With so many different types of begonias we have different considerations. So first a little background. 

Shows are organized by the eight different growing types ABS has determined for begonias. The eight types are as follows and judges score according to these groups. They are referred to as Divisions in a Begonia Show:


These share the same score card & Division:
          1. Cane-like
          2. Shrub-like
          3. Thick-Stemmed
          4. Rhizomatous
          5. Trailing-Scandent
The below types of begonias, have their own separate divisions:
          6. Rex Cultorum Division
          7. Semperflorens Division
          8. Tuberous Division

 These different begonia types have different attributes, so each type is scored on the attribute of that type. For example, Rex-Cultorum is grouped because its parentage has some original Rex in its DNA. It is grown for its foliage, not its flowers. So flowers are not scored at all and foliage carries a higher score than say the foliage on a Rhizomatous. In contrast is the Tuberous. Trailing Tuberous and Multiflora groups. Their major attribute is flowers, so more scoring points are allocated in their scoring categories.

NOTE: There are separate score cards for these types of begonias and special entries established by the Show Chair and Committee:
          ♦ Trailing Tuberous Divisions
          ♦ Multiflora, Cheimanthus, Hiemalis, and Socotrana Division
Contained Atmosphere Division
Terrariums (Mixed Plantings) Division
          ♦ Arts & Crafts Division
Educational Exhibits Division

And other divisions can be added as appropriate for the area of the show, e.g. New Introductions, Commercial Entries, etc. Also, classes can be added to the divisions, further dividing entries, for example separating hybrids from species, hanging baskets, propagations & seedlings, novice division, green-house grown, commercial growers,  and many more.


Since a typically simple branch show contains the eight types of Begonia growth, Plant Scoring is broken out among several categories. Scoring sheets may be obtained by contacting judging@abs.org. The most common categories are:

  1. Cultural Perfection
  2. Foliage
  3. Quality/Quantity of Flowers
  4. Difficulty of Cultivation

    Now we can we can concentrate on the condition of the plant, which is the first three sections of all the scoring sheets. It might help to follow along using the scoring sheets, or schedules referred to above. 


Most of these items are self explanatory, so for simplicity they will be listed first. Some further emphasis will be addressed after the lists.

Cultural perfection is scored first and covers the overall look of the plant. Considerations are:

  • Shape of the plant. Is it balanced?
  • Fullness of the plant. Does it have bare spots? 
  • Size of the plant. Is the size appropriate for this cultivar or species?
  • Vigor of the plant. Is it healthy? Consider all parts of the plant.
  • Is it free from pests? Note: if a pest (or disease) is noted on the plant it will be isolated from the show.
  • Is the container suitable? Show rules will specify what container is allowed. Typically a plain container is required, free from decoration or embellishment and is neutral in color. Is it clean? Free from labels?
  • If the plant is staked, is it staked correctly? Stakes should not be taller than the plant itself. They should be unobtrusive and scale to the plant. Consider how it is tied.

Foliage is scored next:

  • Are there holes in the leaves?
  • Is the leaf a healthy color?
  • Substance of leaves? Are they healthy? Are they firm yet pliable?
  • What is the quantity of leaves?
  • Is mildew present, or a past mildew problem?
  • Are any old, yellow leaves present?
  • Are there any dried or brown-edged leaves?
  • Are leaves wilted?
  • Is dirt or dust on the leaves?

Then Flowers are scored. Note the Rex-Culturom division does not score on flowers. And don’t worry if your plant isn’t blooming, unless you’re displaying a plant grown for its blooms.

  • Size of Flowers
  • Color
  • Lack of blemishes
  • Substance of petals
  • Freedom from old flowers/stems
  • Quantity of flowers

Whether or not you grow your begonia for show, these factors above are what we all concentrate on. A well balanced plant is pinched, fertilized, rotated throughout the growing process, watching closely for any pests or diseases.  If you have a stellar plant, identify its success and pay special attention to condition several months before the show.

Several months prior to the show it’s important to start grooming your plant. You might need to repot into a larger or smaller pot so it’s in the proper container. Take off spent leaves and flowers and flower stems. And just prior to the show another grooming is in order. Fertilized seed pods are okay, as well as fresh pods, we want seeds! But dry or wilted and spent pods need to go. Remove any damaged leaves. It’s ok to cut transport damage away, but keep your cut to the shape of the leaf, best just before the show. Blow dust or debris off on the leaves and base of your plant.  Hide the plant label, tape it to the bottom of your pot or sink it below the soil line. You can dress the top layer of your soil, Check the placement of any stakes. Some of these minor adjustments are done just prior to the show. 

As far as scoring plants go, leave this up to the judges. ABS Judging Chairs can help you in this regard. They may even be able to send an ABS certified judge to help your group. From time to time a Judging Course is offered. For information on Judging and Judging classes contact the ABS Judging Chairs by emailing judging@begonias.org.