Tips for Buying Fall Bulbs
If you want to herald spring with a burst of color, you’ll have to plan ahead, since many bulbs must be planted in fall. Choose a variety of early, mid, and late-season bulbs for a long season of color, and come spring, you’ll be glad you planted early.
(Not sure what will grow in your region? Use American Meadows’ interactive zone map to find the perfect bulbs for your area.
–use animal-resistant bulbs
Tired of waking up in spring to beheaded tulips and disappearing crocus? If you’re in a more wildlife-accessible area, shop for animal-resistant flower bulbs such as alliums, daffodils, fritillarias, and others instead. Here’s a list of candidates from BHG.
–mix it up; be daring
Try something new. Go ahead—order a flowering bulb you’ve never grown before. Don’t be stingy with the numbers of each thing; order more than you usually do for greater impact, – single specimens usually look stringy and sparse.
Budget tip: Naturalizing mixtures (a blend of bulb varieties, such as many different Narcissus) can be good value if you want a less-formal but massed look.
–compare prices, but read the fine print
Prices may vary widely from the catalog to catalog, but don’t be fooled. Some deals in mass-market catalogs are too good to be true. Be sure to read the fine print about what size bulb you’ll be receiving.
–the bigger the better
This is one case where it pays to buy the largest, best-quality bulbs you can afford. This can be confusing since tulips are graded by overall size, but a top size of one variety may not be as large as the top size of another. When choosing daffodils, they are graded according to size and weight. Some varieties have several segments to the daffodil bulb, referred to as double-nose or triple-nose. Smaller bulbs are often available as an affordable alternative or for naturalizing.
–quality bulbs should be relatively heavy for their size.
Avoid bulbs that are lightweight or soft, as they may not develop properly. When dealing with thousands of bulbs, occasionally a bulb of lesser quality will sneak by. Don’t hesitate to set the hose aside.
–avoid bulbs with deep cuts.
It’s virtually impossible to harvest bulbs without a few nicks, and this doesn’t affect the quality of the bulb – but deep cuts can be a site for decay. Loose skins are not a problem either.
–avoid bulbs that show signs of mold or rot, especially if it is at the basal end of the bulb.
Self-explanatory: an infected bulb will be stunted and produce few if any, flowers. A blue, powdery fungus is a sign that the bulbs have gotten wet at some time.
–handle with care.
Be as gentle as possible with your bulbs to avoid bruising.
–store bulbs somewhere cool and dry until the appropriate time for planting.
Open the bags or boxes to increase air circulation.
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