Flowers of Sri Lanka

Distinctive feature of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity

A remarkable feature of biodiversity of Sri Lanka is high proportion of endemic flowering species. Sri Lanka has 23% of endemic flowering plants. None of the religious or cultural festival of Sri Lanka ends without flowers. After British rule, floriculture came up as a hobby in almost all parts of Sri Lanka; especially, 1970 marked the benchmark, for floriculture to be started as an occupation.

National Flower of Sri Lanka

The Nil Mahanel is the national flower of Sri Lanka. It was declared so on 26th of February, 1986. Botanically, it is known as Nympheae Stellata. This flower traces its origin in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit literary compositions. The other names for it are ‘Kuvalaya’, ’Indhewara’, ’Niluppala’, ’Nilothpala’ and ’Nilupul’. This flower occupies a prominent position in Buddhist literature as well. It was observed that footprint of prince Siddharth bore the design of Nil Mahanel. Shallow waters are conducive to the growth of Nil Mahanel. It is purplish blue with a cluster of petals in middle. The Nil Mahanel is believed to epitomize discipline, purity, and truth.

Area under the influence of Floriculture

The floriculture industry in Sri Lanka is divided into three categories: large ventures on commercial basis (export), middle-level producers corresponding to local market, villagers selling their produce to either of the two above-mentioned categories. At present around 500 hectares comprise of floriculture. Out of this area,10 ha comprise of carnations,3 ha of roses,2 ha of gerberas,10 ha of anthuriums,3 ha of orchids and 472 ha of foliage plants.
So, foliage plants dominate the market.

Large-scale producers cultivate ornamental foliage plants in collaboration with foreign companies, using advanced techniques. Cut flowers are cultivated by middle level and village level producers. Therefore, these people cater to the local demand and only extra are exported occasionally. However, carnations are exceptionally grown for export.

Production of material used for planting

Seeds of many annul such as asters, petunias, impatiens, phlox and verbenas are produced for export under special green house provisions. Generally, stem cuttings, rooted or unrooted are exported as floriculture planting materials. Bulbs, corm and tubers are in great demand abroad.

Potential for development of Cut flower manufacturing

Sri Lanka has a splendid climate for cut flower production. Moreover, land availability and high literacy rate would prove to be an added advantage. Also, tax benefits and BOI incentives provided by government would attract a lot of investors to start business transactions. The measures such as agronomy, pathology, entomology, mutation, breeding, post harvest and mass propagation are in the pipeline.


Inadequacies and high overheads, improper research and development facilities, less number of trained personnel, large investment initially, inefficient marketing, illiteracy regarding pesticides, certificate of phytosanitary clearance are the primary constraints in cut flower production development.

Cut flowers in Sri Lanka

Temperate cut flowers

They are cultivated in the temperate zone. They are inclusive of rose, carnation, gypsophyla, statice, chrysanthemum, irises. Roses and Carnations are primly grown for exports. The imported plant material is used for these cultivations. Others are grown to fulfill the demands of local population. Mediterranean along with America is the main regions where the demands are the highest. Pink, white, yellow, red, and salmon colors are very popular. Some of the other which is gaining popularity is the striped and the frosted types. American cultivars are red barron, bagatelle, Barbara, else. Mediterranean cultivars are lena, tanga, bora.
After carnations, roses are in queue. Popular colors are red-50%, pink-30%, yellow-10%, others-10%

Tropical cut flowers

The tropical cut flowers are grown for exports. These can be cultivated at about 1500 meters above the bare level of the sea. Annual production accounts to about flowers of about 3 million categories. Exports are not carried out much. Plantations takes place under structures provided with shade nets or the poly tunnels. The traditionally available material is used for providing shade levels. Tropical orchids are suitable to grow in conditions which are warm and upto 500 meters above sea level. Western province is conducive for growth of orchids. The cultivation of orchids takes place on the hectares of land. Gerberas are drawing attention now days. Tissue culture is used to grow gerberas. About 2 hectares of land is under cultivation of gerberas.

Methods of conservation

The basic problem with Sri Lanka is its geography. It’s an island, so the endemic plants cannot be planted in the coastal area. Big perennial trees have to be planted to avert soil erosion. Special heed should be paid to projects dealing with green revolution. Social awareness is very much essential, so that every person can individually take care of the national vegetation. Effective measures of nature conservation in officially declared protected areas would help conserve forests. Declaration of new protected areas in wet zone would help curb the dilapidation of flora of Sri Lanka. Further encroachment should be prevented on wet zone rainforests.


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