Horticulture Committee

Guidelines for entering a Hort Show

To enter one of our club Horticultural shows, you will need to bring your show-ready exhibit and your completed Horticulture Entry Card. Steps 1 to 6 detailed below show you how to do this.

1. Read the Hort show schedule
Look at the Hort show schedule in your SBGC program book. Check the rules, the schedule of classes, and note any specifications such as size, or limits on entries. Check the required length of ownership (in general it’s three months). SBGC members can usually enter up to three different varieties or cultivars in any one class, but again always check your program. Sometimes there are exceptions.
If you’ve researched and are still not sure where, or if, a favorite stem in your garden might fit the schedule, just ask any of us. We are happy to help.

2. Select your exhibit
With the schedule in mind, select the specific plant from your garden that you want to exhibit. You will need to know the name of the plant to be able fill in your show entry card; see step 4 for resources to check on the nomenclature (plant name). Choose your best branch or stem. In general, flowering shrubs should ideally be 3/4 in flower. Cut your exhibit and immediately place it in lukewarm water. The best time of day to pick is early morning or late afternoon because the stem is more turgid; i.e. contains more moisture.
Please note: You need to check to be sure your pick is not an invasive plant, because ‘invasives’ cannot be entered in any GCA show. (For 2017 list of invasive plants in NJ check here:
Also check to see if your plant is an endangered plant. If this is the case, you need to add a statement on the Show entry card that it was not gathered in the wild. Check your SBGC program book for more information.

3. Grooming your exhibit
Be sure your exhibit is clean, has no excess pollen, has no bugs and has minimal signs of insect damage. You could carefully trim an insect damaged leaf (retaining its natural shape) if you think it’s important to keep that leaf for your exhibit. If a stem or branch has leaves, usually you can decide which leaves to show and which leaves to remove. However, check the schedule since there may be a particular leaf requirement, as is the case with rhododendrons and roses. For all exhibits, remove all leaves which will be under water in the display vase.
Some cut flowers require conditioning so they stay fresh longer. Here are some conditioning suggestions: For a branch make a fresh cut on the stem; then split the stem just a little at the bottom (to increase water intake); and promptly put in water. For hydrangeas, submerge the entire bloom in tepid water for approximately 30 minutes; then cut the stem at a slant while it’s submerged; then place the stem in a vase of tepid water. To condition hellebores, place the flower in boiling water for 10 seconds, then immediately submerge in cold water. The internet is a big help with conditioning suggestions.
Good grooming tools include Q Tips, tweezers, small scissors, clippers, magnifying glass, flashlight, paintbrush, alcohol wipes (to remove tiny bugs) and a green or brown marker to hide marks on green stem or brown branch left after removing unwanted branches.
Choose a plain, clear glass vase for your exhibit which will present your exhibit
well. Colored glass or opaque vases are not permitted since they obscure the stem. For a large stem and/or large flower, use a sturdy based vase to hold it up and balance the size. For a single small blossom use a small vase. Narrower openings on vases hold a specimen better and are easier to wedge.
The second part of grooming is wedging, so your exhibit is held in place in the vase with its ‘best side’ showing. (However, remember judges may check your exhibit from all sides). Use something natural for wedging, such as evergreen yew, cotton or pieces of cork. If using evergreens, hold several pieces of the evergreen in your hand and trim to approximate size. Then wedge it into the vase opening with your stem, and then carefully trim the wedging to a little above the vase rim. Please note that boxwood is no longer permitted for wedging due to the prevalence of Boxwood blight.
Bottle corks cut into triangular wedges are allowed for wedging and hold a specimen well.
Propping up your exhibit to show it off really helps to keep it in position. Just make sure the wedging doesn’t hide your exhibit.

4. Nomenclature
Now you’ll need the nomenclature (i.e. the plant’s full name) for your hort entry card. Look for four pieces of information: the Genus (always capitalized), the species (lower case), the ‘Cultivar’ (capitalized and in quotes) and the common name. The Genus is a group of closely related plants. A genus is divided into species, a descriptive term that narrows down the genus. A cultivar is the name of a specific plant, which narrows down the species. Using one of the milkweeds as an example: the genus is Asclepias, the species is incarnata, and the cultivar is ‘Ice Ballet’. So Asclepias incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’ is what you’d write under Botanical Name on show entry card and Milkweed is what you’d write under Common Name. ‘Ice Ballet’ is a cultivar of the native Asclepias incarnata so it is a native cultivar and should be entered in the appropriate native plant class; see step 5.
Everyone has struggled with plant nomenclature!! We all rely on sources for this
information. Good sources are certain internet sites, such as Missouri Botanical Garden http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org or davesgarden.com http:// davesgarden.com/#b, wildflower.org or Wikipedia. The textbook American Horticultural Society’s A-Z can also be used, but, since this book is older, it won’t include more recent botanical name changes. You can also ask your hort committee; we are ready to help!
It’s a good idea to keep your plant stakes which include the botanical and common name when you buy plants. However, some plant stakes get switched around at nurseries so it always pays to double check.
Please note you can download and print your Horticulture Entry Card from the SBGC website stonybrookgardenclub.com under the Horticulture section. It’s a good idea to fill out this card using pencil. That way, if any mistakes are made they can easily be erased and corrected.

5. Mark correct schedule class on your entry card
Refer to the show schedule (found in the SBGC program) and indicate the class for
your exhibit on your entry card.
For this part, you’ll also need to see if your plant is a native. SBGC uses the native plant list from the Native Plant Society which you can find here:
http:// www.npsnj.org/pages/nativeplants_Plant_Lists.html
Note on these lists, ‘N’ indicates a native plant, but the letter ‘I’ means introduced, i.e. not a native. Then check to see if schedule requires you to identify if it’s a straight native or a cultivar of a native plant (that is, a cultivated variety of a native plant). If yes, you can try Missouri Botanical Garden for help with native plants. Go to their site and see if your plant is there http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/

6. Completion of Horticulture Entry card
Remember to add your own SBGC club exhibiting number under Entry # on your entry card and to complete the details on the bottom of the card: your name, your club’s name and Zone IV location, and show name (which is ‘club show’ for our Stony Brook shows). This way your entry will be properly recorded.
For all plant exhibits, you also need to provide information on the entry card describing Growing Conditions; e.g. sun exposure, type of fertilizer used if any, if you didn’t use pesticides, type of soil, etc.
If you propagated the plant yourself (i.e. grew it from a seed, cutting or division), you should check the ‘Propagated by Exhibitor’ box on show entry card. In this case, you will also need to check the ‘Propagation Card’ box and download, print and complete the separate Propagation Card which is also found on the SBGC website under Horticulture.