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Local hibiscus society to hold annual show, sale

By Staff | May 31, 2013

The 62nd Annual Hibiscus Show and Plant Sale will feature hundreds of hybrid blooms Sunday. Hosted by the Fort Myers James E. Hendry Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society, the event will take place from 1-4 p.m. at the Araba Shiners Center, at 2010 Hanson St. in Fort Myers. Admission and parking are free. There is no cost to enter a bloom into the show, and participation is open to all ages.

“They’re going to be absolutely blown away by these blooms,” chapter President Wanda Schmoyer said. “These are not just your average garden variety. They’re all different, they’re all beautiful.”

She noted that the show is unique because it focuses solely on flower blooms.

“Other plant sales I’ve been to just show plants. Ours are just the blooms,” she said.

Last year, an estimated 400 to 500 blooms were entered into the competition. The entries are divided among several categories, including amateur, collector, open collector, commercial and seedlings.

There will be 22 winners selected, with ribbons and cash prizes – $25 or $50 – awarded.

“We’ve got judges coming from all over Florida,” Schmoyer said, adding that there are 15 total.

Anyone who has a “nice looking hibiscus bloom” in their yard can pick it and bring it along for entry into the show. Entries are accepted from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and will be placed into the amateur category.

“We don’t charge to enter. We don’t charge to show up,” she said.

“Kids can enter if they want,” Schmoyer added. “The more the merrier.”

Cape resident Frank Heffernan, who has been a member of the local chapter since the late 1990s, is planning to take part in the show. He has been cultivating hybrid hibiscuses for about six years.

“It’s just the beauty,” he said. “They’re one-day flowers.”

After relocating to the area from Alaska upon his retirement, Heffernan and his wife attended the annual show, where they learned about hibiscus and bought a couple of plants for their home. Soon afterward, they joined the chapter and Heffernan later discovered the art of hybridizing the plants.

“Naturally, they’ll have the characteristics of the parent plants, but they’ll be different,” he said.

“You never know what the flower is going to look like,” Heffernan added.

He is currently working on a purple and white combination.

Asked about the competition, Heffernan called it a “Florida-centric event.”

“You won’t find hibiscus much north of the center of the state,” he said.

Over the year, Heffernan’s blooms have won a couple of ribbons.

“I have probably close to 50 plants, and they’re one-day flowers so you never know exactly what’s going to bloom that day, but I’m sure I’ll have some,” he said of entering blooms into this year’s show.

In addition to the competition, there will be about 700 hibiscus plants on sale Sunday.

“These plants are absolutely spectacular,” Schmoyer said.

The plants are $15 each, and there is a holding area available to store them during the event.

“We make it simple,” she said. “And that’s a deal for a hybrid.”

Those who join the local chapter that day get an additional $3 off of each hibiscus plant. An annual membership to the Fort Myers James E. Hendry Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society is $40.

Hibiscus-themed items will also be on sale at the show, like pot holders, aprons and more.

“There’s other little things you can buy,” Schmoyer said.

All of the proceeds raised go to the local chapter.

There will be door prizes given away throughout the day.

“Everybody that comes in the door gets a program and a free raffle ticket,” she said.

Several tickets will be drawn about every 30 minutes for gift certificates to places like the Oasis Restaurant, Cloyde’s Steak & Lobster House, Hemingway’s Island Grill, Victory Lane Chevrolet, We’re HAIR For You, Salon Nicholas, Unbelievable Hibiscus, Snyderman’s Shoes and B&B Organics.

“We let them come up to the front and pick their choice,” Schmoyer said.

“We’ve got wonderful door prizes,” she added.

There will also be experts and club members on hand to answer hibiscus-related questions.

The Fort Myers James E. Hendry Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society meets October through May on the second Sunday of each month at the Eco-Living Center, at 6490 South Pointe Blvd. in Fort Myers. The next meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 13. Anyone interested in joining to welcome to attend.

For information on the club or annual show and sale, visit: www.hendrychapterahs.com.