Dedicated to America’s favorite flower: the Rose!


By Sandy Lundberg (sandylund[at]aol[dot]com)

You have been growing some good roses for a while now. I’ll be willing to bet that you have been bringing some in the house and making arrangements to brighten up your home. You may also have been bringing some to your church for Sunday services or the local nursing home to brighten up the day of some elderly or you might bring a friend in the hospital a beautiful bouquet.

You say that you have no interest in exhibiting in your rose society’s show. You might find it intimidating to enter against some of the experienced rose show exhibitors. You are already an exhibitor if you “exhibit” your roses in your home, church, nursing home, or hospital.

One of the advantages to exhibiting is that it helps you become a better grower through discussions with the other exhibitors. You will find that another advantage is you will make a lot of new friends!

The transition to exhibiting in a show is not as hard as you might think. There are classes for novice exhibitors. That first blue ribbon will be a thrill. Winning Novice Queen, Novice Mini Queen or Novice Miniflora Queen will be an exciting moment. In addition, you will have contributed to enabling your society to have a bigger, better show.

We will discuss some methods for organizing your exhibiting. Some preplanning will help remove some of the stress from the prep time on the morning of the show. Organization can help make you a winner. We have found that using these methods to be valuable in allowing for a pleasurable experience.

In the garden, you should pay close attention to the progress of the roses. Make it a habit to take a walk through your roses daily. While you are walking, don’t forget to enjoy the roses. Look for such things as unwanted side growth and any pests. Remove center buds from those stems that you want to develop into sprays. Any developing blooms that you would want to enter as one bloom per stem should be watched for the development of side buds. Cut them so that you leave about 1/4- to 1/2-inch of the stem. This will dry up and the morning of the show, will pop out easily, leaving no scar. During your walk look for new basal breaks and provide support for them, so that these tender breaks are not broken by wind. These activities are not just for exhibiting only but should be a regular part of your garden maintenance

In order to keep your blooms undamaged by thrip, you will need to mist with Orthene. This can be done with a spray bottle. Use at a rate of one tablespoon per gallon. This should start as soon as the buds start to show color. Mist every other night and you will have clean blooms that do not have thrips waiting to say hello to the judges.

Remember to keep an eye out for other “pests”. A weekly water wanding or bi-weekly spray of Avid or another miticide will keep the spider mites away.

As daily temperatures increase keeping up with water is essential. In the week before the show, the roses should be watered daily. This helps increase the substance of the petals. For the rest of the month, be sure to provide a minimum of 1 to 2 inches per week. Fertilizers used at this time should be water soluble. Either Miracle-Gro or a bloom builder formulation can be used at the rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon and 1 teaspoon per gallon for minis. For best form, you should have been using a bloom builder formulation such as 10-50-10. This should be done every two weeks and should have been started before the buds began to form. For lush, green foliage use a tablespoon of Sprint 330 at the rate of one tablespoon per gallon for large bushes and 1 teaspoon per miniature bush a couple of weeks before the show. Fish emulsion can also be used at one tablespoon per gallon. Staying on your weekly spray routine is essential.

On Sunday before the show, take a long good look at your garden. Any buds not showing color will not be ready for the 9

Saturday show. You may want to make a list of what you think you will have available for the show. Study the show schedule and see how what you have may be used. If you are into computers, you may want to do what we do. We have inventories of hybrid teas, minis, and floribundas. We walk through on Sunday and mark those that look like they will be ready. This helps to not overlook something at the end of the week that you meant to bring to the show. Then, as we cut and refrigerate, we mark these on the list.

Then, at the show, we mark what we have entered in another column by putting the section and class numbers by the variety name. After the show, you can put awards, blue, red, yellow, and white ribbons in another column. This helps eliminate confusion as to whether we entered a certain variety in a certain class.

After cutting a specimen for the show, gently wash in a mild soapy solution to remove any spray residue being careful not to get water on the bloom. Condition them in warm water for an hour or two after cutting the stem under water. Then, save yourself valuable time on show morning by polishing the leaves now before refrigerating the rose. Set the rose in a vase and gently polish each leaf with a soft cloth. We use shoeshine cloths from hotels. Also, use this time to trim any leaves that have damage. Don’t do any trimming of the bloom until show morning as it will cause bruising. With the leaves done, you now have more time to concentrate on getting that bloom perfect! Refrigerate the bloom in water that has been conditioned with a preservative like Crysal RVB or Flora-Life.

Organize your exhibiting. Have entry tags already filled out except for exhibitor’s number and section and class. A file box with alphabetical dividers will help you find what you need easily. We like to use separate file boxes: one small one for the mini tags and a larger one for the tags that are used for large roses. Put rubber bands on ahead of time. Everything you can do before the show will give you more prep time and as an added bonus, it will keep you from feeling pressured!

Time to exhibit! Set the large roses into bottles. Go ahead and put the entry tags on them. Inspect each one. Don’t forget to pop out the stubs that had side growth that you had cut in the garden. If you forgot to cut a piece of side growth, take a knife and carefully cut the unwanted stem. If you brought them in a cold chest they will need at least thirty minutes to “warm up” before you can start working with them. Now, while waiting, you can start working on getting the minis in vases and adjusting the form. Often, if I think that a fast opening mini is at perfect stage, I will put it back into the cold chest to be pulled out at the last minute. Now you can start gradually working on opening the hybrid teas that are too tight. Start with the outer row, wait a while then come back and work on the next row, etc. Usually floribunda sprays can be entered first once they are ready. This will give you more work space. It is a good idea to wait until last to enter the hybrid teas in order to make any necessary last minute adjustments. If you have put any kind of paper tag on your rose so you don’t forget its name, be sure to remove it or it will cause your rose to be disqualified!

Try some of these suggestions for organizing your exhibiting. I think you will be pleased with the results. We find that it prevents confusion and makes the process of exhibiting much more relaxed and pleasurable.

Sandy Lundberg (sandylund[at]aol[dot]com), ‘Exhibiting is a Fun Part of Our Hobby,’ April 2014. Charleston Rose. Rosalinda Morgan (RosalindaRM[at]comcast[dot]net), ed. Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society.

 Click here for the pdf version of this article.