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Canberra Orchid Society

Annual Spring Orchid Show

2023 Show
Show Schedule and Definitions
Plant Registration for the Show
Plant Sales
Am I a novice grower?
Preparing your orchids for the Show
Judging orchids slide show
What Judges look for
Show Results Previous years
Show Trophies (historical)

2023 Show

Results of the 2022 Show are in the November-December edition of the Bulletin.

The Society's 2023 Annual Spring Orchid Show is planned to be held in the

Upstairs Function Rooms
Ainslie Football Club
52 Wakefield Av

on Saturday, 16 September, 10am - 5pm
and Sunday, 17 September, 10am - 3pm.

The show is an opportunity to view many exotic and native orchids, mostly grown by society members, in full bloom.
The show will include plant and product sales from several commercial growers/suppliers:

    • Johnston's Orchids (native and exotic orchids)
    • Sim's Orchids (cymbidiums)
    • Orchid Species Plus (wide range of species)
    • South Pacific Hydroponics (orchid growing supplies)
    • as well as plant sales by society members.

There will be demonstrations of repotting orchids and the opportunity to talk to Society members so you can learn how to care for your orchids to have them flower over many years.

The second edition of our book Growing Orchids in Cool Climate Australia will be on sale.

Light refreshments will be available in the Show area or full meals are available in the clubs dining areas downstairs, so come along, relax and admire the many fabulous orchids in full flower.

Admission: $5, no concessions.

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2023 Show Sponsors

Sponsors will be listed here

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Show Schedule and Definitions

information will be here closer to the show.

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Plant Registration

Registration details will be available here.

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Plant Sales

Information on procedures for plant sales will be here.

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What is a Novice Grower?

Novice growers can be entered in displays (Section A) or as individual plants (Section C). Section C is open only to financial members of the Orchid Society of Canberra, residing within 50 km of the ACT. In Section C, 'Novice' shall mean any exhibitor until they have won in an aggregate of first prizes in any 3 sub-sections at any Orchid Show or Shows, but they shall cease to be a novice in respect of each sub-section in which they win a first prize. The exhibitor shall remain a novice until the end of the calendar year in which they win their third first prize, but shall cease to be a novice in respect of a particular sub-section in which they have won their first prize.

If you want to check your novice/open status go to the Member page.

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Preparing your orchids for the Show


First, make sure that the plant is clean, and that you have removed unsightly dead leaves and bracts. This first step makes a big difference to the way a plant appears. If the plant has dusty or dirty leaves you may want to wash them. Hold the leaf firmly by the base with one hand to make sure you don't pull it off altogether, and gently wash the leaf using a soft cloth. Popular techniques include using a mixture of water and milk or just plain water. NOTE. This technique should not be used on species that have a natural waxy bloom on leaves such as many brassavolas, Kolopternix (Epidendrum) sophronitis, or Encyclia citrina.

Make sure that the plant is in a clean pot: if the pot is dirty you may want to try cleaning it, or you may find it easier to double pot the plant into a second container. This can be quite decorative, and a number of our members use a variety of decorative pots and containers.

Next, please check your plants for all manner of pests and diseases. Every year the Show Marshals have the unhappy task of disqualifying the odd plant for suspected disease or infestation. It is in everyone's best interests to make sure that their plants are free of all insects and other pests. An orchid show offers a rich opportunity for all manner of nasty creatures to colonise new plants and display their maleficent claw and mandible work.

Make sure your plants are labelled clearly and legibly: the public (and other growers) want to know what plants you are showing. Whilst the good old faded plastic tag might be enough in your greenhouse, the judges need to have plants clearly identified. Write out a new tag with the plant's name IN FULL, that is write Brassolaeliocattleya rather than Blc. Also make sure that the plant has a tag with your name concealed under the pot or inside the pot: this helps avoid confusion later on.

If the plant is normally hung or suspended in your growing area it is your responsibility to ensure that the plant is appropriately staged. Some members have created a variety of stands for their plants: all you need is something that will display the plant to its best advantage. This is particularly important for plants with trailing or hanging flowers.

Staking is one of those tasks that should commence (but rarely does) early in the development of the flower spike. If staking is left too late the results can look rather peculiar, as flowers can be twisted out of position. To a large extent staking is now at the individual's discretion. The judges have the right to remove the stake if they so wish. As a general aesthetic comment, be sensible with your staking, and try to keep the stake shorter than the raceme of flowers it supports: this avoids the unsightly phenomenon of the 'tomato stake syndrome', a rich and varied forest of stakes, with the occasional flower.

By all means, use additional stakes and ties to help support your flowers and racemes while you transport them to the Show but remove the 'transport stakes' once you have the plant safely benched.

Water your plants well the day before you bring them in because it will not be possible to thoroughly water them for the duration of the Show.


The display categories allow people to express their creativity. For those that haven't tried a display before, these notes may help you have a go.

What makes a good display? There are 3 key elements: quality flowers, a pleasing, balanced design, and attention to the finishing detail.

1. Good quality, clean flowers on clean and healthy plants are the starting point, as for all plants in a show. Make sure they are staked properly so that they show to their best advantage.

2. There are several things to consider with design.

a. Consider incorporating a focal point — usually your best flower(s).

b. Try to achieve balance in the display. This doesn't mean that it has to be strictly symmetrical, but from a distance, the display should appear stable, not top-heavy or strongly weighted to one side. Sometimes the 'weightiness' is more about strength of colour than size or quantity of flowers.

c. Cohesion is important — are all the elements of the display needed and in harmony?

d. Use of negative space can be very effective. Displays can easily be packed with too many things, and lose impact.

e. Colour placement can be used to develop either harmony or contrast. It is often useful to group plants of a similar colour together and then place those groups in relation to each other.

f. Try to create a display that has impact from a distance and close-up.

3. Finishing detail. This involves covering up the pots and labeling the plants. The plant label should be clear and readable by the public at some distance, but not detract from the overall effect. For that reason, starkly white tags can be a disaster.

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Judging orchids Slide Show

This is a pdf of a slide show presentation by Jane Wright.

Slide show pdf

or try the video (this may be slow to load)

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What Judges look for on a Show Bench

Alan W Stephenson
Alan is a qualified judge and
a member of the Shoalhaven Orchid Society

The following notes are written mainly for novices and beginners who might be entering plants in a show for the first time.

Cymbidium - Standard

Flowers, leaves and pot should be clean. If the pot is old and in poor condition, place the old pot in a new pot. Some plants do not naturally have all flowers facing the same way on the raceme but this is taken into account as the important feature is to have all flowers visible. Do not exhibit a plant with dead or dying flowers.

Leaves should not show signs of manipulation in order to have all flowers visible. Any bad ends on the leaves should be trimmed but this must be done as neatly as possible. They should be trimmed at an angle similar to the natural leaf shape.

The plant should have a minimum of seven flowers but if the plant had only five or six good flowers (without any being removed) it can be exhibited. Beginners are usually given some latitude but ensure you learn from this. Flowers should be circular in outline and this is best explained by stating “a circle can be drawn around any flower regardless of shape but the flower segments should fill most of that circle”. This means broad segments without them being turned backwards or twisted. A flower is not a flower until it is fully open and will be judged with this in mind. Some standards are best exhibited in an upright fashion but others look best either arching or pendulous. Look at your plant after it has been staked and compare it with others on the bench and make the decision as to how best your plant looks.

All plants can be staked and tied with minimum tying but ensure the stake is not protruding beyond the tip of the raceme. Minimise as much as possible the diameter of the stake (no telegraph poles please). Judges can untie any or all ties to check if the raceme supports itself. If a flower has been broken from a raceme during transport it can be placed on top of the pot with a “Damaged in Transit” note. Do not attempt to cover the broken section with a tie. This is unacceptable conduct and will most likely be noticed.

Intermediate - Miniature Cymbidiums

All of the above applies except the flower count. These plants will naturally carry more flowers per raceme than standards. This group is judged mainly as a pot plant and the number of racemes in proportion to the size of the plant is a feature. This means a plant in a 300 mm pot must carry more racemes than a similar plant in a 175 mm pot. Flowers should be clear of the leaves.

Native Orchids

Ensure plants and pots are clean. Racemes on hybrids can be staked but racemes of species cannot be staked. However, the pseudo bulb can be staked and tied to maintain flower visibility. Beginners should be aware that the dockrillia type of native/hybrid exhibits their flowers in an upside down manner (resupinate). Flower numbers are important as some plants do not carry large numbers of flowers per raceme, so it is important to have open as many flowers as possible, commensurate with the size of the plant. Flowers should be visible without the need to lift the pot and tilt it backwards to see them properly.

Paphiopedilum - Complex and Novelty Hybrids

Most paphs in the winter show will carry a single flower per stem. This should be staked in an upright fashion as this genus does not have pendulous racemes. The tie must be below the ovary. This is the bulky and sometimes hairy section at the top of the stem, immediately below the flower. Do not attempt to have the stem looking like an “S” bend. If this occurs the judge will know you have neglected to stake at the correct time. A good stem is approximately 200 mm but the important feature is to have the flower clear of the leaves. Remember, some species and hybrids have very short stems. Ensure the plant looks slightly concave in profile with the ventral sepal overlapping the dorsal sepal. Petals should ideally be wide with rounded ends. This is a feature of good paphiopedilums. Irrespective of whether the plant is a complex hybrid or novelty type the same staking standards apply. Novelty paph flower shape is different and is judged accordingly.

Laeliinae Alliance

Exhibition cattleyas will be judged similar to standard cymbidiums. Full-shaped circular flowers are expected. Petals should not fall forward or be bent back (reflexed). A circular labellum is a feature on all good cattleyas. Flowers should not overlap each other. The plant should be slightly concave in profile. The smaller flowers in this group should be smaller versions of the exhibition type. Cluster cattleyas which carry many flowers will not usually achieve this shape and are judged with this in mind. Try to tie the main stem on each raceme and not each individual flower. This generally applies to exhibition cattleyas with more than one flower.

Oncidiinae Alliance

This is the group which frequently has branched racemes. These are either staked in an upright or arched style. All flowers must be visible and with oncidium and odontoglossum types the flowers should be flat in profile. Ensure the odontoglossum type has approximately seven flowers but oncidiums (varicosum type) will normally require 12 flowers. Other types will be judged according to their parentage.

The prime aspect of flower assessment is shape, followed by colour, flower size, substance and texture and floriferousness.

Substance is the actual strength of the flower segments.

Texture is the quality of the surface of the flower which makes it attractive.

Floriferousness is the total number of flowers on a raceme or plant.

Vertical and or horizontal symmetry is important in judging, depending on the genus being judged.

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