How We Won the National Moore
By Dr Satish Prabhu
Columbia, South Carolina

(From Rose Exhibitors' Forum, Summer 1999)

When the date for the National Convention at Charlotte was announced, we knew we would have unfavorably hot weather before the show. I therefore considered making an attempt to exhibit some miniatures, and possibly to enter a national challenge class. My professional work demanded that I return to work most of the days of the particular week I had scheduled to do the pruning and I soon found myself falling behind schedule with the pruning of my HTs. I would not have given up on my HTs under any circumstances. And pruning all of my 80 miniatures was out of the question. So I selected 35 mini bushes and quickly pruned them back one afternoon. The rest, I had no choice but to let go.

After pruning, I applied two cups per bush of ECOJOY, 20 lbs. per 400 square feet of bed space, and worked it into the soil. I followed it up with Miracle Gro, two cups per square foot, and fish emulsion also at three cups per 400 square feet on alternate weekends. I also applied Sequestrene at one teaspoon per bush twice, two weeks apart. Three weeks before the show date, I repeated the application of ECOJOY. Two weeks before the show date, I stopped all fertilizing. During the next two weeks I disbudded the minis as best as I could. We could not manage to protect any minis from the weather (rain and too much sun).

I sprayed the minis along with the HTs every week. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the show, I quickly cut some miniature blooms, between 15 and 20 blooms at a time, each morning and evening. I cut them fairly tight and placed them in bundles in large plastic cups. I did not cut any minis with questionable stem and foliage, color, form or substance. Thus we ended up with a total of approximately 120 mini blooms in the refrigerator.

On the morning of the show, we discarded about 50 percent of the mini blooms which had already advanced to exhibition stage and beyond, even under refrigeration at 38 degrees. So we were able to take our minis in just four large plastic cups placed in a fast food restaurant's takeout container for stabilizing drinks.

We worked on our HTs and visited with friends till 9 a.m. Then we picked the best of each variety we had, about 13 specimens, and by holding them together in a bunch, we cut the stems down to 10 inches in length. By placing the stems so they touched the bottom of the vases we were assured of a reasonably level placement of the entry regardless of the position of each bloom in the entry. Also, with all blooms at the same level we had the ability to move our blooms around without having to readjust the stem lengths of each bloom as we moved them around. From the 13 specimens we picked the nine best and advanced each of them to what we thought was the exhibition stage for each of them, using the brush technique to advance the blooms as taught by Robbie and Marsha Tucker. My wife Vijaya replaced one last bloom which she thought did not have a good enough form.

When we finished placing our entry we looked around to see a total of 11 entries, all of which were very good! But after closely looking at all of them, I still felt good about our entry because of a freshness of all the blooms, excellence of stem and foliage, uniformity of stem lengths and lastly the knowledge that they had all just barely reached the exhibition stage and therefore had tremendous holding power even if the judging was slightly delayed.

A couple of my friends showed me their entries and a couple of other entries they thought had the best chances of winning. After looking at them again, I told Vijaya our entry still looked the best. Vijaya simply laughed and said that if you had a good entry in a mini challenge class, it was always a 50-50 chance of winning, and you might as well toss a coin. I agreed with her, but the judges agreed with me!

It is commonly believed among my friends that we do not like miniatures as much as we like HTs. It is not true! However, it is true that we usually do not have enough time during growing season as well as exhibiting season to do everything we would like to do!

Dr. Satish and Vijaya Prabhu won the Ralph S. Moore National Trophy at the 1998 ARS Fall National Rose Show in Charlotte, NC.