Hibiscus Show & Sale
Hibiscus growers and lovers will want to make a stop in Fort Myers this weekend. The 64th annual Hibiscus Show and Plant Sale will take place Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at the CityGate Ministries. Hosted by the James E. Hendry Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society, the event will feature hundreds of hybrid hibiscus blooms, along with a sale of a variety of the plants.
The show and sale are open to the public; admission and parking are free.
“The show’s going to be very big,” Barbara Oster, the chapter’s vice president, said.
As an official American Hibiscus Society competition, judges and show directors are supplied.
“People come from all over the state,” she said. “Many travel to bring their blooms.”
An estimated 400 to 600 blooms will be on display as part of the show.
A panel of judges will review each entry and judge them in several classes, including amateur, collector, open collector, commercial and seedlings. The blooms will also be broken down based on categories, like single, double and miniature. First, second and third place ribbons are awarded.
“If you’ve never seen the show, it’s really eye-opening,” Oster said.
“You wouldn’t believe such this existed,” she added.
The four overall winners will each receive a $75 cash prize.
“The winners are already announced by the time the show opens to the public,” Oster said.
Approximately 700 to 800 people attend the show and sale each year.
It is the first year that the event is taking place at CityGate Ministries. Previously, it was held at the Araba Shriners Center, but then in 2014 the show and sale took place at the Salvation Army.
“That was a little too small for us,” she said of the last year’s venue.
Another first this year, the chapter is working with a new grower based out of Sarasota, who will supply the 650 plants for sale. All hybrid hibiscuses, they will come in a variety of colors and sizes.
“We had a grower that we used for many years, but he decided to close his nursery,” Oster said.
Many of the plants will be coming from Louisiana.
“There’s many many different varieties,” she said, adding that there are double, single and miniature hibiscuses available for sale. “Some are the size of salad plates, some are tiny little things.”
The small plants cost $15; the large plants cost $25.
“We only have about 50 of the $25 plants,” Oster noted.
Each of the plants will come with a care instructions.
Cash and all major credit cards are accepted.
Door prizes, like gift certificates, will be awarded every 30 minutes.
The chapter will also be selling raffle tickets for $1 each or six for $5. The raffle items include gardening-related products, such as fertilizer, clippers and books, as well as gift baskets.
When Oster moved to Florida from Ohio 15 years ago, her new home had a garden-style variety of hibiscus in the yard. She joined the local chapter to learn more about the plant and how to care for it.
“They’re so unusual, they’re so different,” she said. “People just awe at them.”
Though not a big competitor, Oster has won a few ribbons here and there for her blooms.
“Mostly, I had them just to make my yard beautiful,” she said.
Oster even has a plant named after her – Barbara’s Oyster. She explained that one member is a hybridizer. When he came up with a new plant, he asked that she name it and name it after herself.
“I was speechless,” Oster said. “It’s really exciting.”
She urged people to come out on Saturday for the show and sale.
“We’re hoping for a huge turnout,” Oster said.
The event serves as the chapter’s sole fundraiser. Last year, about $1,000 was raised.
“We support local gardens with our profits,” she said. “That is our only money-making event.”
The James E. Hendry Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society meets monthly from September to June on the second Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army, at 10291 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. The annual membership fee is $40, and it covers the monthly newsletter and a national publication.
For more information, visit online at: www.hendrychapterahs.com.
CityGate Ministries is at 1735 Jackson St. in Fort Myers.