Hello, my fellow gardeners.
If you lean in close and not let others look over your shoulder, I’ll share some of my bulb buying secrets with you. Secrets you need now, in the spring.
Let’s get started.
Secret Tip 1: Look Around You Right Now
Look around your garden and see where there are bare spots, places where maybe you plant annuals later in the spring, or just cover with mulch. Those might be good places to plant bulbs in the fall for spring flowers.
Do this several times in the spring— early spring, mid-spring, late spring— and notice how or if the bare spots begin to fill in with other plants.
Secret Tip 2: Take some Pictures
Get out your smartphone and take some pictures of those bare places in your garden right now, and throughout the spring. Then file those pictures someplace where you’ll be able to find them in the fall when you start planting bulbs.
I use Trello to park things like my pictures of bare spots to be filled in with bulbs so I can easily go back and find them when I need them. (Check out my YouTube video on more about my Trello boards.)
Secret Tip 3: Buy Bulbs Early
Most of us order bulbs from online sources. (Though who hasn’t picked up an odd package of bulbs from the big box stores on occasion?) Did you know most of those sources will open up their websites for orders for fall-planted bulbs fairly soon?
One of my sources shows on their website that they will be ready for fall pre-orders by mid to late April.
By ordering early, you’ll avoid the disappointment of “sold out” on that favorite tulip you definitely must have so next spring won’t be ruined for you.
Most of these online vendors won’t charge your credit card until they get ready to pull your order and ship it in the fall. Other sources will offer you a discount if you’ll let them charge your card now.
Secret Tip 4: Visit Other Gardens to See Some Bulbs in Action
If you live near a public garden that has a big spring bloom display, visit them now and see the flowers in action for yourself.
Many will have all those varieties of daffodils, tulips, and more clearly labeled. Take a picture of that tulip you love and then take a picture of the label so you won’t have to remember.
All you’ll have to remember is to go back and look at your pictures. You’ll see that tulip, then swipe and the next picture is of the label with the name of that tulip.
Secret Tip 5: Make Your Own Bulb Flower Color Board
If having all your flowers match in the spring is important to you, as you plan out your spring bloom bonanza, consider grabbing pictures of all the flowers you are planning to buy and putting them together on a board of some kind.
You can use a private digital board on Pinterest, or throw them all up on your own PowerPoint slide.
Or, go old school with a paper catalog. Cut out pictures of the flowers you are thinking of buying and arrange them on your kitchen table to see how you like the combos.
Don’t have any bulb catalogs yet this year? The bulbs offered for sale year to year don’t change that much so if you still have last spring’s catalogs, cut ’em up.
And a bonus tip from one of the horticulturists who led my garden club on a recent tour of the bulbs in bloom at Newfields. Be sure to include a picture of your house on your color board, especially if you are planting the bulbs with the house in the background. It makes a difference how colors show up in the garden if the backdrop of the house is dark or light.
Bonus Secret: Where I Buy Bulbs
In no particular order and I love them all, I buy from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, John Scheepers Bulbs, Van Engelen Bulbs, and Old House Gardens. When you visit these sites, you will note they also sell bulbs for summer flowers. Those might be just what you need to fill in that bare spot now before you plant bulbs there in the fall.
And those are my secrets for buying bulbs for spring flowers!
Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening says
Great tips Carol. Bulbs always add a nice touch to the garden in springtime and signal the season has arrived!
Shirley Flanagan says
Thanks so much, Carol, for allowing use of your bulb article in our June issue. We have readers almost around the world. Love the photos that enhance your article too. Since your article was a little long for our publication, one of our volunteer editors condensed it. I hope this is okay. Thanks again.