(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 30, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

The Horticulture Division of a Standard Flower Show is divided into several different sections. Within each section are classes. Sections are stated in the Flower Show Schedule that has been published. The Schedule is the "law of the show," and all exhibitors are bound by these laws. Therefore, the first step in entering a Standard Flower Show is to request a copy of the Schedule.

When you obtain a copy of the Schedule, read it through carefully. It contains such necessary information as the location of the show, the times when horticulture specimens can be entered, when judging is to take place, when it is open to the public, and when the show is to be dismantled. The Schedule announces all sections and classes as well as rules which govern all exhibits in each division. There are general rules, horticulture division rules, and design division rules. Every Schedule is different, but horticulture rules for my club's flower show are in a chart below and will give you an idea of what to expect.

Before you bring your exhibit to the show, you will know what kind of specimens are accepted, how they are to be staged, how long it should have been in your possession, and other pertinent facts. You will know whether the show committee provides bottles for your cut specimens or if you are expected to bring your own. You will know which awards are being offered, and depending on the schedule, other useful information.

Most Standard Flower Shows have many sections, but almost all of the plants that I can think of can fit in one of these sections:

Section A: Cut flowers of annuals

Section B: Cut flowers of herbaceous biennials and/or perennials

Section C: Cut flowers or bracts of bulbs, rhizomes, corms, and tubers

Section D: Cut decorative foliage

Section E: Arboreal (fresh cut branches or containers of evergreen or

deciduous shrubs or trees grown for the beauty of foliage, flowers, fruit, or cones)

Section F: Combination Plantings

Section G. Container-Grown Plants

Section H: Collections and Displays

In addition, a flower show committee may wish to have sections for special groups of plants, such as roses, daffodils, camellias, succulents, bromeliads, etc. Even though these fit into one of the categories above, there may be enough of them to warrant having their own section.

In subsequent articles, I will go more into depth about each of the sections listed above. NGC has very specific definitions as to what constitutes appropriate specimens in each division. For instance, a dish garden may mean something different to each person, but NGC defines it specifically, and failing to know the definition can result in points being taken from your exhibit.

Horticulture Rules
  1. All plant material must be fresh and have been grown by the exhibitor.
  2. All plants must have been in the exhibitor's possession at least 90 days prior to show (combination plantings for at least six weeks).
  3. Entry cards should be filled out in advance (if possible), with water-proof ink or pencil. Entry cards can be obtained from the Flower Show Chairman.
  4. Containers should not exceed 12" wide or tall (inside measurement). Use saucer underneath container to prevent leakage.
  5. Each entry is to be labeled by its binomial name or currently accepted scientific identification. Common name may also be given. Solicit help from the Classification Committee prior to the show if necessary.
  6. Cut specimens must be displayed in clear transparent bottles (provided by the exhibitor) of suitable size and stability.
  7. Wedge if needed (inconspicuously insert a small piece of material such as a sprig of evergreen, a bit of wood, or piece of celery in neck of a horticultural exhibit bottle to hold cut specimen in proper pose).
  8. Classification Committee has the authority to subdivide classes as necessary.
  9. Clean and groom all plants and be sure that they are free from disease, insects, and spray residue. Be sure that leaves and trash have been removed from surface of soil.
  10. Use plain, unadorned containers. In no instance should the container detract from the plant being displayed. Double pot if desired, being sure that the inner pot is not visible.
  11. All horticulture must be of excellent quality. The Horticulture Classification Committee may refuse to display below standard specimens or material that has been oiled or dressed.
  12. No accessories are permitted in the Horticulture Section (Exception: DishGardens and Terrariums). Unobtrusive staking is permitted where needed, but training mechanics must be removed.
  13. Plant stands will be provided for hanging or draping plants. Hangers should be removed.