Seeds sown for young flower show fanatics

While many think that Philadelphia International Flower Show entrants are blue-haired grandmothers, Philadelphia has a surprising number of high school and college flower fanatics.

At 21, Brandon Huber is already a five-year show veteran. The Northeast native’s main entry this year is a voodoo lily, known by its Latin name of Amorphophallus Konjac. The strikingly beautiful plant earned its name from the rotting-flesh smell it emits.

Huber, who studies horticulture at Temple University and works at Meadowbrook Farm’s greenhouse, learned to love plants “when his grandmother sent him from her house with seedlings and bulbs.”

“My parents used to take me to the flower show when I was 7 or 8 and let me stop at the gift shop and buy seedlings,” he said.

Huber, who already won a horticultural prize this year for growing a 667-pound pumpkin, hopes to pursue a master’s degree in horticulture and “study plant breeding or ways to make plants productive and more resistant to disease.”

The Sprouts Club of the Shipley School, with 20 members, entered about 120 plants in the Flower Show this year, club coordinator Leslie Labess said.

The students work four to five hours a week this month preparing for the show. “The students work so hard that I expect them to come away with 70 to 80 ribbons,” said Labess.

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