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Showing flowers at the fair

Tips to get that blue ribbon entry

If you take pride in growing beautiful flowers, exhibit them at the county or state fair. You don’t have to be an expert in floral design, just select your best possible specimens at the time of harvest for exhibit.

Skyler Brasel is an FFA floriculture showmanship judge at the Iowa State Fair. He says foliage is ok, but there shouldn’t be a lot of leaves on your display for several reasons.

"The foliage will actually transpire making it wilt faster. Some foliage is fine, so like roses you might want to keep a few to help it stay out of the water. You don’t want your foliage touching the water either, so you want to keep the stem only in the water," says Brasel. "A lot of people use wood sticks or some floral foam to keep them out of the water."

Flowers are given points for how close they are to perfection. If you’re showing an arrangement of three or more flowers, make sure each flower is the same size and quality. If it’s only a single flower, it should be uniform with itself. That means it has all its petals, isn’t torn, or bending.

Brasel says sometimes it’s the little things that will dock points.

"Flowers that are wilting, for sure, especially, like gladiolus. They all might be really great but the older ones at the very bottom might be starting to wilt and they might not look the best. For roses, too much foliage can be really bad," he says. "And then you also have, if the pollen’s on the leaf it can make discoloration."

Right after cutting and before you bring them to the fair, refrigerate your flowers in water in a cool, dark place at about 40-degrees Fahrenheit, and add a floral preservative.

Some flower shows might require a specific type of container. If nothing is specified in the rules, use a simple container that doesn’t distract from the flowers. Clear, narrow-necked bottles and jars work well.

Learn more about best practices for showing flowers at the fair

Tips for floral judges

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