Where to Buy Spring Bulbs for Your Garden

Daffodil bulb package.png
I did a quick tour of Home Depot and Menards to see what they were selling this year in terms of spring garden bulbs. These are the bulbs, corms and rhizomes, you plant between now and before the ground freezes, that will bloom in the spring.

Home Depot had the standard fare like tulips, daffodils, alliums and anemones. Stopped at Menards and they a bigger variety of garden bulbs and cooler cultivars, but they also had perennials like daylilies, bearded and Dutch irises at reasonable prices.

The Menards garden centers also had bagged bulbs, which can save you a few dollars by buying in bulk, bags of 50 daffodils were marked $8.49. In the past I've seen bulk bulbs available in Sam's Club too and I usually buy my crocus and tulip bulbs at the grocery chain Aldi because they are pretty inexpensive.

Some suggestions.

If you're planting your garden for the first time, start with a design--even if you are just sketching out where the plants will go on a piece of paper with a pencil. This will help you remember where you planted things and keep you from digging up or damaging bulbs in the spring when you add annuals or perennials. Most of the packaging will give you a measurement of how tall your plants will be when they bloom, so make sure you plant the shorter plants at the front of the garden bed and the taller ones in the back.

Buying packaged bulbs from big box garden centers is a bit of a gamble. In the spring you may discover a flower that doesn't look like the one on the picture of the package. It is annoying, but something you have to come to accept when buying bulbs at large garden centers. If you're buying something because you want the exact flower on the package, try one of the high end garden centers around Chicago or buy from specialty garden bulb growers where you could always complain and try to get a refund of exchange.

Right now that the ground is still workable, I like to break up the soil where I'm going to plant bulbs this fall. I do this so I'm not trying to work wet and cold soil in late October. I usually buy bulbs when they go on clearance near November when these big box garden centers are looking to make room for Christmas decorations. Since I will wait out the garden centers and don't buy until the prices go down I'm cutting it close to the time the ground freezes in Chicago. Having the area prepped in advance allows me to plant any last minute deals I come across before it is too late to plant them.

You can make planting easier by building raised beds in your garden, raised beds are not just for vegetable gardens. Raised beds also make your garden a bit portable if you're a renter in Chicago or just gardening on land you don't own. A raised bed can be disassembled, the plants removed, and the area returned to what it looked like before with a little work without leaving huge holes in the ground.

Update:

Came across this info that I thought I'd pass on for people looking for bulb sources in the Chicagoland area.

Bulb Bazaar 2009 at The Chicago Botanic Garden's Regenstein Center.

Friday, October 2nd. Hours for Members only are from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. General public can buy from 1 to 5 p.m. Over 200 varities of daffs, tulips, alliums, and other specialty bulbs direct from Holland.

Also at the CBG this month.

Midwest Daffodil Society Bulb Sale
October 17 and 18, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The
Midwest Daffodil Society's bulb sale features many varieties of unique
and easy-to-grow daffodils for the gardener who wants some early color
next spring.

Wisconsin-Illinois Lily Society Lily Bulb Sale
October 17 and 18, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A wide variety of lily bulbs will be available for purchase at the Wisconsin-Illinois Lily Society's annual sale.

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