Bulbs, bulbs bulbs...


Ok, I just spent the last 3 hours researching bulbs.  Yes, I said 3 hours.  You should expect a learning curve when you are new to something.  But this curve was super steep and frustrating might I add.  So last year I learned you plant bulbs in the fall–lesson number one.  And that is about it. I bought my bulb mix from Lowes…not that there is anything wrong with Lowes…just they have the most limited selection and as I have just found out on this bulb research adventure…they have limited quality too.

So with credit card in hand, I was ready to buy some bulbs.  I googled best bulbs to plant in NC…did I get any recommendations–not online.  This is when my frustration began and reinforced why Chris and I decided to write this blog.  e-access to good NC garden research. If the google gods decide to be nice to us, perhaps next time you are looking to shop for bulbs, this post will come up tops–bulb buying guide for NC beginner gardeners.

Actually Chris and I are both writing post on this subject…one from a veteran…and one a beginner–that’s me.

Bulb Buying Guide for NC Beginner Gardeners:

1) Read the starter article from Chris about buying bulbs. This will give you a good plan to start from. Pick your places to plant and set that budget.  Don’t forget all the bulbs you buy…you have to plant. I remember when blog reader Linda Watson commented on a post–bulb buying frenzy ending with 500 to plant.  Oh my…my back hurts thinking of that.

2)Ask your friends what grows in their garden(psst…by reading this you are asking your friends too–that is why we started the blog).

I asked Chris what she grows in her garden.  We started on Daffodils–she spouted off litany of names. I couldn’t write down fast enough.  Her big advice was to plant flowers that extend the season.  Translation: pick some that bloom early(i.e. Feb like Feb Gold Daffodil) and then ones that bloom late  like spider lily (Lycoris) blooming Aug-Oct.


Spider lily is a late season bloomer: Aug.-Oct


3)Beginners should start with common flowers.  You know the ones you see everywhere.  I was a little frustrated with this point because I was ready to jump to that uber-groovy-cool-rare-thing-TonyAvent-planted…but not a wise move for 3 reasons:

  • You want to enjoy the fruits of your labor
  • You want to get the most out of your dollar
  • You want to have success so you have more garden confidence for years of gardening to come

4)Volume is key for the beginner gardener. Why? Because you haven’t had enough time or money to accumulate plants and 10 bulbs don’t cover much ground.  Plus, most bulbs look more dramatic in large clumps around borders or in little woods. If you are thinking of buying…start with 25 or 50.

5)Skip the mix.  I was going to go this route.  It meant I didn’t have to research, and I could just easily order 3 mixes…early to late and be done with it all.  Actually, Chris and I debated about.  She was right…I was lazy, and I will thank her for talking me off the mix-buying-ledge.  Why? Because they usually are filled with stuff no one wants and the big rule on all plant buying…just ’cause they sell it doesn’t mean they grow here.

Tip: When you look at the catalog apparently they only list cold hardiness zones…not warm hardiness.  I looked at the daffodils and saw zone 4–i said I know they grow here in zone 7 why do they say the former?  Apparently gardening traditions come from England, so they just list cold hardiness.

So what did I buy?

I went on a daffodil tirade–50 each of these:


Baby Moon Daffodils


  • February Gold
  • Thalia
  • Baby Moon (jonquils which i found out is a sexy word for small)
  • Ice Follies

Hyacinth–one of my favorites…these were the dutch ones.  Their fragrance is bar none. 10 of each of these.

They should have said...Stop to smell the Hyacinth instead of roses...

  • King of Blues
  • Pink Pearl
  • Carnegie

Lycrosis(Spider lily) radiutas (25) and one type of tulip called “hearts delight”(50).  I have been warned that often tulips don’t do well here in the south.  I was sad, but am going to give it a go any way.  I chose a variety that are known to grow well here–the perennial variety.


Hearts Delight Tulip


I had more in my cart but, luckily I had my plan.  Yeah there are over 200 bulbs here. When they arrive, you will need to make sure you put the right ones in the right places–this bulb planting guide will help me–Thanks Terra Ceia Farm!. But…I can handle it…if not, perhaps I will have a bulb-planting party at my house 😉

Bulb Planting Depth Guide

You still have time to order your bulbs.  I hope this bulb buying guide for NC beginner gardeners helps.

So what are you favorite bulbs? Share with your friends your recommendations.

Happy Gardening.