Marie Selby Botanical Gardens announces this year’s Orchid Show, The Orchid Show: Blossoms of Asia

August 7, 2019

Thousands of orchids and other plants will be on display beginning October, 12, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. (August 7, 2019) – The 2019 iteration of the annual Orchid Show at Selby Gardens returns October 12, 2019 with The Orchid Show: Blossoms of Asia presented by Better-Gro®. The exhibition explores the variety and beauty of orchids found throughout Asia. 

From October 12 to December 1, 2019, Selby Gardens will highlight the orchids of Asia set within Asian-inspired landscape design.  This will not only afford an opportunity to feature different orchid species, but also enable an examination of the cultural significance of orchids, as manifest in Asian art, philosophy, and religion. 

Throughout Asia, the orchid is one of four plants, including the plum blossom, bamboo, and chrysanthemum known as the “Four Gentlemen.”  Each plant signifies one of the four seasons and is associated with certain desirable human traits.  

“It is exciting to work with a part of our collection that we don’t normally focus on in exhibitions,” said Angel Lara, Director of Glasshouse Collections at Selby Gardens and designer of the upcoming living orchid exhibition. “While Asia is broad and diverse in geography and culture, using Asian inspired design and horticultural practices from various cultures, we will create an immersive and dynamic display in the Conservatory for this show.”

Blossoms of Asia will combine a display of living orchids in the Tropical Conservatory with an exhibition of orchid treasures from Selby’s bibliographic and preserved collections in the Museum of Botany and the Arts.  

The orchids in the Tropical Conservatory will include Asian specimens from Selby Gardens’ living plant collection.  The display will reference traditional Japanese garden design and horticultural practices, including ikebana, the art of flower arranging; and bonsai, the creation of miniaturized trees, in order to evoke a sense of Asia in the heart of Sarasota.

Inside the Museum of Botany and the Arts, information on Selby’s Asian orchid collection, accompanied by a selection of Asian orchid spirit and herbarium specimens will be on display. The north gallery will feature rare botanical books and prints from the Selby Research Library, coupled with ink paintings and watercolors generously lent by the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach.  The mix of works from Europe and Asia will enable comparisons between different styles of illustration, some representational and scientific, others decorative and symbolic.  

Several exhibition themed events and programs will accompany the show, which runs through Thanksgiving weekend. 

Highlights include the following:

After Hours Festivities

  • November 6, 2019, 6-9 p.m.
    Orchid Evening 

Experience the Orchid Show with an exclusive, after-hours lighted viewing of the latest orchid displays at Selby Gardens. Live entertainment by the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, light bites, wine and craft beer tastings. $60 Selby Gardens Members; $65 Guests.

Talks & Lectures


  • Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Noon-1 p.m. 


Orchid adventures and discoveries in the Land of the Thunder Dragon with Stig     Dalstrom

The government of Bhutan, through the National Biodiversity Centre, invited Stig Dalström in 2006 to visit Bhutan, a small kingdom in the Himalayas, to lead orchid conservation and research programs. Learn about the challenges, rewards, and many unexpected adventures of his research at this lecture.


  • Wednesday, November 13 Noon – 1 p.m.  


Asian Inspired: The Roots of The Orchid Show 2019 with Dr. David Berry Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Special Projects at The Ringling Museum and curator of The Orchid Show: Blossoms of Asia.   

This talk will explore the traditional Asian art forms, such as ikebana and bonsai, which have influenced the design of The Orchid Show 2019.  Learn about the history of these art forms and how they have come to captivate Western audiences. 



  • Wednesday, December 18 Noon to 1 p.m.    


Idealism and Ideology: Orchids in East Asian Ink Painting with Rhiannon Paget, Curator of Asian Art, The Ringling Museum

Orchids have been a favorite subject in East Asian literati-style ink painting for hundreds of years. As one of the “Four Gentlemen,” they are among the first subjects budding artists were expected to master. As well as providing a technical foundation to this art form, orchids also symbolized virtues upheld by the educated elite and conveyed political messages. This talk will discuss the methods of painting orchids and the changing significance they held at different times and places, with particular reference to a set of teaching materials published during wartime Japan on view in the exhibition.

“It’s our pleasure to once again serve as the presenting sponsor for the 2019 Orchid Show. After more than 60 years of cultivating and growing orchids, we are very aware of the diversity and beauty of orchids,” said Rod Hollingsworth, President and CEO of Sun Bulb Company and Better-Gro® Products. “It is a privilege to share our passion for orchids through this outstanding exhibition, and we’re proud to support Selby Gardens in their efforts to preserve, protect and educate people about this remarkable family of plants.”

Major sponsors for The Orchid Show: Blossoms of Asia presented by Better-Gro®include Williams Parker, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Total Wine & More, State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues. 

Visit for more classes and activities, and to purchase tickets. The Orchid Show: Blossoms of Asia presented by Better-Gro® is on display daily, October 12–December 1, 2019.