The American Orchid Society’s judging system is one of the most highly respected horticultural award systems in the world. At nationwide monthly judging and worldwide sanctioned shows, highly trained AOS judges evaluate and recognize new and superior forms of orchid species, improved forms of orchid hybrids and plants exhibiting superior culture.
American Orchid Society judges are dedicated volunteers who serve the membership and the orchid-growing public through participation in the Society's judging system. Each judge has made a sincere, long-term commitment, and gives much of their personal time and resources. AOS Judges are not compensated for their services or travel to various judging events.
The AOS's judging system is comprised of 35 Centers throughout the United States and Canada. These Centers provide opportunities to have plants judged on specified monthly dates. The Centers also provide judging service to AOS-sanctioned shows here and abroad. Center activities are open to visitors who wish to see the judging process in operation or bring their plants to be evaluated. Meeting dates, times, places and contact information are published each month in Orchids magazine as well as on our Events listing. Orchid plants may be submitted for judging using the following guidelines.
All orchid plants or cut flowers submitted at a monthly judging session are candidates for an award. Plants must be entered in the most presentable condition possible.
Judging Center Plant Entry Plants may be entered by the owner in person or by someone else on his/her behalf. The exhibitor completes a single sheet entry form for each plant entered for judging. After an entry number is assigned and annotated on the form by the Judging Center Clerk, the exhibitor places the entry form with the plant on the display table.
Mailed-in Plant Entry
Plants or cut flowers may be submitted by mail to each of the judging centers prior to the day of judging and should be accompanied by an entry form. When plants are mailed, it is the responsibility of the owner/shipper to arrange for their return; cut flowers are not returned. As a courtesy, the owner is advised by mail of judging results.
Becoming an AOS
If an individual has a desire to be an orchid judge and is willing to make this commitment, he/she makes application to the nearest AOS judging center and, if accepted, begins rigorous training for three to five years as a student judge. Upon successfully completing student instruction, the candidate becomes a certified judge, and is granted the authority to judge at any AOS-sanctioned event. However, the status is probationary, and training continues for another three-to-five years before full accreditation is attained. A judge's education must continue through seminars and workshops in order to keep up with continuing taxonomic developments and orchid trends.