10 Quick Tips On How To Shop For Flower Bulbs

Ilona Erwin

Step right up to bins and shelves full of Dutch imported flowering wonder, it’s time to choose colorful spring blooms.If you wish to make the most of your buying choices, check out these top tips for finding the best from this the array of flower bulbs.

buying flower bulbs

September kicks off many things for gardeners, but fall planted bulbs top the list.

Here is a quick rundown of things to look for to remind you of how to get the best bulbs for your money. You will have a good show next year.

How To Shop For Bulbs: Top Tips

1 Be frugal, but check the bulb size numbers first. Keep notes on what a healthy, good value size bulb looks like for the species you are planting. For instance, tulips should be about 14 cm and crocus at 7-8 cm. are a good buy.


Black Blend Tulips – 24 bulbs

Words like “top size” are good.

Beware of those ads that promise scads of bulbs for a low price. However, discounted mixes are often a very happy way to purchase lots of daffodils or tulips.

2 Size is very important, but so is “weightiness”. Especially when looking for some bargains late in the season, the bulbs should not feel light for their size. Storage in heated stores may mean they have lost moisture and are not as healthy. Pick the heaviest ones.

3 Stretch the season with early, mid, and late season varieties. Check the labels for time of bloom and choose from a mix of times for the longest possible show. Tulips, Daffodils, Alliums are all choices for this sequential flowering.

4 Think Big. Not just in size, but number. This is a case where more is better. A group of twenty to thirty tulips, all the same, in a group has more impact than three times the number spread all over the yard in bitty touches.

In the case of daffodils or minor bulbs which have naturalizing capabilities, if you have patience you can divide and multiply. As wonderful as that is, I recommend buying bigger amounts at the outset. It is more satisfying those first couple of Spring seasons.

5 Explore the world of bulbs. Add a few new items each year, who knows if they are happy in your particular garden, and give a unique accent. Fall is time to buy Lilies, Fritallarias, Eremurus, Resurrection Lilies, and more…

6 Purchase shade tolerant types. Give shady spots consideration, especially if they have light in the spring before the deciduous plants leaf out. Eranthis, English Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), Wood Hyacinths (Hyacinthoides hispanica), Wildflower bulbs like Trout lily.

No bulb will grow well in deep shade.

7 Beware of critters. Knowing that squirrels and mice eat bulbs as a main course meal, take steps to repel them. Buy bulbs they dislike, to plant alone or around those they snack on. Animal resistant combos: Daffodils with crocus, Frittilaria with Tulips.


Pink Mix Daffodils – 10 bulbs

Consider using hardware cloth boxes buried underground to hold your bulbs away from the pests.

8 Buy local. I know those catalogs have exotic offerings and pages of temptation, but when you buy locally, you support the nurseries in your area, have opportunity to see and feel the bulbs, and can deal with any disappointments easier.

I have switched almost exclusively to buying from my favorite local nurseries in recent years. However, I realize that ordering online or from a catalog can’t be beat for convenience, and deals.

9 Make way for the Minors. Some of the most charming bulbs to buy are the small ones, the Snow Crocus, Snowdrops, Scillas, Chionodoxias, Eranthis, Muscari. Buy these to start pools of color near the path or by the door.

They bloom extra early, too.


Blue Pearl Species Crocus – 10 bulbs

10 Buy early. For many reasons, it is a good idea to go out and buy your bulbs at the beginning of the season. (This tip goes double when ordering from a catalog). Better bulbs, greater selections, and the best weather for planting.

After You Buy, How To Plant

I think I have majored in bulbs in gardening, and wrote plenty of how-to articles and tutorials. After you buy them, delve into the information on planting.

Remind Me How To Grow Tulips

Minor Bulbs

More Dutch Bulbs Quicktips

Why Plant A Bulb Garden?

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.