It is one of the largest and oldest Hibiscus shows in the state of Florida, and, with a new location, it promises to been even bigger and better this time around.
The James E. Hendry Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society, the oldest such chapter in the country with 58 memberships, will hold its 63rd annual Hibiscus show and plant sale on Sunday, June 1, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Salvation Army Building, 10291 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers.
Wanda Schmoyer, society president, said the event will feature between 500 and 800 hybrid hibiscus blooms, which will be judged in several different classes including amateur, collector, open collector, commercial and seedlings.
"You're eyes are dropped wide open because some of them are the size of dinner plates. It's awesome," Schmoyer said.
The show, as well as the society's meetings, has moved from its previous location at the Araba Shrine (and before that the Exhibition Hall).
"That was a very expensive location for a non-profit like us to hold a show. They told us after last year's show the temple was for sale and that we might want to look for another place," Schmoyer said.
Thankfully, Schmoyer lives down the street from the Salvation Army building, which she discovered met the criteria needed for their meetings and show at a fifth of the cost.
Members of the society who are experts in the care and growing of Hibiscus will be available to provide advice. Should members of the public have questions regarding how the blooms are judged, there will also be several senior American Hibiscus Society judges from throughout the state available to respond.
Also, more than 700 hybrid Hibiscus plants will be for sale, with almost every color under the rainbow represented, said Barbara Oster, vice president of the society and a Cape Coral resident.
"People can expect to see Hibiscus like they've never seen before. When people see Hibiscus, they see what you find on the street," Oster said. "Here, your mouth drops open and say 'I didn't know such things grew.'"
Oster added she has seen people touch the plants, thinking they're fake.
Vivian and Doug Gibson, for North Fort Myers, got into Hibiscus after moving here from Texas two years ago despite not knowing much about them.
"I got into hibiscus and investigated them and thought they would be a challenge," Vivian said. "We didn't know what we were doing, so we joined the society and it's been whole hog ever since."
The Gibsons have grown 40 of them, with one of them winning best of show on Mother's Day in Punta Gorda.
Free raffle tickets will be given away every 30 minutes during the event for gift certificates to countless area businesses.
This is the best opportunity Southwest Floridians have to add to their hybrid hibiscus collection. The plant grows abundantly in Florida's tropical climate, but cannot be bought at a hardware store. Hybrids can only be bought at shows, Schmoyer said.
Anyone who desires to learn more about how to grow, graft and hybridize this attractive tropical flowering plant can do so by joining the chapter at the show. The price is $40 per year and they get $3 off any plant they buy.
The show is the climax of the year for the society, with no further meetings taking place until Oct. 12.
The society meets at The Salvation Army Building on the second Sunday of each month at 1:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend the first meeting of the new season.
Parking and admission is free. For more information, contact Schmoyer at 848-7090 or go online at www.hendrychapterahs.com.