveness.
  • Since fake flowers are used at multiple events, dust that can collect on them over time and make them look even worse!
  • And most importantly, fake flowers send a wrong message.

One of the main reasons people choose fake/plastic flowers over real flowers is that they are cheap. They see fake flowers as being more cost-effective because they last longer and because they cost less. But the family, the bride and the groom do really spend a fortune for their wedding. And what they end up with is plastic flowers which were used for someone else’s wedding a week ago. And who is profiting in this deal? Unfortunately, that’s the worst message to be sending if you’re giving flowers as a gift. No one ever says, “I love you so much that I decided to find the least expensive present possible.” Or, at least, they shouldn’t say that.

When you talk about the cost, the difference between artificial and real flowers, then there may not be a huge gap. The costing directly depends on the arrangement of the flower. If the flowers are arranged by you, it will be cheaper but you will surely compromise in presentation, it’s best to go for a professional arrangement, but it will be costly. Always remember, it’s not only and always the flower you are investing in, but the professional expertise in arranging them.  Many of the experts play with either real or fake flowers but there are few who are master in playing with both together. If you are an over-possessive bride and needs to have everything real and unique, then you can go for real fresh flowers.

When it is about artificial flowers, you don’t need to think twice about seasons as it is easily available throughout the year. Use it and forget about it as it is highly durable so your decorations can last for years.This very quality of plastic flowers is harmful to the environment. As we all know plastic is one of the dangerous pollutants.Then there is an aspect that people don’t consider at all while selecting flowers for their wedding, be it real or plastic. Our farmers! Indian wedding market is a $50 billion (around 33,000 crores) market. And if we consider flowers as even 1 per cent of the total expense, it would be around 330 crores. We can help our farmers instead of spending it on fake flowers from China. Indian farmers are pushing the Govt. of India to increase the import duties of or ban the import of plastic/fake flowers. A letter from Brij Mohan Khaganwal, founder, Birju Phool Mandi App and association of flower growers and flower shop owners have written a letter to the Prime Minister of India in this matter.

We will like to end it with a quote from Mr. Jafar Naqvi, President, iFlora. As he puts it, even the most expensive plastic flower emits poisonous fumes and even the cheapest flower emits freshness. We rest our case.

Challenges before the Indian Floral Market

India is rich in agro-climate areas and bio-diversities. Climate change has a direct impact over the flowering plants especially in the commercial production done under the open field conditions. In the booming span, the flower production is damaged directly with the impact of excessive cold, heat, unpredictable or continuous rainfall or storm.

Climate change impact over the flowering plants is becoming apparent. Altering temperature affects the growth of flowers mainly ornamental plants. Drought can be a challenge in the areas with low rainfall and high temperature that results in fading of colour, petal shedding in budding flowers. Open area cultivation is highly prone to pests, diseases, nematodes, and weeds that affect the production. No matter what and how good the cultivation, these factors always leads to drawback. The low yield occurs even due to a slight change in temperature and humidity that results in increasing pathogens and insects.

Infrastructure related challenges

Being the 2nd largest market in terms of flower consumption, India still lacks some basic infrastructure like an air conditioned flower market. The production-related challenges are associated to ground level issues like unavailability of enough infrastructure, quality species of planting material and identical manures or fertilisers. Other big hindrances are less knowledge of high yield varieties, the proper dose of fertilisers, correct use of pesticides and soil testing. The floriculture production is even badly affected by lack of skilled labour for cultivation and plant protection before and after harvesting of flowers. Ageing plantations further adding to the woes of producers in this market.

Marketing and export-related challenges

While calculating the net profit of the production, flower marketing is the main problem. The marketing of floriculture produce faces various challenges like grading, assembling, packaging and transportation. From the marginal farmers to the large-scale exporters, there are many constraints related to the marketing and export of the flowers and other floral products. Major challenges faced by Indian exporters are related to product diversification, innovation, vertical integration, and environmental changes. Logistics is even turning into a critical factor with the rapid involvement of the supermarket in floral trade for the Indian floral exporters. For flower’s export, air freight rates are very exorbitant as compared to many other flower producing countries like Kenya, Ethiopia & Ecuador where government policies are favourable for trade.

Inspite of all these challenges, Indian producers and customers find this as an exciting market which has a lot of potential.