GETTING YOUR BLOOMS TO THE HEAD TABLE
poorly grown plant will not produce a show winner. This article is
a "how to" on culture but a "how to" on getting your blooms
to the head
You will need to disbud your show plants, leaving no more than three
four buds (terminal buds) per foot of plant height. Keep a mixture of buds
various levels of maturity. Complete this task by late September.
Under normal conditions, each variety has a specific time response to
Learn these response times for your particular environment and gib accordingly.
As buds begin to show color, pin encroaching limbs and leaves
from the bud with clothes pins to prevent petal damage. Watch the open-
bud carefully; if the flower is a semi-double with upright petals or if
is a loose peony, check the opening flower for uniformity. You may use
pieces of Dacron batting to stuff between petals forcing them to fill
blooms MUST be cut at peak condition and, when cut at the proper
can be kept in cold storage for four to six days. Cut your blooms
about two inches of stem and place them on a Dacron-lined tray for trans-
to your prep area. Cut no more than four to six blooms at one time;
these and then go back for more. Have your entry cards completed
blooms must be groomed to perfection. Primary grooming is done at
in your prep area and final touch-up grooming is reserved for the show
All leaves (two at most) should be turned right-side up and wiped
with a damp cloth. Some exhibitors like to use a small amount of leaf
on the damp cloth. Examine the stamens, if any, and remove a stray
anther that may be present. Do not attempt to remove more than one or
as this will disqualify the flower from contention. If the bloom has
cut at its peak, this will not be a problem.
is the time to place a collar on those blooms whose outer petals
a tendency to curl downward. Size the collar properly so that it will
be a distraction to the judges. Use a small, soft artists brush to re-
any pollen grains from petal surfaces. Also inspect blooms for spiders,
etc --these are a definite no-no.
those blooms with upright petals, place small pieces of Dacron
petals to keep them upright. This is very important if you plan to
the bloom any appreciable distance. This "stuffing" will be re-
at the show site. Now place the bloom in its individual container
with tight-fitting lid and place the entry card on top of the container.
Prepare the containers in this manner:
Plastic containers of varying sizes are needed. Use large ones
(five quart) for large blooms, small ones for your small blooms, etc.
2. Place a small cup receptacle (about 3/4" diameter
X 1" high) in
center of the container and surround it with a generous layer of Dacron.
the cup with your favorite "keeper" solution.
If the flower is to be stored longer than a couple of days, you
wish to spray the bloom lightly with Clear Life (Design Master) or
Set (Flora Life) -- available from
your floral supply house. This
coating reduces moisture loss and the bloom remains turgid.
Recut the two-inch stem to fit the cup, place the bloom stem in
the cup so that the bloom is level and is centered in the container.
Cover the bloom with a very thin sheet of Dacron to pro tect it
from any lid condensation.
are refrigerated in their containers at 39F -41 F and trans-
to the show site in appropriately sized styrofoam boxes. A large
(16"H X 20"W X 48"L) will hold fifteen to twenty containers of
along with four one-quart "blue ice" containers to keep the blooms
The amount of blue ice needed will be dependent on ambient tempera-
sufficient time at the show site to perform your final grooming
and to place your entries for competition. Select a display cup that is
to bloom size- miniatures in a small cup, etc. Many shows
to provide adequately sized cups for your small flowers, particularly
therefore, you may need to take your own cups for your small
bloom destined for the head table has to be near perfect in every
With a lot of hard work and clo se attention to detail, you can
your bloom meet those strict standards.
- - Hyman R. Norsworthy
From Presentation to the Brookhaven Camellia Society on 11/12/02