Exhibiting Your Primula Plants



By Judy Sellers

We encourage everyone to share the beauty of their plants with others by showing them. You do not need to be a member of the APS or the New England Chapter to bench plants either for judging or display at our show, and novice exhibitors are always welcome. We all feel shy about putting our own plants on public view, but there is no need to hesitate. In fact, it is easy to bring plants, see if they look suitable compared to others, and then either hide them discreetly under a bench or place them proudly on top with an exhibitor’s tag on the pot. Even plants with one or two open flowers at packing-up time may decide to bloom profusely by judging time.  There will be a benching consultant available to help with any last minute adjustments to your plant.

The first task is to assess all your Primulaceae (anything such as cyclamen, dodecatheon, etc. in the genus Primula) for potential a couple of weeks  or even a few days prior to the show. If you have  ‘Show’ varieties, special hybrids, or species plants growing in pots, you probably already know how to make them develop to their best potential by the show date, and simply need to clean off dead leaves and flowers and put the most likely plants into clean, suitably sized round, green or terra cotta colored pots (of either plastic or clay), water well, make a note of the species or cultivars, and escort them very carefully to the show venue.

If your plants are growing in the garden, or in troughs, so much the better! This is a fine time to lift, clean, and divide them. Reserve the best to pot up and ‘dress’ for showing, and share or return the rest to the garden. Except for the Exhibitor’s class, where 5 plants share a container, we exhibit only individual plants that are pleasing to look at, healthy and fresh, with at least 3 open flowers. It is a good idea to pot up a few more plants than you plan to show, as some will grow better than you hoped and others will not meet your standards. It is not necessary to have unusual or exotic Primulas, as many well grown ‘cowslips’ have deservedly won blue ribbons.

The grooming process is very simple: lift the whole plant, gently shake off excess earth if necessary (being sure to remove visible living creatures such as earth worms or slugs), and if it is large, divide it for balance and pot size. Some people remove dead leaves while the plants are out of their pots, others wait until they are firmed in. Whichever way you prefer is fine. Old flowers, misshapen or damaged leaves, and visible bits of soil should be carefully removed. Firmly set the clean plant into good fresh potting mix, label and water. It is best to have an attractive environment for your plant, so dirty pots or plants set too deeply or off center in their pots are to be avoided. Your name should be on the bottom of every pot. The top of the pot should be tidy, and the surface may be covered with a thin layer of grit, peat, green moss, fine bark, or other natural medium to keep plants from drying out too quickly while on display. Clear plastic saucers will be provided at the show to fit under each plant for neatness and uniformity. Help with filling out benching cards and deciding which class is best suited to your plants will be available during the benching times.

Without a good variety of plants, no flower show is very impressive, and your elation after winning a Trophy Certificate, Blue Ribbon, or better yet an APS Rosette, for something you grew is well worth a bit of effort — so come on — fix up a few pots and bring your plants to show and share!

For more information on Showing Plants, see our Section on Showing