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Growing and Showing Roses

by Walter LeMire


A. Fertilizing:
Roses need plenty of nourishment: several weeks prior to a show, liquid food will do them the most good - such as liquid manure or some commercial soluble crystals.

B. Watering:
Water your rose plants every week and give them an extra watering the week before the show; it helps to give nice lush foliage and long stems. Really soak them.

C. Disease and Insect Prevention:
Spray or dust your roses regularly EXCEPT the week before the show - to prevent any unnecessary burning. Be very careful in the preparation of the mixture. If dusting, be careful not to dust to heavily. Remember clean, healthy roses win ribbons.

D . Iron:
An extra feeding of iron in early June will help give your rose foliage a nice, rich green color and aids in the color of the blooms. Use Sequestrine or Greenol; Iron sulfate may also be used.

E. Early Disbudding:
Disbud at least 3 weeks prior to the show - leaves very little scarring. Be sure to leave no stumps; 1f there are any, remove with a sharp knife.
1. Hybrid Teas - must always be shown disbudded - 1 bloom per stem.
2. Grandifloras - may be shown disbudded or as naturally grown with more than 1 bloom per stem (spray class).
3. Floribundas - shown naturally grown - not disbudded; however, you can disbud the center bloom of a spray which always blooms first, well ahead of the others.
4. Hybrid Perpetuals - shown disbudded; be sure stem is in proportion to the bloom.
5. Miniatures - one bloom per stem or spray; disbudded as necessary or naturally grown - stem 3-5 inches long.
6. Single Hybrid Teas - naturally grown with or without side buds, not to exceed (12) petals per bloom. Shown fully open.
7. All other types of roses are shown naturally grown.

F. Crooked stems:
Straighten a crooked stem by fastening it to a stake, tying in 2 or 3 places. Must be done early when first noticed.


B. Get your exhibitor's number and entry tags from the show.

C. Make out your entry tags at home before going to the show.

1. This avoids confusion.
2. It saves time on the morning of the show.
3. It gives you time to double check the tags to be sure they are correct.
4. It allows more time for the last minute grooming at the show before entering your specimens.


A. What to look for on the basis of point scoring used in judging:

Form: 25 points

Colour: 20 points

Substance: 15 points

Stem & Foliage: 20 points

Balance & Proportion: 10 points

Size: 10 points

Total: 100 points

B. Form:
Roses to win must be at their greatest stage of possible beauty, which usually happens to be when they are 1/2 to 2/3 open, depending upon the variety and the number of petals involved. The best exhibition-type blooms usually have a high center surrounded by a circular arrangement of many petals.

C. Color:
The color should be clear, clean, fresh and typical of the variety exhibited.

D. Substance:
This is the quantity and quality of matter (texture, crispness, firmness, thickness and toughness) in the petals and determines the degree of stability and durability of the form and keeping quality of the rose.

E. Stem:
It should be straight and its diameter and length should be in proportion to the size of the bloom or spray. (16 to 18 inches for a single H.T. and something less for sprays).

F. Foliage:
Should be clean, healthy and the size of the leaves should be in proportion to the stem and bloom.

G. Size:
The bloom should be of normal size for the variety being exhibited.

If you bare in mind the foregoing pints about how roses are judged and point scored, you undoubtedly will be able to select better specimens right from the start.


A. Form - Split centers (divided or two centers); balled, lop-sided, bloom to tight or too open, punctured petals, malformed or misplaced petals.

B. Color- Faded, blued, refrigerator burn, thrips, spray burn or spotting; sun scald, streaks, spots or blotches.

C. Substance - Wilting, drying out of petals, petals soft, floppy, stamens folding over in single H.T.'s.

D. Stem - Too long or too short; crooked, too thick or too weak, broken thorns or scars.

E. Foliage - Sun scald, spray burn, hail damage, disease of insect damage, too small or too large leaflets, leaflets missing, poor leaf spacing.

F. Size - Too large or too small for the variety.

G. Clustered Types - Too few blooms open or else faded; too few buds, spray residue, too long or too short stem, no 5 leaflet leaf.

H. Collections - Blooms not approximately same size, variance in stem length.


A. When - Early morning or evening is the best time of day, but pick whenever you find a specimen you believe to be at the right stage.
(Hint) Cutting Stick - A length of material 16 inches long, measurement starts under the bloom; will give proper balance.

B. How - Have a container of very warm water. (NOTE) keep rose foliage from damaging one another, place roses in water immediately; later recut stems under water to prevent air, bubbles from blocking absorption of water thru the stems.

C. Label each specimen as you cut them - prevents identification errors later on.

D. Cutting H.T.'s - 3 or 4 days before, pick tighter but you must have at least 2 large petals rolled back. For many petaled blooms pick much more open. Varieties with few petals pick tight. For many petaled blooms (Uncle Joe) pick more open. It's important to know your roses and how fast or slow they open.

E. Cutting Floribundas - Should have 3 stages of bloom (buds) showing color (1/2 open bloom and fully open bloom) in inflorescence (the whole spray or cluster); foliage - have at least one five part leaf; stem in proportion. Number of flowers in cluster depends on the variety.

F. Rough Groom Foliage - Clean off spray residue, etc. Insert each specimen in wax paper cone to prevent damage from thorns, etc.

G. Refridgerate at 34-35 degrees - will harden off specimens, keeping better when exhibited. Cover entire container and specimens with a poly bag to prevent drying out or transpiration of moisture from the specimens.

H. Never place specimens in a refrigerator uncovered where apples or other fruits are stored. A gas given off by fruits is harmful to roses.

I. Specimens may be stored safely bor several days prior to showtime.

J.Make an Inventory of all specimens you have cut and are storing. It will help you in figuring out what classes you can enter.


A. Long Distances:
1. Rose carriers in refrigerator boxes.
2. Orchid tubes - layers of cotton - refrigerated boxes.
3. Dry stored - refrigerated boxes.

B. Re-Cut the stem of every specimen before you place it in the vase. After refrigeration, the end of the bloom becomes coated and black. The new cut reopens stem for the flow of water up to the bloom.

C. Schedule - suggested for entering Specimens:
1. Enter miscellaneous roses first.
2. Then enter Floribundas.
3. Next enter the Grandifloras. (These 2 classes are eligible)
4. Next enter the Hybrid Tea's. (for Queen of the show)
5. Then enter Trophy or Challenge Class Collections. (Here staging is important). Watch line-up of blooms by size.

D. Final Grooming for the Show

1. Recheck for spray residue, etc. Clean with water, detergent using kleenex, cotton, raw wool or old nylon stocking. NEVER use wax or oil or any other artificial material to shine foliage. Specimens will be disqualified.
2. Gently trim evidence of insect damage or spray burn with scissors.
3. Check blooms:
a. Remove faulty petals with a tweezer.
b. Trim any damaged petals.
c. Remove dirt from petals with camel hair brush.
d. A too tight bloom can sometimes be encouraged to open more by blowing gently with your warm breath into the center of the bloom or by gently separating the tightly furled petals with a camel hair brush.
4. Check water level in vases to be sure there's enough. Use stem cuttings to support and hold specimens up- right and firmly in the vase.
5. Recheck entry tags - be sure you have the right one on each specimen.
6. Enter your specimens in the PROPER CLASSES and ALPHABETICALLY by the name of the rose where required.

From now on your beauties are on their own and subject only to the decision of the judges. Win or lose - be a good sport. You can learn from experience. If you don't win this time, check to see what you can do to improve your entries for the next time and be sure to enter the next ROSE SHOW.

Many thanks to Walter LeMire for kind permission to reprint this article.

© The Wm.Saunders Rose Society