Follow the Guidelines to Increase Your Chance of Winning at the Flower Show

by Alessandra Selgi-Harrigan

As everyone looks forward to the Flower Show, this year there are some things to remember when submitting entries in order to follow the rules and increase the chance of winning a ribbon or an award.

Carvill Veech, chair of the horticultural division is excited about some changes happening to the rose sections. “The list of classes have been changed to more closely reflect the show put on by the American Rose Society, but we still have local touches with awards specific to Coronado,” she said. Some of the local awards are Best of Coronado Grown Rose and Best Child’s Rose, an award given to a child under 13 years old who enters a rose. The rose does not have to be grown by the child but by a neighbor, relative or friend.

Veech reminded those who plan on entering a rose not to clip all the leaves on the stem, but leave at least five, and also to cut the rose as long as possible. “Try to know the name, if it’s a beautiful rose but has no name it may get a ribbon, but if it has a name it may get a top award. The rose should have its proper name,” said Veech.  The same goes for cut flowers; if someone brings a bird of paradise and has its proper name “strelitzia reginae” then the flower may receive a better prize. Volunteers at the different sections will try to help exhibitors name the flowers if necessary.

Another important point to remember is wedging, which is done to keep a flower or plant from leaning. “Wedging for flowers in a container is permitted, to make flowers that lean stand up in an attractive fashion. Wedging is not supposed to show a lot … in roses you can use leaves on the stem. In cut flowers we’ll allow it,” she said.

Plants and flowers should be pest free. It’s permissible to trim or remove a leaf but exhibitors  can’t add anything back once something is cut. Plants cannot be sprayed with products to make them shine. Exhibitors can clean the leaves with wet paper towels.

Veech said that the time to bring entries is Friday, April 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, April 18 from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Entries brought in after 9:30 a.m. will not be judged but are used for display only.

Judges at the Flower Show belong to the are National Garden Club and Plant Society. Veech, a master gardener and past Chairman of the Flower Show, is a National Garden Club judge and a member of the Crown Garden Club.

“I want people to make a good effort to bring the show to life with lots of horticulture. People are busy, the lots are smaller. We have an exciting horticulture division with roses, container plants, hanging plants, cut flowers, tree branches,” she explained. The Arboreals  section is dedicated to flowering branches, foliage and fruited/berried or coned branches. Bougainvillea branches, stems of loquat and citrus are some examples. The maximum length of a branch is 30 inches from tip to cut end and must include several nodes and apical tip. Herbs are another interesting section exhibitors can enter. Classes include lavender, rosemary, sage and any other cut herb. “There is something for everyone,” said Veech.

In the cut flower section new vials for displays will be used this year which were donated by the Rose Society. “It’s done to unify the appearance of the division. Before we used vases of all shapes and sizes. This year we’ll have vials in wooden stands,” explained Veech.

A general rule for entering a flower is as follows: if a flower is big, bring only one bloom; if it’s small bring three blooms; and if you plan on bringing three flowers they should be the same size. Although each section lists a variety of plants, sections C to G have a class called “any other” to allow entries not listed. Every category has one award for best exhibit and in some cases entries share one award. This year the cactaceae and succulents location will be switched to the former location of the children’s section to make it more visible to visitors. For combination planting, which is three or more succulents in a container, Veech recommends cleaning the top of the pot from debris and dead leaves and use top dressing like rocks or gravel to show off the plants. Double potting is allowed as long as the edge of the bottom pot is not visible.

Some of the most common succulent entries are the Aeonium ( Schwartzkopf, Cyclops) Agave, Crassula (Jade plant) Haworthia (Zebra plant, Widow plant). “There are people that grow beautiful examples and don’t think to bring them in,” she said of residents. Cactaceae and succulents are at times more difficult to take care. They can be a challenge  when it comes to know when to water them and where the best location is for them to flourish. “It takes practice and commitment,” she said. Another reminder is if a house plant grows against the wall it will probably be flat on one side. Veech said plants need to be equally balanced. She recommends clipping dead leaves and clean the top of the container and use a planter that does not distract from the plant or is too big. “Try to make the plant look as best as it possibly can,” she said. For a complete list of rules, guidelines and sections log on

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