Monday, July 27, 2009

Buying Bulbs

When buying bulbs it helps to have a keen eye and the ability to walk away from what may look like a deal. I've bought bulbs from catalog companies, online retailers, local garden centers, and discount superstores. I have had successes and failures in all places. The most sure answer on the best place to shop, is a complex problem of matching the level of assistance you need, the speed you need it in, and cost.

If you shop online, shop at a well known retailer. The high-end retailers will cost more, but the bulbs tend to be larger, disease free, come with a limited guarantee, and give a great show when they emerge. These companies take pride in their product.

Shopping at your local garden centers tends to be the most expensive route. Not to give the fuzzy end of the lollipop to the local shops, along with the price, you can get live suggestions and advice. The real charm in buying local though, is the ability to pick the healthiest bulbs available. Like picking produce in the store, you get to sort through the lot and find the ones that look the best to you. See below about what characteristics to avoid.

Don't discard the discount superstores. Frequently, the bulbs sold in bulk at these stores tend to be smaller in size and have a higher occurrence of disease, but the prices are more promising. This doesn't mean that all bulbs are diseased. It does mean that as a consumer, you need to take time and look at the bags of bulbs.

No matter where you buy your bulbs, check for the following signs to prevent buying diseased bulbs: Dark spots, soft spots, rotting bulbs, mold growing in the bag or on the bulbs, or dried, shriveled bulbs. If you see any of these traits in a bulb, skip it. It's not worth it. You might be saving more than money by keeping your gardens disease free. Starting with strong healthy bulbs will go a long way to getting the desired results in your garden and is always worth the extra look.
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