R U L E #
When putting in an orchid exhibit you are
always better off having too much than too little.
Of course this does not mean that you
must USE it all. When you are at the exhibit hall it is a real luxury to
have MORE foliage than you really need, plenty of mulch to cover all of
your staging and enough of an orchid selection that you have just
the right orchid for a particular spot. After spending hours planning
your exhibit, gathering materials, creating your prop, collecting plants,
and transporting all of your stuff to the exhibit hall...it is only frustrating
to have to compromise at this point. Don't allow it. The guidelines offered
below are conservative. If you can exceed them then by all means
do so. You will appreciate it on set-up day.
Plan on having at least 100 blooming
orchids per 100 sq. ft. of exhibit space. Plants should be groomed
for exhibition and flowers should be fully opened but not on their way
out. A few days in an air-conditioned exhibition hall can be hard on flowers,
only those in their prime will last. Be sure that plants have been fully
watered before putting them in an exhibit. If the show will last more
than a few days make provisoions to water the plants at some point during
For naturalized exhibits, that is landscaped exhibits,
figure that about 20% - 30% of the total area will be foliage plants.
You will need a variety of sizes and heights. Actual needs will depend
on the show staging, exhibit design and location of your space. Corners
will require less foliage. Often show committees will provide a minimum
amount of foliage with the exhibit space, inquire the show chairman about
this. Provide at least a row of tall foliage (up to 8') for creating a
barrier between your space and the exhibit you back up to. For a 100 sq.
ft. space that would be about 8-10, 5-gallon ficus benjamina, areca or
queen palms depending on how full they are. Stocky two-gallon arbicola,
philodendron or boston fern can be used between and in front of the background
material as well as for the sides of the exhibit area. 15-20 of these two-gallon
plants would be a good number to have on hand. Finally, two dozen or more
small maidenhair or fluffy ruffles ferns work well as contrast and relief
between orchid plants. Philodendrons and other foliage plants as well as
some bromeliads also work well for this however, avoid strongly variegated
foliage (important !), it competes with the orchids. Finally, an interesting
specimen foliage plant such as a citrus trained to a standard can provide
a focal point for an exhibit as well as a great place to display that special
DO NOT use any other flowering plant material in your exhibit (important
And finally, Do not use any artificial plant material in your exhibit
The word "groundcover" refers to any
material used to cover the floor or tabletop that the exhibit space encompasses.
This material is also used to cover any staging that is used to create
levels within the exhibit area as well as the orchid pots in most cases.
Groundcover can be almost any material that serves this purpose without
distracting from the orchids themselves. For naturalized exhibits groundcover
is typically a bagged material such as cypress mulch, peat or pine bark
"deco nuggets'. Sheet moss was and still is extremely popular giving
a nice woodland look to any orchid exhibit. It must be moistened before
use however and today many exhibitors are looking for easier to use materials.
Tabletop exhibitors generally use yard goods to cover tables, with black
or dark green fabric being favorites.Yard goods have also begun showing
up in floor exhibits; large dropcloths dyed or painted a dark color provide
a quick effective way to cover large areas of staging and foliage pots.
Camouflage cloth such as used by hunters has been recently seen at orchid
shows and makes a fast, easy groundcover especially when combined with
a bag or two of dried leaves. Any groundcover material you decide on should
be of a neutral color that does not detract from the orchids and should
be readily available and inexpensive enough that a large enough quantity
can be obtained for your exhibit space. A 2-cu. ft. bag of cypress mulch
or pine bark should cover about 10-15 sq. ft. of space depending on how
thick it is applied and whether or not the space is flat or contoured.
Five bags would be minimum for 100 sq. ft exhibit taking into account the
space taken up by foliage and orchids. . Allow 3-4 boxes of sheet moss
per 100 sq. ft. exhibit space and be sure to bring buckets and tubs to
soak it in. Two or three bags of dark peat or top soil will make a nice
path in a 100 sq. ft. exhibit.
A successful exhibit has different levels on which
to display orchids. Foliage plants are also more attractive when they are
not all on the same horizontal plane. Whatever you use to achieve these
levels will in part depend on the groundcover you have decided on. If you
are using sheet moss your staging will need to be waterproof. Plastic milk
crates, fern stands, plastic pots, wooden vegetable crates and crumpled
newspaper in plastic garbage bags all work well and are equally suitable
for dry groundcover. The newspaper does not need to be in garbage bags
if you are using dry groundcover. Whatever materials you use should light
in weight and easy to transport to the exhibit hall. They also must be
sturdy enough to support orchids without compromise throughout
the duration of the show. I remember one exhibit I worked on where the
committee chairman had devised staging using chicken wire and lumber. It
collapsed and destroyed our two best Cattleyas. If using crumpled newspaper
be sure that any orchids are seated firmly before finishing the exhibit.
Six or so milk crates can be used to carry materials to the exhibit hall
and then pressed into duty to gain height for background foliage. An assortment
of plastic pots are light in weight and can be used upturned to provide
elevation to an orchid or foliage plant .