Growers/hybridizers should evaluate their own seedlings for a period of at least one year in all growing seasons. They should either graft or root cuttings so they can judge if the cloned seedling will perform as well or better than the original seedling grown from seed. During the evaluation period, it’s beneficial to have one or two others grow the cloned seedlings to help evaluate and provide extra insurance in case the original plant dies. Most of these seedlings should have a name once it’s determined that it is either unique or an improvement on a similar variety. Blooms can be entered into shows with no name, but if they win Best of Show Seedling (BOSS), it is required that they be immediately named. Parentage should also be provided at the show. If the variety has not been registered in the International Hibiscus Society Database, it becomes mandatory once it wins. Varieties that are not registered are automatically rejected from the Seedling of the Year competition.
Once a seedling wins a BOSS it is entered into the Seedling of the Year competition. The person who owns the main plant is responsible for providing plants for all Seedling Evaluation Committee Members. It is a great idea to have extras in case some die before the evaluation is completed. To clarify the responsibility here are a few examples:
If you hybridized the variety, grew it out and showed it, then you are responsible for providing the plants.
If you hybridized it, grew it out and gave some plants to friends to help evaluate it and one of them won a show, it is still your responsibility.
If you hybridized it, grew it out but gave the main plant and all clones to someone else and they entered and won with it, then they are responsible.
If you hybridized it, someone else grew it out and showed it, then they are responsible.
Everyone should find themselves somewhere in these scenarios. Bottomline is the person in possession of the main plant is going to be the party responsible for providing plants to the SEC. If at some point this plant was sold to anyone in the chain, then the plant is no longer a seedling. The plants are due to the SEC by convention of the following year. If you can not provide plants the variety is disqualified. The plants will be grown and evaluated for 3 years. During that time the SEC will remove the varieties that are seen as not up to par. Each variety is judged on a 1-10 scale on four attributes:
Winners are awarded a plaque at convention at the end of the evaluation and a new Seedling of the Year is announced.
A new seedling may only be shown 5 times as a seedling in no more than 5 consecutive show years (exception for Covid years) as a seedling. If a seedling bloom is entered in an exhibit category as a regular variety, even with out the hybridizer’s consent, it is no longer a seedling. If the plant or its clones are sold at any point, the variety is no longer a seedling and is considered a regular variety. A sport must be cloned before being entered as a new seedling.
Click here for a listing of all winners from 1971 to present.