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Since the big name garden catalogues charge about a dollar a bulb (or more) for some varieties of spring flower, I’ve been economizing buying bags of bulbs from Sam’s Club and Costco, which can go for as low as $9-$13 for 100 bulbs.

After three years of dedicated planting, I noticed something funny.

Some of them will bloom the spring after they are planted, but some don’t. I expect that from cheap bulbs. The second year bulbs taunt me with leaves and no blooms to accompany them.

Daffodils are the easiest thing in the world to grow, so what the heck was I doing wrong? Well, isn’t the internet just dandy? Found this info at the Daffodil Society website.

Transplant shock can cause daffodils to skip a year of bloom. So can improper storage. Even if you get blooms the spring after planting, daffodils will take the next year off and then come back the third year, blooming regularly each year thereafter.

I know a few folks who dug up their cheap bulbs, thinking they were diseased, but bulbs which did not perform for me at all last year have sprung up as winners. So, with a little patience, you can have that showy garden, but you’re going to have to wait at least 3-5 years to get it going. I am relieved to know all that. That’s a lot of digging that didn’t go to waste.
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The cut-rate hyacinth bulbs: a real deal. Three years later, we have 4 times as many as we planted and the scented blooms are glorious. The only problem with them is they are such a tasty temptation for the critters that many disappear after planting, only to spring up 40 feet away in the middle of the yard next season.

Ditto for the crocuses. At $10 for 100, even when the squirrels chow down half, they are a bargain. And the squirrels do some interesting redecorating.

The only sad performance is from the narcissus, which were planted too early. While the packaging recommended October, we have to plant in late November for best results.

My annual membership costs at Costco and Sam’s are paid for in the savings on bulbs alone. And I save enough to buy at least a few of the high quality bulbs every year from garden specialty sources. So if you shop at Sam’s and see those big boxes of cheap plants, give them a go, but know you won’t get good performance for a year or so.

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