Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Entering You Plant in a Show, part 1

Entering plants in a show is the fun part of growing African violets. Maybe you bought a leaf grew it out and now it is a fully-grown plant, or maybe you purchased a small plant and now it is large enough to show the world all its beauty. Now what exactly do you do?

What should you look for right now, with a month or more till the show? Check all of your plants to see which ones might make a good entry in a show. How do you know? What do you look for? The foliage should lay straight out from the center of the plant to the edge of the outer leaves. Each row should overlap the row below without gaps or spaces in the rows or between the individual leaves in a row. Preliminarily grooming the plants for a show is very important too and actually is quite easy. You want to take care of most of the large grooming chores at this point. Most beginners hate to remove leaves, even the baby ones and the yellow ones. But nice symmetry is important so when in doubt, remove them! If there is dust or hair on the leaves, use a soft facial brush and gently sweep it away. Better to do these things now than when there is a chance of ruining a leaf right before the show.

This photo shows some of the larger problems you'll want to deal with. There is cat hair on the leaves to the left. Use a make-up brush and gently remove it, or better yet give the plant a bath in tepid water. The red flag shows us a huge potential problem! The plant is in full bloom more than a month before the show. Those flowers should have been removed prior to now so that the plant has fresh blooms for the show! The blue flag shows a folded, broken leaf. Remove that and the one marked with purple. That one is ripped. The yellow flag shows baby (tiny) leaves in the outer rows. It's best to remove them now so that the rest of the mature leaves will fill in the voids.

When I am first deciding which plants to enter, I review each plant as a possible entry. If it is less than 8" in diameter and it is a standard plant, I do not consider entering it because it needs to grow up a few more months. If you are entering a semi it should not be more than 8" in diameter and a mini can't be more than 6" in diameter. If the plant is just a bit too large the outer row of leaves can be removed to help keep the plant in its proper category. The size of the pot doesn't matter for semis or minis, but the standard's leaf span should be 3x (times) the diameter of the pot. If I do have to repot a plant, I never repot a plant until the 4th week before a show. If I do it earlier, the plant will not be root-bound and may not bloom.

This photo shows us that some plants just need more time to grow. Picking the proper sized pot is necessary but very easy!

After I've decided on which plants to enter in a show, I write out a list and for the time being I ignore the schedule which describes all the classes and sections. At this point don't worry about entering more than one plant in a class.

This photo shows our volunteer contemplating all the different classes she'll be entering her plants in. She's holding the schedule which is good to have handy even all these weeks before the show! It's helpful to know what the designs will be so that you have time to plan for them!

The next part of "Entering Your Plant in a Show" will review what to do a little closer to the show! Stay tuned.

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