Hints for Flower Show Exhibitors
- Always read the show schedule carefully before the show to be able to plan your entries.
- Keep your tools sharpened. Cut your flowers on the evening prior to the show or early in the morning. Never cut specimens when the sun is shining strongly. Have a pail of warm water handy to set the stem in immediately. Cut the ends of the stems at an angle to help the flower take up water. Flowers drink the most water the day after picking.
- Hardening flowers after cutting is important. Remove the lower foliage and place the stems in hot water (110ºF / just under 45ºC) for 12 hours before exhibiting then place in deep, cool water. They can be stored in light or dark, unless they have fruit. The air temperature should ideally be between 40-50ºF/ 5-10ºC.
- Conditioning refers to standing flowers in a suggested solution, for not more than 12 hours, after which they are put in plain cold water. When using chemicals in various solutions, never use metal containers. Porcelain or glass is best.
- Splitting a stem of woody plants for the bottom 10 cm (4 in.) is preferable to hammering. If you are using a clear container, dip the ends in boiling water.
- Judges look for uniformity in size, colour and perfection. Try to avoid mismatches in size and colours.
- Check all foliage and remove blemishes or damaged leaves. Faded or black petals should be removed. Also, remove foliage from under water.
- If using floral foam, try not to take a flower out and then replace it. The block will break if full of holes.
- Keep your containers full of water and change the water in arrangements every two to four days.
- Do not remove foliage from carnations. Cut their stems just below a node (where the leaves join the stem).
- Cut dahlias after sunset and condition in two quarts (approximately two litres) of ice water and five tablespoons of alcohol.
- Condition delphiniums in a mixture of one tablespoon (15 ml) of alcohol and one pint (about half a litre) of water, then place in water 1/3 up the stem.
- The end of stems of euphorbia, forget-me-nots, poppies, sunflowers, Shasta daisies and dahlias should be placed in a flame immediately after cutting and then put in deep cold water.
- Cut peonies when almost full-blown. Condition in one quart (1.1 litres) of water and three tablespoons (45 ml) of sugar, then arrange in deep water.
- Roses and irises should be cut just as the outer petals begin to unfold. Gladiolus should be cut a day or two before the show and kept in a cool and shaded location.
- Many flowers such as roses enlarge by a 1/4 to a 1/3 in size during hardening. The bottom 1/2 inch (a little over one cm) of all stems should be cut off with a slanted cut after hardening. Make a fresh cut before putting in water. Fresh roses are firm to touch at the base of their petals.
- Roses will benefit by having the stem placed in water as hot as your hand can bear before standing in cold water. You can open a rose by gently blowing into the bud.
- Piercing the stem of tulips with a pin and immersing the stem in cold water for several hours will keep them in an upright condition.
- For exhibitors, you may wish to purchase Snippy Tips, a book on conditioning tips, sold at the Toronto Botanical Garden shop.