Flower Power at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2019

Travel

A psychedelic flower is part of the opening exhibit at the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show.

There is no surer sign that spring is just around the corner than the arrival of the Philadelphia Flower Show. Each year, visitors from near and far make the pilgrimage to the city’s Center City neighborhood to see the show and its dazzling floral displays that will delight, inspire, and excite. And the Philadelphia Flower Show 2019 simply doesn’t disappoint. With a theme of Flower Power, the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show is modern, fun, and not to be missed!

About the Philadelphia Flower Show

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) brings the 190th Philadelphia Flower Show in 2019. It’s a remarkable achievement that is a must-see for many. It’s hard to believe that when it debuted in 1829 it was the first flower show in the country.

Each year, the show highlights upcoming trends and offers inspiration. Much of the show is a competition, and ribbons and silver cups pop up here and there. In the past, themes have included Wonders of Water and the Netherlands.

A water wheel turns at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2019.

A colorful peace sign in an exhibit at the Flower Show.

Attending the Philadelphia Flower Show 2019

The theme of Flower Power and the subsequent marketing (complete with a Beatles cover band for the opening party and ’60s rock music playing over the loudspeakers), you kind of expect to walk into a bright, wild, and colorful exhibition. The focus, however, is far more nuanced. In reality, the theme is interpreted in a variety of ways. Some placed emphasis on “flower,” creating landscapes that are bursting with blooms. Other, meanwhile, took “power” literally and explored energy itself, and our need to conserve it.

A fun twist on Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2019.

A colorful collection of flowers, including orchids, at the Flower Show.

A real Woodstock vibe at Robertson's Flowers' exhibit.

The major exhibits by landscape designers and florists from around the region and beyond tend to have the largest pieces on display and are right by the entrance. Robertson’s Flowers showed off an earthy play on Woodstock, complete with strands of lights strung above a field with a campsite that felt natural and laidback. Hunter Hayes Landscape Design wowed with an active water wheel and abandoned mill that you can walk through, peek out the windows of, and take in the surrounding plants. Waldor Orchids, meanwhile, maybe brought the most flowers with their columns of tropical plants and orchids set atop a reflecting pool.

The Flower Show is always a wonderful place for education and this year was no different. There is a real emphasis on ecology. This includes highlighting native plants, calling attention to the plight of bees (including an impressive honeycomb-shaped display containing 10,000 Italian honey bees!), and showing off easy DIY projects like bug hotels and insect houses. Williamson College, in particular, had a fascinating exhibition that explained phytoremediation or more simply put: the science of using plants to clean the air, soil, and water.

Williamson Trade School's Flower Show exhibit details how plants can clean soil.

An insect house, or bug hotel, at the Flower Show.

A ornamental honey comb full of 10,000 Italian honeybees at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2019.

Plants Can Feel makes music using the pulse of plants using instruments like an analog synthesizer.

Perhaps the wildest exhibit was the musical plants. Using diodes attached to plant leaves and some instruments like an analog synthesizer, Electricity for Progress and Refugia Designs brought an unexpected electronic avant-garde twist to gardening.

An award-winning schnauzer topiary at the Flower Show.

Rhododendron on display at the Flower Show.

Competitions Show Plants in a Variety of Ways

And no visit to the Flower Show is complete without taking in all of the wonderful amateur competitions, too. From photography to still lifes, window boxes to exceptional plants, there’s such a range to see and enjoy. (And, if you ask me, the fact that the schnauzer topiary didn’t win best in show is just highway robbery — but then I might be a bit schnauzer-biased.)

Yellow Princess Margriet tulips.

Flaming Purissima tulips.

Angelique tulips at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Changes for 2019

There are a few changes for 2019 at the Flower Show. Most notably, the floor plan was slightly different than in previous years. For example, some of the amateur competitions and the botanical drawings extended along the back of the convention center. There also seemed to be more floor space between exhibits, allowing for better flow throughout the convention center. Because the crowds are so large, I think both changes helped.

Carefully arranged exhibit from the Japanese entry to the FTD World Cup 2019.

FTD World Cup 2019

One very unique and new aspect of the Flower Show this year is that it played host to the FTD World Cup 2019. The Olympics of floral design, the competition took place in real-time over the opening weekend of the show. 23 different countries are represented and competed in this contest that takes place every few years.

Although the competition is now over and the winners have been announced, you can still see these thoroughly modern and original works of art. I won’t reveal who the winner is, but you can examine the works up close and decide which you like the first.

Colorful exhibits from the Czech Republic's entry to the FTD World Cup 2019.

Getting Philadelphia Flower Show Tickets

Time is running out! The Flower Show runs through March 10th but tickets are still available. You can buy your ticket online.

Stopping to smell some wild flowers.

Tips for Attending the Flower Show

  • Due to its popularity, you can almost always expect there to be a crowd at the Flower Show. Bring your patience!
  • For the final Friday of the Flower Show, dogs get an invite to the show! Fido Friday allows all ticketed humans to bring their furry friend(s).
  • There’s a lot to see and do at the Flower Show. If you want to take a break to get some air or grab a bite to eat outside of the convention center, no problem! Visitors can get their hand stamped for readmission.

Colorful flowers poke out of an oval nook.

An ornamental bird sits on a tree about to bloom.

Vivid yellow tulips in competition at the Flower Show.

Getting to the Philadelphia Flower Show

The Pennsylvania Convention Center serves as the home for the Philadelphia Flower Show each year. The main portion of the Convention Center spans several blocks. It runs from Broad Street to 11th Street between Race and Arch Streets.

If you’re driving, there are a number of parking garages and lots in the surrounding area.

If you want to opt for public transit, Jefferson Station is the closest major station. Jefferson serves SEPTA’s Regional Rail and with connections to the Market-Frankford Line and a number of bus routes.

Thank you to PHS for hosting me at the show. All photos, as well as all opinions, are my own. This post contains an affiliate link.

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