Northeast Ohio Daylily Society

Exhibiting Daylilies

Exhibiting Daylilies

The following are four basic considerations in preparing daylily entries for exhibition:

1. Selecting

2. Grooming

3. Transporting

4. Using show entry tags


The process of selecting entries can begin several days to a week before a show by reviewing scapes in the garden and identifying those that are sturdy, straight, and have typical branching, height, and growth pattern. Those that show minimal insect damage and that are in the prime of their bloom period will be the easiest to groom. These potential entries can be recorded in a notebook, or a piece of yarn or string can be tied to the scapes for later identification.

On the day before the show, the bud development of these scapes will be sufficient to estimate how many blooms, if any, will likely be open the next day. If several scapes are available to choose from, those with the potential for multiple blooms, highest bud count, and best bud placement should be considered. The process of filling out show entry tags can begin during this selection period to save time on show day, when primary attention should be devoted to last-minute grooming.

Final selection must take place on show day once the blooms have begun to open. Only worthy specimens should be selected. The size of the bloom should meet its registered size. If considerably over or undersized, it likely will have points deducted accordingly and should not be entered unless all other characteristics are exceptional. The form (the placement and shape of the segments) should be checked for uniformity. The color, texture, and substance should all be typical for the cultivar. Every bloom on a scape should be uniform in all its characteristics. Scapes that will require extensive grooming to correct problems should be left in the garden. To prevent water spotting, overhead watering should be avoided the day before the show.


. The tools needed to groom a scape properly include a small sharp knife or razor blade, a pair of finger nail sci

The detailed grooming is more difficult to perform until the scape is cut since it may not be possible to reach the scape from all angles. The decision to groom prior to cutting a scape is really determined by how many scapes are to be exhibited and the time factor (how long it will take to get to the show).

ssors, and some cotton swabs or a fine-haired artist’s brush.

The scape should present an all-green appearance to the judges. Grooming should remove all dead or dried bracts. Scissors should be used to cut off the brown tips of the small bracts that grow along the scape and at the bud junctions. These should be trimmed to a point in the same shape in which they were growing to present the most natural appearance. Only the brown tips should be removed, not the entire bract.

Undamaged foliage on proliferations should not be cut away. Proliferations must remain on the scape. The judges will deduct points only if the proliferation detracts from the overall balance and harmony of the exhibit. If this is the case, it is best to select another scape for competition.

Bloom scars, where spent blooms have dropped from the scape, will turn brown over a period of time. A knife can be used to scrape or cut away a very small amount of the surface area of all bloom scars in order to leave them fresh and green. Evidence of where blooms have been must not be completely removed since this may detract from the judges’ evaluation of total bud count.

The overall effect of the scape must be evaluated. If multiple blooms are crowded or touching, they may be damaged if they even lightly touch during transport to the show. Judges may also deduct points if the crowding seriously affects the specimen. Consideration should be given to removing a bloom to save an otherwise outstanding specimen. Also, if an extra bloom is not consistent in form, size, texture, or color with the others, it will not help the specimen. If an unopened bud distorts or rubs against a bloom, it may be best to remove the bud. During transport to the show, a pointed bud can rub or even poke a hole in a flower segment.

Insect damage is difficult to eliminate. Some signs of insects can be removed, such as the white flecks, the shed skins, or the sticky "honeydew" that aphids produce. Live aphids, ants that they attract, and spiders should be carefully brushed off the blooms and scapes. Thrip damage can leave roughened brown areas on scapes or branches. Sometimes careful light scraping with a knife blade can reduce the effect. The use of artificial coloring to hide defects is prohibited. Thrip damage to blooms, especially darker cultivars, can result in white streaks on the open bloom surface. Nothing can remedy this once a bloom is open. Thrips also can cause ridges and other malformations to unopened buds. If the bud damage is severe, it might be best to remove one or two to save the exhibit. Slug 2010 Version - 98 - 2010 Version - 98 -

damage to scape or bloom is not correctable. Generally it is wise to select another scape rather than spend excessive time attempting to salvage a damaged one.

The vibration of grooming and transporting an entry may dislodge pollen onto the flower segments. This can be carefully brushed off, or blown off using a soda straw, just before entering the specimen. Flowers should not be entered if their anthers have been removed for hybridizing use. If stamens or pistil are severely distorted, perhaps another scape should be considered unless the exhibit is otherwise exceptional. If a flower petal or sepal breaks while being transported, the daylily may not be suitable for entry. If the damage is merely a crack or minor tear in the edge, the bloom may still be capable of winning a ribbon. If a segment is missing or so severely broken that it visibly affects the bloom form, then, the entry may be disqualified.

The scape itself should be cut off as close to the base as possible and placed in warm, not cold, water. As with most cut flowers, a slanted cut should be made when severing the scape. This prevents the scape from standing flat on the bottom and impeding water absorption. At the show, a fresh cut should be made when placing the scape into its display container.
Cutting as close to the base as possible is mandatory for seedlings, and it is best to do the same for registered cultivars until the height of containers in which they will be displayed is known. Then, registered cultivars can be cut at the height which presents the most effective balance between container, scape, and bloom(s). This is a judgment call which is very critical. An overly tall, unbalanced entry will stick out when surrounded by those of more pleasing proportions. A very short scape will look lost in a tall container. At the show, scapes should be matched to an appropriate container. However, containers may neither be "personalized" nor modified in any way by the exhibitor.

If the show is at a great distance or if inclement weather is predicted, it is possible to cut some cultivars the evening before the show. This can be a gamble as to whether the blooms will open and be typical. Through trial and error it is possible to learn which cultivars will hold up and which will not when cut that early. Individual, off-scape blooms will not survive if cut prior to opening. Those should be selected only on show day.


Transporting daylilies to shows does not have to be difficult. The type of vehicle used for transportation obviously has a significant effect on the method or technique used. Several effective methods exist. Soft drink crates and bottles are suitable, but their weight is a disadvantage.

One effective method is to use carriers constructed of plywood and PVC pipe. Three-quarter or half-inch thick plywood sheets from 18" x 24" to 24" x 48" can be bored with ¾" diameter holes into which lengths of ¾" PVC pipe are tightly inserted. PVC caps, corks, or sealant can be attached to the bottom of the pipe sections so that they will retain water. The pipe sections can be eight to twelve inches tall to accommodate varying heights of scapes. Up to two dozen scapes per sheet can be carried by staggering the pipe sections on about 8" centers. By gluing Styrofoam to the plywood base, individual blooms in water picks can be placed between the pipes. Alternatively, even lighter-weight carriers can be constructed totally of PVC pipe.

No matter what type of container is used, it is best to use florists’ tape or masking tape to secure each scape to its container to prevent as much rotation and movement as possible. Wedges of paper, cotton, or

Buckets or plastic trashcans also make good containers for transporting masses of daylilies. Warm, damp sand can be placed in the bottom both to secure the scape and to give the container the necessary weight to remain upright. Scapes can be taped to the side of the can, or a wire mesh can be fitted into or over the bucket to provide the necessary stability and spacing. Also, rolls of newspaper (1" to 1½" diameter) placed vertically in buckets keep scapes very stable. Scapes slip into spaces between newspaper rolls. The addition of water keeps scapes fresh and adds necessary weight for stability.

Blooms cut early in the morning will continue to open and/or recurve as time progresses, so scapes should not be placed too closely together in the containers. Even the slightest vibration over a period of time can cause damage to blooms if they strike other blooms, buds, or scapes. If necessary, branches can be forced apart ever so slightly and wedged with paper towels, foam, or soft cloths to keep blooms from touching.

Blooms should never be placed in a car trunk. Even if they appear normal, the heat buildup will generally prove to have been very detrimental to the blooms by the time judging commences.


Every entry must have an official show entry tag attached (See Figure 5). Much of the data can be filled out in advance, such as name, address of the exhibitor(s), and the names of those cultivars or seedlings showing the highest potential. The show schedule must be available for identifying the horticulture division(s) and show section(s) division, section, group, and class into which each potential entry will be placed. It is best to complete this in advance so that time on show day can be reserved for grooming. The AHS Hemerocallis Checklist (hard copy, AHS online data base, or CD version), or the annual supplements, must be used to verify classifications as necessary. The show Entry Committee or Classification Committee will not fill out show entry tags or have much time to spend identifying unknown cultivars.

Tag information should be printed clearly using a pencil or indelible blue or black pen. A preprinted mailing label or stamp can be used for the exhibitor’s name and 2010 Version - 99 - 2010 Version - 99 -

address. The schedule and its designations of Arabic or Roman numerals must be used for the various divisions, sections, groups, and classes. A field should be left blank if it does not apply.

AHS members should check the appropriate block. Only AHS members may win AHS rosettes and Medals, but a winner may join at the show to qualify.

For entries in the AHS Achievement Medal class or for other collections of scapes, each scape should have a show tag. These tags should be marked
1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3 to avoid a mix-up during placement. If exhibitors enter the AHS Achievement Medal section, a show committee will see that a temporary number is also assigned to each entry until judging is complete. Once the show tag is completed, it should be folded in such a way that only the registered cultivar name and placement information are observable. Note that for seedlings the generic term "SEEDLING" must be used in place of seedling numbers on the exposed portion of the show tag. The seedling number may appear on the concealed portion.

Certain fields of the show entry tag should be left blank by the exhibitor(s), as they are for official show use only. These include the entry number, the AHS Achievement Medal section temporary number on the reverse of the card, and the award blocks. The Entry or Classification committees will assign entry numbers, if used.

Judges and clerks use the award blocks to designate the level of any award(s). The levels of awards designated on the tags are generally self-explanatory, and they apply to both horticulture and design exhibits. Best-in-Show does not require an award punch. The Special Award block can be used for the AHS Achievement Medal, the Ophelia Taylor Horticultural Award, or for local awards as dictated by the schedule. The AHS Rosette block can be used for either a horticulture AHS Section Rosette or the design division’s Tricolor or Designer’s Choice Rosette.

Official AHS show entry tags may be purchased in bulk from the AHS Exhibitions Chair.

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