Tips for Buying Flower Bulbs

Category Bulbs
The quality of the bulbs you buy will be reflected the the resulting blooms. This is a page about tips for buying flower bulbs.


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September 18, 2008

Bulbs are containers. Each of them houses all of the necessary ingredients (except water) to grow a beautiful flower. It should come as no surprise then, that the quality of the flower you end up with depends a lot on the quality of the bulb you start with. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you shop for bulbs.

Size Matters

There is a direct correlation between bulb size and flower size. This is because large bulbs contain larger food reserves, which in turn, produce larger flowers (or more of them). Always select the largest bulbs of the variety you're planting.

What a Good Bulb Looks Like

A good bulb will look large and plump. You should not see mold, scars, cuts, soft spots, or blemishes anywhere on the surface. The brown paper covering (called the tunic) should be intact, although it's fine if it shows signs of cracking, gaping, or flaking. Avoid bulbs that are discolored, or those showing active growth from the roots or neck (a short green tip shoot at the neck is okay). Bulbs should never appear shrunken or dried out, unless you are shopping for ranunculus or anemone, which always look like they are withered up.

What a Good Bulb Feels Like

A good quality bulb feels firm to the touch. When you poke the base with your index finger, it should feel solid and free of soft spots. When you pick it up, it should feel heavy for its size.

Avoid these:

Selecting Rhizomes, Tubers, and Corms

Rhizomes, corms, and tubers are all bulbous types of plants. Many times, they are all loosely grouped together as bulbs. Whether you are shopping for true bulbs, rhizomes, tubers, or corms, the buying tips are all the same.

Saving Money When Buying Bulbs

Large bulbs come with a higher price tag, so if you're planning to do a large planting, medium grade bulbs may be your best option. You should still get a moderate display of flowers, but stepping down to a slightly smaller bulb can save you a lot of money if you're buying large quantities of bulbs. In general, shop early for the best selection and be prepared to plant your bulbs as soon as possible. Above all, do your research. Know the conditions required to grow what you're buying.

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Bulbs can be purchased in a number places: nurseries, garden centers, home improvement stores, grocery stores, or through mail order catalogs. No one place is necessarily better than another, as long as you know that there are advantages and disadvantages to each.


Garden Centers and Nurseries

How bulbs are sold: often loose in bins, and may be available for purchase individually, or in specific quantities for a set price.



Grocery Stores and Big Box Home Improvement Stores

How bulbs are sold: usually in prepackaged cartons or net bags; occasionally loose in bins.




Mail Order/Specialty Catalogs

How bulbs are sold: presented through images and descriptions in catalogs or online. They may be offered individually or in pre-set quantities. Many also offer bulbs in mixtures, which usually contain several different varieties mixed together (these are packed together and not individually labeled), or in collections, which contain packs of different bulbs of a similar type (usually separated and labeled according to color or type.



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January 19, 2018

One way to save money on bulbs is to check the discounted items at your local garden center or nursery. Many bulbs can be planted throughout the year, even if it is too late for them to bloom the first year. This is a page about saving money on bulbs.

Bulbs Held outside ready to be planted

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