So You Want to be in an Orchid Show!

Re-blooming an orchid can be a momentous event. Some people take pictures and make detailed notes. Other people throw a party so their guests can see the blossoms. A select few take their hobby to the next level: they enter their plant in a local orchid show.

Thousands of visitors may walk through an orchid show in a weekend. They marvel at the seemingly endless number of shapes, sizes, and colors of each intricate flower. They also notice the blue, red, yellow, and white ribbons which hang from certain plants - apparently signifying a competition of some sort. These growers take their orchids very seriously.

It is relatively easy for a novice to get involved in an orchid show. Newcomers start by contacting the American Orchid Society ( in order to locate their closest chapter. Most major cities have a group of orchid enthusiasts and many will host a show – usually at a garden center, botanical garden, or mall.

There is no cost to exhibit an orchid but there are a few important rules. For starters, each plant must have a proper botanical name consisting of not only the genera (Ex Oncidium) but also the species or hybrid name (Ex Sharry Baby). If there is a variety name (Ex Sweet Fragrance), then that should be included also.

Secondly, each plant must be entered into its proper category for competition since the judges compare orchids of similar types. There could be well over one hundred different horticultural classes. Just in the cattleya class alone, there are seven subclasses based on color.

Finally, each plant must be free of insects and diseases, the foliage staked and groomed, and the leaves relatively clean. Growers often use a 50/50 mixture of lemon juice and water to make their foliage shine.

Does your orchid smell delightful? There is now a fragrance contest too.

It takes time to perfect the art of orchid competition but, regardless of the judge’s decisions, everybody is a winner for trying.

Monday, February 1, 2016 - 20:00