You Be the Judge

What makes an orchid a prizewinner?

The American Orchid Society has created a judging system to determine which orchids display the finest qualities of their species. Judges train for years to achieve the title of an official accredited orchid judge.

Study these flowers for color, form, and WOW factor—and cast your vote for Best in Show!

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Orchid A 


Orchid B


Orchid C


Cast Your Vote!

It’s challenging to think about so many different factors for each orchid, but you can do it!

  1. Look at the orchids on display here.
  2. Consider them in terms of color, form, presentation, and WOW! Factor.
  3. Vote for your choice of Best in Show by clicking on the appropriate button at the top of the page.
  4. Then at our website or by text message vote for best in show.

Judging Criteria


Everyone perceives colors and color combinations differently, but standards have been created so judges can appraise colors.

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  • Is the color intense or delicate? Pure (good) or muddy (not so good)?
  • Do the colors create a pleasing combination (good) or a jumbled mess (bad)?
  • Are the blossoms patterned, spotted, striped, or plain? Depending on the genus, good or bad.
  • Are the colors unusual or rare (very good!)?
  • Prized colors, such as alba (white), coerulea (blue), or vinicolor (dark wine purple) receive extra points.


Orchids have a broad range of flower forms. Judges must be familiar with the ideal form for each variety.

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  • Are the petals and sepals flat (good), twisted, or recurved (curved backward or downward)?
  • Is the flower symmetrical (good)?
  • Is the flower shape round (good)? Are the petals and sepals proportional (good) or unbalanced (bad)?
  • Is the flower fully open (good)? Depending on the genus, cupped, nodding, creased, or ruffled flowers can be good or bad.


Grooming an orchid to be as attractive as possible is an important element in exhibitions. Those that look their best win.

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  • Is the plant healthy and strong (good)?
  • Are the flowers well displayed and visible (good)?
  • Is there evidence of disease or insect damage (bad)?
  • Are the flowers above (good) or below the foliage (can be bad if flowers are hidden)?
  • Was the plant groomed/staked properly (good)?

WOW! Factor

Some characteristics don’t fit a standard — they are weird or wonderful. Orchid judges ask themselves: Does the plant or flower impress because —

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  • It displays unusual beauty?
  • It is remarkable in its strangeness?
  • It has an unusual color or color combination?
  • It demonstrates a new direction in breeding?
  • It is a novelty or a miniature?
  • Its leaves show unusually varied colors?

Check our website for this week’s winning vote!