Buying flower bulbs online: What to consider?

Top size

When buying your flower bulbs, as a rule of thumb, the bigger the better.  Larger size bulbs may cost a little bit more, but the often very small incremental investment is certainly worth it.   Larger bulbs produce larger, much more impressive, flowers and with certain varieties even multiple flowers.

There are exceptions however.  Top size doesn’t always have to mean the biggest bulbs available.  Perhaps we should be speaking of the “optimal” size.  With hyacinths for the garden for example, the very largest sizes (18+) tend to produce such heavy flowers that their stems can often not support them and they will tip over easily.  Below you will find a table with what we believe are “optimal” bulb sizes*:

 Tulip  12 / + Freesia   5/6 
 Daffodil   12/14 Anemone    6/7
 Hyacinth  16/17 Muscari  8/9
 Crocus   7/8 (5 / + Specie) Galanthus Nivalis  6/7
 Allium   18/20 Ranunculus   5/6
 Fritillaria   20/24 Dutch Iris   8/9
 Amaryllis   30 / + Sparaxis              4/5
 Dahlia    I  Ixia  4/5
 Gladiolus   12/14 (8/10 Nanus) Tigridia   7/9
 Begonia   5/6 Nerine Bowdenii  12/14
 Lily   14/16 Canna   I
 Zantedeschia  14/18 Crocosmia 8/10
 Convallaria Majalis  I    

* Please bear in mind though that flower bulbs are a product of nature and therefore dependent on the weather.  It may be that in a particular season growing conditions have been poor and therefore the largest sizes not always available in large quantities, in which case it may be that the next available size will have to be accepted.

Flower bulb storage

In general, we recommend avoid storing your bulbs for a prolonged period if at all possible.  Plant your bulbs as soon as possible upon receipt.  When (pre) ordering your bulbs, try to find a supplier who will deliver the bulbs to you at the correct planting time.  Professional flower bulb companies have climate-controlled facilities to store and treat your bulbs under optimal conditions.  They will most likely also subject your bulbs to a final health check before they are packed and shipped to you. 

Be particularly vigilant at the end of the bulb buying season (October/November for spring flowering bulbs and May/June for summer flowering bulbs) that you do not end up buying left over stock as these bulbs may have been on display or stored for weeks or months in a store in sub-optimal conditions.

Quality guarantee

Always try to buy top quality from a reputable source.  Not all bulb suppliers provide a flowering guarantee, but some do, so look for them!  Clearly the customer would still have to treat the bulbs responsibly and follow the correct procedures, but that goes without saying. 

Specialist online bulb shops often provide superior quality bulbs at competitive prices, as their products come direct from the source and have not been “floating” for prolonged periods of time in sub-optimal conditions in long distribution channels or stores.

Delivery and other charges

When comparing prices, always check the “small print”.  Low flower bulb prices with unexpectedly high shipping, and perhaps other supplemental, charges at the check out stage should annoy any online shopper.  Similarly, offers of “free shipping” should always be checked for caveats.  Always check the total, all-inclusive price before handing over your payment card details!


There are often very good deals to be found online, offering great value for money, so do explore these!


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