Tips from a Camellia Showman

Hyman & Evelyn Norsworthy

Hyman & Evelyn Norsworth

Many of us who made the round of camellia shows in the Gulf Coast area had the pleasure of knowing Hyman & Evelyn Norsworthy from the Houston area.  They always brought the large cases of blooms and every show chairman knew that there would be a great display of beautiful blooms to fill the tables.  Hyman was particularly successful in getting his blooms through the judging process and to the head table.  How did he do this?  We asked him to give a presentation to the Brookhaven Camellia Society about what we could do to give our blooms their best chance.  Here is a list of his notes.  Thank you, Hyman for you generosity.


                                 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 response to
                       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 problem.

                               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, etc.

                                 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" solution. 

                                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 11/12/02