Showing To Win

Culture:  Fertilize as lilies are heavy feeders; treat for botrytis before it gets going and stake promising lilies so the stems are straight!

Read the show schedule carefully and enter as many classes as possible.

Check stems in the garden before cutting; use the criteria in the prize list the judges do!

Cut stems in bud (buds just showing some colour) 3 to 4 days in advance of the show; and store in a cool basement or moist cooler. Add floral preservative to the water. Remove 12 hours before leaving for the show to encourage more bloom. The pre-cutting and storing allows one to exhibit stems that may otherwise be past their prime the day of the show.

Transporting stems with flowers open is difficult but it can be done for our local show:

(1) at one time Bert Porter suggested laying cut stems across the car seat on a foam pad, and once at the show cut a fresh portion of the stem and place the stem in water to revive;
(2) another way is to place each stem in a bottle of water then place the bottles in a box; or
(3) place stems in a bucket of damp sand or perlite.

If transporting stems to a distant show wilt them first, then pack the stems in a modestly flat cardboard box. Cut the stems when in bud (bud just showing some colour), lay the stem on a smooth surface and let it wilt (this may take from 4 to 24 hours). They may look terrible but they are ready for packing into cartons. Insulate the carton, foam peanuts work very well, carefully lay in stems intertwining two side by side, wrap any vulnerable parts and create layers. Do not wrap the stems in polythene or waxed paper.

When removing stems on arrival take care - pedicels are weak, buds are heavy and pedicels can easily break! Cut an inch off the bottom of the stem and stand the stems in containers of lukewarm water. Be sure that stems of down-facing lilies stand straight up during the recovery time or the flowers will become lopsided as the stem lean on an angle.

Grooming is important - cut off, remove, clean, anything that detracts from the stem. Wipe each leaf clean to remove dust and spray residue, remove spilled pollen with a dry Q-tip or camel's hair brush, trim any brown leaf edges retaining the natural shape of the leaf and remove any misplaced secondary buds.

Staging properly will enhance the appearance of the stem. Trim a tall, ungainly stem; raise a short stem; and anchor stem(s) at the top of the vase with a piece of rhubarb; and remove leaves below the waterline in the vase. Fill out the entry tag correctly and completely.

Tools are essential for grooming! So what is in the tool kit or bag?

  • Cuticle cutter for trimming leaf edges;
  • scissors for larger reshaping jobs;
  • camel's hair brush (equivalent) to remove pollen;
  • knife to trim stems;
  • Q tips;
  • white cotton handkerchief;
  • tweezers these are all for hard to reach places;
  • green florists' tape, super glue, straight pins all for repairing broken parts;
  • rubber name stamp or pre-printed name labels to save time filling out entry cards;
  • elastic bands for tight entry cards;
  • and a green ink marking pen.

The super glue can be used to repair a broken part, the straight-pins to splice a broken pedicel and green ink can in a pinch blot a small botrytis spot.

written by Margaret Driver, taken from the CPLS Newsletter