Packaging techniques for improving shelf life of dry flowers
Authors: K.Prasad*1, Pallavi Neha2, Lakshmi Durga3 and Nirmal Kumar1
1 Division of Food Science & Postharvest technology
*Email of corresponding author: kprasadiari@gmail.com
Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa campus, New Delhi-110012

2 Division of Food Science Postharvest technology
Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru, Karnataka -560089

3 Division of Floriculture and Landscaping
Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa campus, New Delhi-110012


Need of Proper Packing and packaging of dry flowers

Fresh flowers and foliages though exquisite in their beauty are highly expensive. Also they are perishable and delicate in nature and cannot retain their beauty and fresh look for a long time inspite of using best chemicals for enhancing vase life. Moreover, there is a non-availability of fresh flowers and foliages all round the year in all places. In this context flowers can be dried, preserved and processed to retain its beauty as well as everlasting value.

The use of dried flowers has made it possible to enjoy their beauty for several years which survive the cold of winter and heat of summer. With growing eco-consciousness, the use of more and more nature-friendly things like these come as a natural choice for decoration. The life of dried flowers varies according to the species, texture of their petals and total consistency of flowers.

One of the most important benefits associated with dehydrated/ dried plant material is its relatively non-perishable nature as compared to fresh parent plant material. As a result, packaging and handling should theoretically offer no real problem, but due to less moisture dried plant material is very brittle. Thus packaging for delicate dried plant material should serve to both contain and protect the product. Therefore it is advisable to purchase superior grade or standard cartons or boxes for packing dried plant material. It should not be roughly handled during transportation and distribution and it can be done through education by creating awareness of product characteristics.

Dried plant material should be protected from moisture throughout the marketing channel. They are hygroscopic in nature, if allowed to absorb moisture, problem of mould infection will occur. The dried flowers should be treated with a suitable biocide (insecticide and fungicide) and packed in waterproof containers.


Components of Proper packaging of dry flowers

Selection of proper packaging, giving proper cushioning and use of moisture barrier packaging materials are of prime consideration in dry flower industry.

Careful packing is one of the most important aspects of any product. Dry flowers should be packed nicely to avoid any damage. They should be packed alone in appropriate sized carton loosely cushioned with paper. They should be packed in a manner to keep them away from direct sunlight leaving some room for air. Packing material should be stable and firm to hold the dry flowers well without any damage during storage or transportation.

Dry flower packing can be in
Poly bag
Sachet
Window box
Cardboard box

Polybag:

Polybag is made up of polythene, which is flexible water resistant plastic that is ideal for making merchandise bags. Polybag is the traditional way to capture the fragrance of summer hues. They are widely used in packaging of dry flowers for a longer and safer storage.

Types of poly bags:

Low density polyethylene (LDPE): It is the material used in most polybags. It has greater tensile strength, clarity, flexibility and water resistant properties.
High density poly ethylene (HDPE): It is made up of thinner gauge material to lower freight costs and storage requirements. It has greater strength, and is water resistant.
Dry flowers are safely packed in polybags. Dried flowers are tied together with a rope or a thread by their stems. They are gently placed in the polybags for storage or shipping. The polybags are then closed with a tape or are sealed at the open end. For packing dry flowers LDPE bags are used.

Window box:

Window boxes are gardens in a box, manageable and enchanting. They can be planned to coordinate with the home's colour scheme, accent a scene, celebrate an occasion and provide decoration for the kitchen or entrance. Various types and colors of dry flowers are beautifully arranged in the window boxes and can be stored for longer. Window boxes decorate windows, railings, fire escapes and patios. Houses, apartments and sheds can be enhanced with the addition of a flower filled window box, spilling over with dry grasses and foliage. The window box adds color to the room. They can add zest to one's room and can firmly hold dry flowers and protect them.
They are made of highly durable fiber glass. The fiber glass is strong and sturdy to take the weight of dry flowers and added marbles or pebbles. They won't rot and backed with lifetime guarantee. Fiber glass window boxes look better and more balanced when they are little wider than the actual wider than the actual window and the style of window box should match the architectural integrity of the home

Cardboard box:

Cardboard is a paper product made of unbleached craft paper, with two heavy outer layers and inner layer to provide strength. Boxes are made of cardboard for packing of dry flowers. They are the most versatile of all packing materials for dry flowers. They can store dry flowers well for a longer period and are easy to ship long distances. They protect dry flowers from all possible hazards.

Method of packing dry flowers

Small bunches of dry flowers are wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a little string or raffia. The material is stored in cardboard box, staking them very carefully rotating the floral ends. The box is sealed or a tape applied to it. These cardboard boxes can also be made tamper proof and logos or symbols can be printed on the box for the identification of different types of dry flowers.

Methodology for proper Storage of dry flowers:

Dried materials in storage may occasionally be attacked by one or more household insects, such as museum beetles, silverfish, roaches or others closely related to them. As the insects chew on the soft tissue of the plant centers, flowers may shatter and fall apart. These insects are not necessarily on the flowers as they come from the garden but move into the boxes in the home during storage. Tightly sealed containers prevent insect invasion. Occasionally check boxes, and if insects are present, destroy the infected materials and thoroughly clean the container before using it again. Naphthalene flakes may repel insects, or some general insecticides may help control them, but once an area is infested, complete eradication is difficult. Cleanliness and persistence are the best means of remedying the situation.

Silica gel crystals should be kept at the bottom of the storage containers like desiccators, glass jars or plastic jars to prevent the dried plant material from spoilage and for their future utilization.

Storage of flowers in cardboard boxes without any lining protected from light and direct sunlight was found to be good. This is because inserting in polythene covers caused moisture build up and it ruined the flowers. Here fading occurred as a result of the dried flower reabsorbing moisture.

Protect the material from direct sunlight or more light intensity especially from incandescent lamps. The storage should be dust free and keep the cartons or boxes clean from time to time. Store separately different dried ornamental plant material and fix proper label outside with complete description of the product kept inside, which will be very helpful during handling, transportation and marketing. If they become dusty, a careful whisk with a soft brush is usually sufficient to clean them. Dried plant materials are highly flammable, and precautions should be taken to prevent fire hazards.

Do not consider dried flowers everlasting. Preferably, they should be replaced yearly, but with good care they often last longer. Even the best dried flowers gradually fade and should be discarded when they no longer produce the desired effect. Flowers that tend to fade may be lightly tinted with aerosol paints or dyes for more durable color. With care, the natural look can be preserved.

References
Aruna P., Preethi T.L., Ponnuswami V., Swaminathan V and Sankaranarayanan R, 2011, Packing and Storage. Chapter-24. In: Postharvest Techniques and Management for Dry Flowers, Nipa Books publishers.
Bhutani, J.C., 1995, Drying of flowers and floral craft. Advances in Horticulture, 12: 1053-1058.

Datta, S.K., 2004, Dehydration of flowers: A new diversified product for floriculture industry. Emerging Trends in Ornamental Horticulture, 2004, Indian Society of Ornamental Horticulture, pp.157-161.

Muthukumaran C, 2009, Indian floriculture industry: opportunities and challenges, Cab calling: pp. 49-53

Ranjan, J.K. and Misra, S., 2002, Dried flowers: a way to enjoy their beauty for a long period. Indian Horticulture, 46: 32-33.

Rengasamy, P., Arumugam, T., Jawaharlal, M., Ashok, A.D. and Vijayakumar, M., 1999, "Dry flowers" - A profitable floriculture industry. Kisan World, 26: 61-62.


About Author / Additional Info:
Ph.D. Research Scholar at Division of Food Science and Postharvest Technology ICAR-IARI New Delhi, Masters at ICAR-IARI. ICAR-JRF , ICAR-SRF and IARI-SRF Holder