Picture this: You’re walking down the aisles of competition entries at your favorite flower show. You pass so many beautiful orchids that it leaves you in awe. Phalaenopsis with dozens of pale yellow blooms spilling down along graceful budspikes. Cattleyas like fireworks of yellow, red, and pink bursting from a massive group of pseudobulbs. They’re beautiful…and maybe you can’t get it out of your head that some of your orchids look just as nice.
But you’d never consider entering an orchid into a flower show. You’re just an amateur and you definitely can’t enter that $8 orchid you picked up from a home improvement store three years ago.
But why shouldn’t you?
Barb wrote an article for the American Orchid Society’s Orchids magazine this month that demystifies orchid competitions. She first started entering orchids into the Philadelphia International Flower Show 9 years ago. Her first entry was a Baldan’s Kaleidoscope Phalaenopsis that absolutely refused to stop flowering. After nearly a year of continuously flowers, Barb finally took the hint and figured why not? It took a bit of work to enter the orchid and prep it for the competition, but the day before the show opened, we drove that orchid down to Philly for the competition.
That Phalaenopsis turned out to be Barb’s first blue ribbon - in the Novice class, of course. But, it was still an incredibly exciting experience. It wasn’t even my orchid and I was thrilled to see people—complete strangers—taking pictures of her winning orchid.
I entered an orchid of my own a few years later and got my first blue ribbon. Since then, Barb and I have entered a couple other orchids with some hits and some misses. We don’t do it competitively, but if we have an orchid that looks nice when the Philly Flower Show rolls around, we’ll enter it.
We’ll admit that it can be overwhelming and confusing to enter an orchid into a show, so take a minute to check out Barb’s article for some inspiration and tips for being a competitive orchid enthusiast.
Along with some words of encouragement, Barb’s article addresses topics like:
Keep an eye out for her article on the mysterious and alluring Vanilla orchid in next month’s Orchids issue!
Jen Schmidt is a PhD graduate from Cornell University who, with the help of her mother (Barb), is turning into a crazy plant lady at a young age.