From seeds to blooms @ IISc horticultural nursery

To coincide with the Birthday of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, the founder of IISc, the Horticultural Nursery and Garden of IISc puts together a spectacular display of ornamental flowering plants in the form of a floral display in the quadrangle of IISc’s iconic Main Building.

The annual founder’s day flower-show coincides with two major events that take place in the month of March every year: (i) The Birthday of the Jasmetji Nusserwanji Tata that falls on March 3rd. (J N Tata was born on March 3rd 1839) and (ii) IISc Open Day when the Institutes opens all its laboratories for the public.

The task of putting up the floral display handled by the IISc Horticultural Garden and Nursery that maintains the pristine 400-acre wooded campus of the Indian Institute of Science.

The Annual Founder’s Day flower-show first began, probably in the 1950s, when the IISc Horticultural Nursery and Garden participated in flower-shows around the state, especially in the Mysore Dasara Flower-Show, where it won many awards for the best floral display.

Figure 1. Trophies won by the IISc’s horticultural nursery in flower-shows

A dedicated team of gardeners led by Mr. B. Sridhar, the Curator/Technical Officer/Horticulturist begins the process of preparing for the flower show, sometime in the month of December every year.

A variety of seeds (harvested from the previous year’s flower show) and fresh seeds purchased from reputed horticultural agencies in the city are first sun-dried and then planted in several rows of pots (which have the right mix of crocks/sand/red mud or soil and manure).

Figure 2. Seeds used in the nursery for the flower-show in March

A variety of ornamental seeds are planted, including among others, Phlox, Hollyhock, Zinnia, Marigold, Salvia, Larkspur, Cleome, Anthiriium, Petunia, Nastrutium, Cosmos, and many more varieties. The seeds are nurtured from day one until they grow and bloom around the third week of February.

Figure 3. Flowering plants grown in IISc nursery

The dedicated team of gardeners spend hours between December to February/March when the ornamental plants are in full bloom. They carefully water the plants twice a day, de-weed them regularly, tie support sticks to strengthen the plants and prepare them for eventual display.  Whenever necessary, insecticide is sprayed to prevent damage to the ornamental plants.

Figure 4. Gardeners at IISc’s horticultural nursery

Like clock-work, by the 1st of March every year, the floral pots are transported from the Horticultural Nursery to the quadrangle of the main building, where the gardeners put up a spectacular display to coincide with the Founder’s Day Celebrations on March 3rd. The floral display attracts a variety of butterflies and bees for whom it is a summer bonanza. It is feast for eyes of the Institute residents and thousands of visitors who come to IISc on the Open Day.

Fig 5. Winged beauties at IISc

Fig 6. Flowers

Also see articles about the history and current activities of IISc’s nursery in

i) CONNECT article by Bharathi Dharapuram and ii) Dr. Sharath Ahuja’s article in a news paper.


Credits: Dr. Sharath Ahuja