Our photo shows a great potential show plant! It's got great symmetry, it's clean and in the right size pot.... there may only be a few older leaves in the outer row that we should think about removing.
Good so far! What's next?
I always am checking plants for suckers, which are little plants usually at the base, and I remove them immediately. If a plant has a sucker in a show, judges can eliminate the plant from judging it. It would be a shame to have a beautiful plant and not receive a ribbon simply because of a sucker.
Our picture shows a "sucker" or a new baby plant growing out of the center. Note the two smaller leaves under the larger ones at the base of the stem.
I will also consider whether to enter a plant that has a real thick flower stalk. After a plant with a thick stalk blooms it will distort the center leaves so the plant will need a year or two for the middle leaves to grow out to the outer edge of the plant because they will be marred. Speaking of marred leaves, do not hesitate in entering a plant with a marred leaf or a couple of marred leaves. Only one point is deducted for each marred leaf!
About the last week before a show, if a plant is starting to be in full bloom, I will move it to a cooler spot to slow it down a little, or visa versa if it isn't blooming enough. Basically, you should have 20-25 blooms for a large standard, 10-20 for a semi, and 6-12 for a mini. However, if you are a blossom short, enter it anyhow. Not that many points will be deducted.
Beginners will sometimes want to leave on spent blossoms but you can loose mega points (1/2 point per spent blossom) for doing that. I remove blossoms if they are even starting to fade because malls are hard on plants. There are cold drafts and dry air and the blossoms tend to fade more quickly there.
Our photo is showing a blossom that is getting brown edges. The flower is all but spent and although a pretty color, it should be removed.
Before I email my list to the entry person, I review each plant to make sure that it looks like the description in First Class. Is it variegated, a semi, a mini, does it have an edge, is it the right color, etc.? If you don't have the First Class program, don't know what some of the terms like "an edge" means, or have any questions on how to enter a plant, call one of the Sr. members (please don't call us old) for help.
So all you novices, my advice is to try it. Enter the show! It's scary and confusing at times, but remember every single grower in the show went through the novice stage of entering shows. It's not a requirement to enter in that class, but it's a class that the judges will look at the plant a little gentler and may make more comments on the entry tags. The comments are a great way to find out how to make adjustments and grow an even more lovely plant next time. Never, but never, try to guess what a judge sees. Remember, they only look at a plant for maybe a minute and may not even see a problem.
A large THANK YOU to Sharon Johnson for sharing this article.