NZOS Judging System

At some point in their journey, every orchid enthusiast encounters or hears tales of an award-winning orchid. But what does this accolade signify? And why was that particular plant honoured with an award? 

The New Zealand Orchid Society (NZOS) Judging System is a platform where orchid plants and flowers are examined and evaluated by accredited NZOS judges.  

The NZOS has crafted its own judging system, aiming to advance the recognition and appreciation of member’s orchids. 

In 1976, a significant milestone was reached when the NZOS submitted all of its judged awards to the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society in England. This submission resulted in the international recognition of the NZOS Judging System, validating our judges’ exceptional standards and expertise. 

Plants can be assessed for an award at our monthly meetings and shows or by special request from the Judging Registrar. Please email the NZOS Secretary to arrange 

The ultimate is to have your plant recognised as the orchid of the year. 

Plants are assessed using the following characteristics:

  • Flower form.
  • Colour.
  • Size.
  • Substance and texture.
  • Habit and arrangement of inflorescence.
  • Floriferousness.

 Regular training sessions are held to ensure our judges’ continuous education & development. 


Judging Registrar

Leigh Leaity is the Registrar for the NZOS judging system and is supported by her husband, Mike. Both have years of experience growing and judging orchids and freely share this information with the club members. 


How Does the NZOS Judging System Work

Submitting a plant is relatively easy. The leaves should be clean and the flowers fresh with no signs of insects or diseases. Ideally the plant should be quite mature and not blooming for the first time so that the full potential can be seen.  

The plant will be judged and maybe awarded one of the following:

  • First Class Certificate (FCC/NZOS).
  • Award of Merit (AM/NZOS).
  • Highly Commended Certificate.
  • Award of Distinction (AD/NZOS) – for orchids with distinct characteristics in colour, form, or unique features.
  • Cultural Certificate (CC/NZOS) – for any well-cultivated flowering orchid (species or hybrid), judged on bloom quantity relative to plant and container size.
  • Plant Breeders Award (PBA/NZOS) – for exhibiting at least six different clones of the same grex, recognised for quality, outstanding colour, export potential, or new breeding lines.
  • Certificate of Botanical Merit (CBM/NZOS) – awarded to a well-grown and flowered rare species or natural hybrid, showing improvement over the typical standard for these categories.

Awarded plants are published within OCNZ literature and in the New Zealand Orchid Council journal..