Hibiscus Season is Here

| April 1, 2017

Wow Factor single bloom.

Wow Factor single bloom.

Lone Star Chapter Of The American Hibiscus Society To Hold Annual Shows, April 23 And May 13

Whether you are a serious cultivator of the exotic hibiscus plant or just a casual gardener, you won’t want to miss the Lone Star Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society’s (AHS) annual show and sale events coming up this spring. With massive, colorful, trumpet-shaped blooms atop dark green foliage on sizeable shrubs, hibiscus plants are a dramatic addition to any flower garden, and there is no better place to replenish your garden with these fabulous flowers than at an American Hibiscus Society show.

On Sunday, April 23 growers will gather at Condit Elementary School on Third Street in Bellaire, and on Saturday, May 13 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Burney Road in Sugar Land. For both shows, judging will take place in the morning and the flower show and sale will be open to the public in the afternoon from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free.

The Competition

Exhibitors, both experienced and novice, will enter their hibiscus blooms the morning of each show to compete to win awards in four major categories – Amateur, Collector, Open Collector and Commercial. Growers wishing to enter their plants in the competitions generally arrive between 7:30 and 9 a.m., and entries must be complete by 11:30 a.m. Once the plants are entered, the judges inspect the blooms and evaluate them based on their form, size, color, substance and condition. Blooms can be single, double or miniature, and there will also be a competition for seedlings.

“A gold seal ribbon is awarded to perfect blooms earning 9 to 10 points,” retired teacher Gloria Mikulenka, a vice president of the Lone Star Chapter of AHS, explains. “A blue ribbon is awarded to first place blooms earning 7 to 8 points, and a red ribbon is awarded to second place blooms earning 4 to 6 points. Then there is final gold seal judging to award ‘head table’ honors.  This is the ‘best of the best’ and quite an honor,” Gloria says.

What You’ll Find at the Plant Sale

Once the judging is complete, the facilities are open free to the public from 1-4 p.m. when patrons are invited to come and view the competition blooms and purchase plants. At the plant sale, you will find eye-catching hibiscus in a wide variety of colors, including whites, yellows, oranges, peaches, pinks, reds, purples, lavenders, blues, and browns, as well as various combinations of these colors. New varieties of hibiscus and special plant selections from Florida and California will be available for purchase. Many varieties of this stunning perennial will be available that cannot be found at your local nursery.

Marti Graves, editor of the Lone Star Chapter of the AHS newsletter, says that on the day of the show, growers looking to score the best plants available show up early to shop. “When we open the doors,” she says, “most people hurry to the plant sale area first because they know the best ones go fast.”

Even if you have shopped the show in the past, you may want to come again this spring because the assortment of hibiscus plants expands each year as many growers experiment with hybridizing the flower. Hybridization is the process of cross-breeding flowers to create new types of seedlings that blossom into blooms with unique color combinations and patterns. Joanna Schimek, a long-time member of both the local and national chapters of AHS, and her husband, Ottmar, the current president of the Lone Star Chapter, recently began to hybridize hibiscus plants, mixing the colors and other traits from the flowers they love. “I like the crazy brown, blue and purple ones that are so very different than what you expect,” Joanna says. “Ottmar keeps me reined in with his preference of the pinks, yellows and more traditional colors.” Hybridizing allows Joanna and Ottmar to create new varieties of hibiscus that draw on their personal preferences. “We were excited that two of our seedlings that were named after our grandchildren were head table winners this year,” she says. The pair currently grow approximately 600 varieties of the plant, and they will bring some of the jewels of their collection to the show.

It is the hybridization that draws many hibiscus enthusiasts to return to the AHS shows annually. Ottmar explains that some growers come year after year to see what new varieties they can find. “Many attendees come looking for a particular color to add to their collection,” he says. “Many want to come and see new varieties that were not offered last year.”

Early American double bloom.

 

Clusters of Hibiscus make a stunning arrangement. From top to bottom: Moon Song, Steppin’ Out and Tahitian Sophistication.

 

Hibiscus plants provide drama to any garden, particularly when a variety of colors are grouped together.

 

Heartbreak Hotel single bloom.

 

Pink Lemonade single bloom.

 

Yoda double bloom.

 

New Idea double bloom.

 

 


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