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