Rose Articles

Rose Show Guide -

Getting Ready for the Day

by Brenda Viney

General Information

rose show
1. Exhibiting Hours – for 2009, you have 5 1/2 hr. to stage your blooms – from 4-9:30 am - don't wait until the last hour - it might take longer than you think. As well, give yourself extra time to wander around the show room to get a better idea of what all the blooms look like when sitting on the show bench. Observe other exhibitors to get an idea of what they do, how they transport their blooms, etc. But beware...busy exhibitors don't have time to talk.

2. Exhibitor # and Entry Tag - every exhibit must have an entry tag either around the neck of the vase or in the case of a basket/box, the entry tag is to be placed beside the exhibit. You can obtain tags at our meeting or on Rose Show morning. Your name and exhibitor # can be written on the entry tag and the name of the rose or the roses. Make sure to fold over the bottom part of the tag and put the class # in the space provided. The only thing the judges should see is a class #. Do not use fancy writing on cards as judges should NOT be able to identify a bloom as a particular person's.

3. ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses - very handy for identifying which 'colour' your particular blooms fall into. There are 18 different classifications - notice that the schedule will group several colour classes together into one of our 'classes', as well, some 'classes' do not specify any particular colour. These are for sale at our meetings.

4. Number of entries - you can place an unlimited number of roses into each class (unless stated otherwise), either the same variety or different varieties.

5. The Classes – there are a huge number of “classes” you can enter in our Show. Don’t be intimidated by it all! Start out by learning the “Novice” classes and then venture out to all the other “Open” classes. There are usually 2, 3 or 4 different places you can put any particular rose – in novice and open “one stem” classes, in “multiple stem” classes, in “fully open” classes, in “bloom progression”, in fragrance etc. And be sure to try the more interesting classes like the Portrait Frames, the Floaters, the Garden Bouquets, the Minis in a Milk Can, etc.
Show Etiquette
rose show
1. Exhibiting time is precious – try not to bother another exhibitor or ask to borrow any equipment – but don’t be afraid to ask to WATCH or help place another exhibitor’s blooms.
2. An exhibitor must never touch another exhibitor's exhibit on the show bench. If there is not enough room on a table to place your bloom, you must advise the Show Chair or a member of the Staging Committee - they are the only people who can move exhibits.
3. An exhibitor should never attempt to identify him/herself by completing entry cards in coloured ink or by fancy writing.
Getting Ready for the Show
getting ready


  • should be done early in the season on all Hybrid Teas that show they are producing more than one flower bud at the end of each shoot. Use your fingers to simply nip the new little shoots out - if done when shoots are very young, the scar will heal over and not be visible to the judges.
  • on Floribundas, the large central bud and 1 or 2 of the smallest buds should be nipped out about 2 weeks before the show to encourage a more open and equal-sized blooms on show day.

Rain Shelter

  • if rain threatens the week or two prior to the show - nail a 1 or 2 gallon black pot/peat pot onto the end of a long garden stake. Hammer into the ground so the pot is about 3-5" above the bloom. Should be done when bloom starts to show colour. Can also use plastic baggies BUT they will burn the bloom if the sun comes out. Also try small novelty-type umbrella or regular ones.

Cutting the Blooms

  • When to Cut - blooms can be cut either the night before the show or the morning of the show. Sometimes the night before is best as it gives you more time to organize yourself and condition the blooms.
  • Water - before starting to cut, fill up some buckets with lukewarm water (about 100 F) and take them with you into the garden along with your secateurs. Some people put 50% Sprite and 50% water, others one teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of bleach to a quart of lukewarm water or simply Floralife. You can choose what to use. ALSO, take another smaller pail with warm water to use for cutting stems (see below)
  • Neck Tags - walk through your garden to pick out the blooms you want to cut. Write the rose name on neck tags and attach them to the bloom before you cut so you remember which rose it is!!! Remember to REMOVE THE NECK TAG before placing entry in the show – put the name on the entry tag.
  • Cutting Stems - cut as long a stem as you can and remember that you can cut a ‘secondary’ stem down into the ‘main’ stem to make it longer – the join of the 2 stems should be BELOW the vase lip for most modern roses and can be ABOVE the vase lip for Old Garden Roses and Shrub Roses!!
  • Foliage Removal - remove the leaves that will be below the vase line and use the side of your secateurs for rubbing off the tips of the thorns.
  • Cutting Stems Under Water - this step is the single most important step in "conditioning" your blooms. When stems are cut from the bush, they draw in air and begin to make pockets which, when they reach the bloom, cause the blossom to nod prematurely. After cutting your bloom, put the stem end in the small pail and re-cut the stem under the water - cut 1/4" off at an angle and then remove from water and place in your large pail of lukewarm water.
  • Hardening Off Your Blooms - once your pails are full of blooms, make sure your water level is at least half way up the stems...put pails in a cool, dark spot (basement) for 3-4 hours or overnight. This ensures the blooms and stems have 'hardened' to the point of maximum water retention.
  • Consulting the Schedule - as you cut each bloom, write the name of the bloom next to the class in the schedule you intend it to enter. OR, write the names of your blooms on a sheet of paper and spend the evening figuring out which classes they can be entered in.
  • GROOMING – see below for details on cleaning up your blooms – this can easily be done the night before the show if you have time.
On the Day of the Show

rose show

Travelling - be sure to keep all your blooms in water while travelling to the show. Exhibitors have devised many useful ways of transporting their blooms - in 1 and 2 litre milk cartons all inside a box or tub; in 1 lb. coffee tins or juice tins; minis fit well inside plastic margarine/yogurt containers; some of us simply use pails that we pack quite tightly with blooms so they can't move around too much.

Kit to Take to Show - pack a little bag or box with the following necessities:

  • Show Schedule
  • Tweezers
  • Secateurs
  • Pen/pencil
  • Dress sock
  • soft fabric
  • nylon
  • Container for water
  • Paper towel or old towel
  • Handbook for Selecting Roses
  • Entry card
  • elastic bands
  • Nail & large scissors
  • Paint brush
  • Sponge or dish cloth
  • Watering can
  • Towels (to clean up spills and tables)
Arriving at the Show – drive along the “east” side of the NEW Convention Centre, around to the “back” or “waterside” of the hall. There will be delivery doors and parking spots where you can unload your car. Then you will have to move your car to the underground parking lot. Find a spot at the set-up tables and bring in your roses. Locate the Show Registration desk to pick up entry tags and locate where the vases are – most vases will already be filled with water for your convenience. Fill up your watering can and small margarine container with water from the large garbage cans of water and head back to your set-up spot. Calculate how many and what 'letter' vases you need - obtain them and some Styrofoam wedging and then you're ready to start "grooming".

Grooming: (can be done at home the night before show OR on Rose Show morning)

Q-tips - Look for any hybrid tea blooms that you feel maybe aren't out quite full enough - set in vase (cutting stem a little if necessary to make a balanced look). Using your Q-tips, gently push some down in between the petals to try to convince them to open out a little more for you. Leave these blooms until the end (be sure to remove ALL Q-tips before setting on show tables!!!). You can also use your paint brush to brush the backs of the outer petals so they curl and reflex a little and open a little wider.

  1. Vases - NOTE - the schedule simply 'suggests' certain vases be used - if you feel a vase is too small for your particular bloom, you can select a larger vase. If necessary, cut some of the stems UNDER WATER to make a pleasing balance of vase/bloom/stem. If stem is a little too short, you can use a piece of Styrofoam provided by the society to hold the bloom higher in the vase (the stem end won't be touching the bottom of vase). As well, you can use the Styrofoam to wedge against the stem (again, just under the rim) to help slightly drooping blooms stand more erect! YOU WILL BE PENALIZED IF YOUR WEDGING MATERIAL STICKS OUT FROM THE TOP OF THE VASE...SO BE CAREFUL WITH IT!
  2. Removing unsightly petals - the small outside “guard” petals are sometimes streaked and torn (they are located at the top of the stem, under all the other petals) - these should be removed carefully with your fingers by rocking back and forth until they snap cleanly away at the base.
  3. Cleaning foliage - use your sponge and clean water to clean ALL the leaves on your blooms. After they have dried, try polishing them up with the sock or nylon or soft fabric. Do NOT use any leaf shine products.
  4. Small scissors - small imperfections in the leaves or petals can be cut out carefully with your small scissors. Leaves can be trimmed following the rounded shape of the leaf.
  5. Brushing - (use this technique as you become more familiar with exhibiting) - using a very soft, small, square tipped, ½ -1" wide watercolour paint brush...softly stroke the inside of petals near their bases and coax them into opening wider, OR, brush the backs of the outer petals to make them curl and reflex back.
  6. Label your Blooms - wipe any water from vases, be sure that if you have used a neck tag on the bloom to remove this prior to putting the entry into the show. Each entry MUST have an entry tag COMPLETE with your name, exhibitor # , class #, and MAKE SURE THE BOTTOM OF THE TAG IS FOLDED OVER SO ONLY THE CLASS NUMBER AND NAME OF THE ROSE IS SHOWING. Now write down which rose you are placing into which class so you know where to look when you come back to visit the Rose Festival.
  7. Placement Committee – for the 2009 Rose Show, we will have a committee of people placing all your blooms onto the show tables – you simply have to bring them to the placement table and we’ll do the rest for you!
Please note – no one but Judges and Clerks are allowed in the show room once judging begins.
Suggestion: On paper with 4 columns, list the names of your roses in column A, list the type of each rose in column B (hybrid tea, shrub, OGR, etc.), use the ARS Handbook to determine the colour classification in column C. Then, with schedule and list in hand, sit down and determine which of your roses will fit into the classes and write the class numbers in column D.
Finally, tour your garden several days prior to the show to see which roses you feel might be ready to show in those classes.