“Horticulture is the science and art of cultivating plants – flowers, fruits, vegetables, trees and shrubs. From its inception, National Garden Clubs (NGC) has emphasized horticulture and it educational value to the community through Standard Flower Shows. All who participate are provided an opportunity to exhibit and view well grown, well groomed, correctly identified, fresh plant material.” Handbook for Flower Show, revised 2007

Choosing a horticulture specimen for exhibiting at a flower show does not begin on the day before the show begins. Planning weeks or months in advance may help to produce a show-stopping entry. Plants grown from seed or even transplants take time to mature and be at their best for a show. A thorough review of the flower show schedule provides information on the types of horticulture entries allowed in an individual show. For any show, all horticulture entries MUST follow certain requirements.

  1. Grown by the exhibitor
  2. Possessed by the exhibitor for at least 90 days – individual specimen
  3. Grown together for at least 6 weeks – combination plantings
  4. May not be altered (treated) with products that may artificially change the natural color and/or texture

Preparing an entry

All entries in flower shows are judged against “perfection” with a starting score of 100 points. Imperfections, or faults, cause points to be removed. Plants or cut specimens are grown and groomed to create the best possible entry. Techniques to consider when preparing an entry for horticulture exhibiting include the following.


  1. Disbud (remove extra buds) to allow plants energy to create one special bloom – requires advance planning
  2. Remove spent leaves and blooms
  3. Select specimen at peak bloom time
  4. Condition cut specimen – general info, some plant require special conditioning
    1. Water plant in morning
    2. Cut in late afternoon or evening
    3. Cut with sharp knife or scissors
    4. Place cut stem into tepid water
    5. Store in cool, dark, draft-free location for several hours or overnight
    6. Cut stem, again, just before exhibiting
  5. Clean container of potted specimens
  6. Remove debris and tidy soil surface
  7. Complete horticulture entry card
    1. Botanical name – Genus species cultivar
    2. Common name
    3. From schedule – Division, Section, Class, Entry number (assigned by entry chair)