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Hibiscus Show and Plant Sale ready to bloom

By Staff | May 28, 2011

The James E. Hendry 60th Hibiscus Show and Plant Sale will be held on June 5 with a large assortment of flowers to admire and purchase at the Araba Shriners Temple in Fort Myers.
President Wanda Schmoyer said they have held the hibiscus show and plant sale for the past four or five years at the Araba Shriners Temple.
“It is a perfect place for us,” she said.
This year the event will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
There will be 10 huge tables set up everywhere inside of the building to showcase the hibiscus flowers. Those who attend the event can expect to see anywhere between 800 to 1,000 blooms on wire displays from various exhibitors from all over Florida.
She said those who have never attended the event will more than likely not be able to catch their breath once they enter the room because of the variety of hibiscus blooms and colors they will see.
Frank Heffernan, a Cape Coral resident who has participated in the show for the past 10 years, has more than 20 hibiscus plants that he purchased from various shows and more than 20 plants that he has started from seeds all over his property.
He said he hopes to bring two or three of his flowers to the show on June 5.
Schmoyer said 15 judges will arrive in town from all over Florida. Gold ribbons, blue ribbons and red ribbons will be earned by the many individuals who enter their hibiscus into the show.
She said the best of show hibiscus will sit on the stage for everyone to view.
A nursery from Tampa also will bring 900 hybrid hibiscus plants to the event, which will be on sale for $15 a piece.
“It really is a good place to buy plants,” Heffernan said about the annual plant show. He said there is a lot of information available about where and how to plant hibiscus and what kind of fertilization you should use.
Schmoyer said there will be a great deal of experts roaming around at the event wearing orange shirts to provide attendees with the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the hibiscus.
A holding area will be set up for those who wish to purchase a few plants, but still want to look around before they leave. She said buyers should put the plants in their holding area instead of in the hot car.
Everyone who attends the event will receive a raffle ticket when they walk in the door for a free door prize.
At 2 p.m. the Suncoast Sunshine Cloggers will perform on the stage for 30 minutes — a new attraction for the show.
The show also will feature hand-crafted merchandise for individuals to purchase.
The show typically attracts a minimum of 500 people every year during the four-hour event.
Heffernan said he originally got into the hibiscus flower when he moved to Florida in the early 90s, which has grown over the years.
He said he plants approximately 50 seeds every year, which produce about 20 plants because he is an amateur gardener. Of the 20 plants that grow, about 15 mature and produces flowers.
Heffernan has also hybridized hibiscus flowers of his own, with one of them being registered. Marcelyn Hall, a hibiscus named after his wife’s mother, is now being sold commercially.
“It is a long process to get them registered,” he said.
The hybrid process he said is easy to do because all you have to do is dust the pollen from two different hibiscus onto one of them. Once the flower falls off, he then watches the pod go from green to brown. After that occurs, Heffernan than picks the seeds found inside the pod and plants them.
The growing process is then watched as the hibiscus plant needs to be in the ground for about 18 months and produce flowers and seeds.
“It needs to be a good overall plant,” he said, for it to be registered. There are currently 10,000 flowers in the hibiscus registry, which the individuals name themselves.
The hibiscus that bloom in every direction of his property usually pop up around 11 a.m every day for only one day. He said every once in a while he will get a flower that stays in bloom for two days.
Once the weather hits 90 degrees, Heffernan said the plants do not produce as many flowers.
He said he enjoys seeing the flowers when he walks out into his yard. He said he is looking forward to next fall and spring to see if some of his plants will flower.
For more information about the hibiscus show and plant sale call 239-848-7090 or visit www.hendrychapterahs.com.
The Araba Shriners Temple is located at 2010 Hanson Street in Fort Myers.
The James E. Hendry Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society was founded in 1952 as a non-profit organization. The first hibiscus show in Fort Myers was held at the Civic Center on Oct. 21, 1951 with the theme “Know Your Hibiscus.”
Heffernan said anyone who is interested in hibiscus should join the club because the more members the merrier. Anyone who joins the club during the show will receive a free plant.