Cym. Rocky Creek 'Gotcha' AM/AOS B/CSA Fire Storm 'Miki' HCC/AOS B/CSA Lorenara Pixie Grooming

Revised: 10/23/2008

Grooming Cymbidiums and other orchids for Show

Photographs and more detailed instructions will be added to this section in the future.

Getting your plants ready to show is important, and it is not difficult at all. The appearance of the plant is a factor in several of the plant categories for CSA award judging, and may affect the opinion of AOS and ribbon judges as well.

We start grooming plants at least a month or more before the show. I select the plants I think might be suitable for the show and make sure the spikes can develop without interference from surrounding plants and leaves. A Cymbidium spike caught under a leaf for even a few days will have a permanent kink and will not look as nice for that reason. For plants which are to have upright spikes, make sure the spike is growing upright, not off toward the edge of the pot. I will place a stake in the pot next to the spike, and encourage it to grow in the proper direction with a twist tie, or use a loop of telephone wire around the stake and spike and move it up slowly so the spike doesn't break by bending too much at one time. Keep insects and snails or slugs away with fervor. It only takes one bite to ruin a flower for judging. For white or green flowers which are prone to sunstaining, it is advisable to increase the shade for the plant. The color of the white or green flower will usually be much cleaner when it opens without that dark streak on the petals or sepals caused by too much sunlight.

When the spike has hardened up to the first flower , usually several weeks before the flowers open, we will tie the spike between the first and second flower, and leave it to develop in the normal graceful arch. The spike can be tied up to the tip, but that gives the appearance of a weak spike and the judges will probably score a plant lower if the ties are left on. The spike can be tied up to the tip for transportation, but remove the upper ties before the show judging starts. Again, keep the spike away from the leaves or adjacent plants. Check to make sure all the buds are free to develop and open. Sometimes a bud will start to develop so that it is trapped in toward the spike by the stems of adjacent buds. We move these buds so the trapped bud is free to develop normally.

The judges like clean plants. A cymbidium plant looks a lot nicer if the old dried leaf bases are removed from the plant. A bare backbulb looks nicer than the bulb with all the leaf bases left on. Pull any weeds or oxalis which may be growing in the pot.. Just before the show, we like to clean the leaves to get rid of dust and water spots. We use a solution of about 25% milk in water, and just wipe both the top and bottom of each leaf. This not only removes the dust and helps to get rid of minor water spots, but it also imparts a mild glossy finish to the leaves. Just before the show, we will trim any dead leaftips to improve the appearance. We also remove any yellow or dying leaves completely.

The last thing we do before taking a plant to show is to cover the buds and flowers with a plastic garment or garbage bag. This prevents the flowers from moving leaves during transit and helps to ensure the flowers arrive at the show in judging condition.

Loren Batchman
February 1999