5 Great Groups for Rhode Island Gardeners

From orchids to carnivorous plants, there's a society for that.

In Rhode Island, there’s an avid gardener behind every bush. Name a flower or plant, and chances are there’s a group for people dedicated to growing it. The best part: each society’s members will welcome you to meetings and flower shows.


The Ocean State Orchid Society and the Rhode Island Orchid Society

oceanstateorchidsociety.org; riorchidsociety.org
The dirt on meetings: The Ocean State Orchid Society meets the second Saturday of every month. Learn how to pot orchids or listen to expert guest speakers. Bring your problem, and get advice. The RI Orchid Society hosts a lecture for both beginners and experienced enthusiasts the last Saturday of each month at the Roger Williams Botanical Center, where it maintains the orchid display.

Upcoming event: The Ocean State Orchid Society’s annual auction is in April, and it enters three yearly orchid shows, often winning for its themed display. The RI Orchid Society celebrates its anniversary month each September with a special activity at the Botanical Center.

Fun fact: With 35,000 varieties of orchids, predicting when an individual plant will produce a flower is challenging. One society member, now in his mid-eighties, had one plant for twenty years with nary a bloom on it, until finally, one day, it did.


The Rhode Island Dahlia Society

The dirt on meetings: Held the first Sunday of most months at Cold Spring Community Center in North Kingstown. Learn how to stage dahlias for a show and store the tubers over winter.

Upcoming event: May 1 tuber and plant sale (the month to plant dahlias); the RI Dahlia Society Show, September 10−11 (when dahlias are in their prime).

Fun fact: Dahlias come in many colors, sizes and forms, like balls, singles, anemones, orchids, pompons, water lilies and more. There’s so much variation because they have eight sets of chromosomes, compared with most other flowers that have two.



New England Carnivorous Plant Society

The dirt on meetings: The second Saturday of each month at Roger Williams Botanical Center, there could be a plant silent auction, an introduction to rare carnivorous plant species or a bog-building workshop. Bring your own Venus Fly Trap for show and tell. Members will say, “That’s how we all started!”

Upcoming event: NECPS Carnivorous Plant Show at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts, Sept. 10−11.

Fun fact: Carnivorous plants have a creepy reputation. More than 600 species trap insects and sometimes small animals (Never leave your pet mouse alone with a tropical pitcher plant). But they can also be dainty and beautiful. One NECPS member has a couple thousand plants in his small home and yard.


The Rhode Island Rose Society

The dirt on meetings: Usually the second Saturday of the month at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. A consulting rosarian answers questions or there will be a rose-related presentation, such as rose care or photography. Sample topic: what to do about black spots on leaves.

Upcoming event: The Rhode Island Rose Show on June 18, at the height of the blooming season. Oh, the fragrances.

Fun fact: Newly cultivated rose varieties are often named after famous people, like Dolly Parton. In this state, we have Brownell roses. Years ago, Walter Brownell of Little Compton developed rose varieties. Nearly Wild is the easiest to find. The society’s members keep his other roses — including Rhode Island Red — alive by passing cuttings along to each other.