Roses for Exhibition – Some Last Minute Tricks
Arrangement by Pat Horbelt
- Study the various entry classes well in advance—decide on which best suits your garden inventory and concentrate on those potential candidates. You will not have time to prep entries for all show classes.
- The last liquid fertilizer you do several weeks before garden cutting show contain a very high rating of phosphate to boost bloom size and bloom production.
- Test your refrigerator temp with an average rose several days before you plan to make your rose show cuttings. If too cold, it would damager your planned exhibit cuttings – a last minute problem you can’t afford.
- Cut your exhibition entries several inches longer than you are planning for final prep – you can always cut shorter but not longer.
- If you have good garden candidates for exhibit, but they are close to thorny neighbors, either cut the neighboring roses significantly lower or tie them back from your candidates. A good breeze can shred your potential winning entry in seconds.
- If you are planning entries into the climbing rose classes, now is the time to bend the long canes to encourage new shoots which will produce blooms. Also secure the canes to avoid damage from wind whiplash.
- Try to maintain a consistently high level of plant hydration up the final cutting.
- Keep watering and black spot spraying down near the lower part of the bush, or better yet, direct all watering and spraying to the ground. Water inside the petals can discolor them and light petals may speckle with pesticide and fungus sprays. Spraying can also put your rose stem foliage at risk with burnt leaves.
- Last time to spray for pests is just before blooms show color—especially light colors. Best pest control on buds of potential winners is to cover in the evening with very light plastic baggies – but remove early in the morning to avoid heat burn.
- If significant storms are approaching within a few days of planned cutting – and blooms are showing some color, go ahead and cut early and refrigerate. However if in early bloom stage, wait until the last minute before the storm and know where your exhibit candidates are in your garden ahead of time (indentified perhaps with colored ribbons). Rushing into your garden a few minutes before a storm can be bad for your mental and physical health.
- If you have several potential winners on the same rose bush – bring several cuttings to the final prep room. A sudden problem with transportation or prep can happen and you maya still have a winning entry.
- Have as much information as possible already filled out on the entry forms a few days before taking your entries to the show. There will always be last minute prep tasks and interruptions the morning of the show. Give yourself some contingency time. Help minimize the pressure on you.
- The petal count of a rose can have significant influence on how fast its bud will open. As a general rule, the more petals the slower it will open. Also, how will its bloom open if the last days before cutting are warm or cool? Plan ahead for your cutting strategy.
- Have your disbudding strategy ready before the buds appear. Different classes call for different disbudding strategies.
- You can encourage a bloom to open faster if you gentle turn down the rose sepals – try it on a bloom now to see how to calibrate it if you need to use the technique on your potential entry later on.
- If your garden has some potential winners in the hybrid teas and grandiflora classes, stake them now for extra support. Use elastic string with a little give.
- Make entering the rose show a fun experience – everyone who enters will learn something to make their future rose growing and exhibiting skills even better.
- Bob Burrill
The Petal, September 2008