Lou Pavlovich on Exhibiting


Original post by Lisa Bunker, ed. 2014 by Judith Singer

Wow, Lou is hardcore. His methods have produced winning roses over and over (and over), but we encourage new exhibitors to not be overwhelmed and feel like they must do all of this to win. Take from his tips what makes sense to you and see what works for yourself, with your own roses, and your own techniques. The tips Lou repeated over and over were:

  1. have great roses,
  2. keep them cool and well-hydrated,
  3. read the schedule,
  4. and get there early. Good advice!

Supplies in Lou’s Rose Show toolbox

  • A copy of the rose show schedule for the areas you are entering. See the “Events” tab for the current schedule.
  • Q-tips (for loosening tightly furled roses into proper “exhibition stage” form)
  • Very sharp, clean pruning shears; Lou recommends Felco #2 bypass pruners
  • Floralife flower food, a preservative used in water. Packets are available from Roses & More.
  • Tags, pre-filled-out, or a list of your roses. Please note that the official source for rose names, classes and spelling are ARS books like Modern Roses 12 or the Combined Rose List. If you don’t own these, don’t worry, the Rose Society will have someone on hand at the show to help.
  • a small piece of soft flannel (for polishing leaves)
  • a paintbrush (for gently removing aphids, etc.)

Rose Show preparation

  • Recommends you read Bob Martin’s book, Showing Good Roses (unfortunately, now out of print)
  • Keep your pruners well-sharpened. A good, sharp blade is best because clean cuts help roses last longer in water. Lou sharpens 2x a year, and uses the methods explained in Razor’s Edge Book of Sharpening book.
  • Crop Production Services on Highway Drive is a good local source for pruners and pruning supplies
  • Rose holding containers: use a milk carton or drainage tubing from Naughton plumbing. Make sure containers are sterile by rinsing and sponging with a mild bleach solution. Rinse well.

When you cut your roses for the show

  1. Look for roses that show good rose form, but are still a little tight. For spray roses like floribundas, look for a straight stem and a circular or balanced spray.
  2. Label them right away so you don’t get them mixed up.
  3. Bring them inside and gently clean the foliage. Don’t get the blooms wet unless you want to clean off water spots later!
  4. Use Floralife flower food in about 4 inches of cool water. Roses & More will sell you packets.
  5. Re-cut the stems under water — just trim a little bit off.
  6. Place in cool, humid storage at 35 degrees.
    • If you have an old old fashioned refrigerator (not frost-free), this is the best place to store roses. Modern fridges will dry your roses out. Put tub of water in bottom of fridge for added humidity.
    • If have modern fridge, put a baggy over the bloom to seal humidity in, and gently seal with a rubber band.
  • Don’t cut before Wednesday for a Saturday show.

Grooming & tagging

  • Get a lightweight fishing box for supplies (see list above)
  • Make your tags ahead of time
  • Need to open petals? Use Q-tips, aiming for perfect center (get there early!)
  • You are allowed to pull off spotted or wind-damaged guard petals, but do it gently, watching for symmetry
  • Shine foliage? Yes, but stay within rules — no foreign substances. A small piece of flannel works beautifully.
  • A deckle edge scissor can be used to trim wind-damaged leaves
  • Stem on stem? Usually no. You can’t have a stem branching from another stem on a modern rose. Check the schedule, but it is usually OK with old garden roses.

How to put in vase?

  • Stand the rose up straight, and wedge with old foliage or Styrofoam (but check the schedule to see what’s allowed!). Whatever materials you use, it should not stick up above the edge of the container.
  • The stem does not have to rest on bottom of vase, but cut your stems as long as possible
  • The portion of the rose showing above the lip of the vase should be in proportion to the height of the vase. You don’t have to display every inch of your lovely straight stems.

Thanks Lou! Great presentation!

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