Does Bulb Size Matter?
Let’s say you’re shopping for bulbs to plant in your garden. (Hello, that's why you're here!) Maybe you want a some spots of seasonal color in your perennial bed, or perhaps you’re dreaming of large swaths of tulips or daffodils to create a dramatic impact. You’ll need a lot of bulbs, right?
Wouldn't it make sense to buy a bunch of smaller ones for less money?
(And we're not just saying that because we sell bulbs. We say that because we want you to be successful! And size, well, it does matter.)
So does the quality of the bulb itself. But how can you tell if you’re buying the best quality you can get at the size you need? We’re here to break it down for you.
Why are bigger bulbs better?
The short answer is that larger bulbs produce bigger and better flowers. Here's how that happens.
- Stems are sturdier and more numerous on larger flower bulbs. That means more flowers and flower stems that are less likely to flop.
- Flowers are larger, so you get a bigger display immediately.
- The plant, itself is more vigorous and robust, which leads to more spreading and "babies" produced for bulbs that produce offshoots, stronger bloom, and more vigor, long-term.
If you opt for smaller bulbs (see last section below “How are bulbs measured?”), as long as they are the minimum acceptable size for the type of bulb you are planting, you’ll be fine — but the flowers will tend to be both smaller and less plentiful. It's up to you: but if you want a big display, always go for top size right from the start!
What do I need to look for when buying bulbs?
Bulbs should be the minimum size (see below) up to the top size for the type of bulb you are planting.
Regardless of size, though, the bulb needs to be firm. A mushy or soft bulb has not been stored properly and will rot — meaning, you won’t get any flowering from it and will be sorely disappointed. That’s no fun — flowering bulbs are meant to be an exuberant display of color, not a crushing garden fail, right?
At Easy to Grow Bulbs, all of our bulbs are top size and of the highest quality. We source our bulbs from reputable growers so that we can offer you flowering bulbs that are genetically strong and that flower freely and dependably. And we get fresh stock each season so you know you're only planting the best in your garden.
How are flower bulbs measured?
Flower bulbs are measured in centimeters — not inches — around the largest part of the bulb, because the areas of the world where bulbs are usually grown use the metric system of measurement (for those of you who are into math and like to calculate your bulb sizes, 1” = 2.54cm).
Although it can be a bit confusing because American measurements are in inches, once you know what to look for, it’s quite simple. There’s a minimum size and a larger or “top” size.
Remember, the size range also depends upon the type of bulb you are planting — some small bulbs, like crocus or small alliums have minimum bulb sizes of 4cm. Still confused? It’s okay — check this list for minimum and top size measurements of some of your favorite bulb types:
Tulips: Minimum 10cm/Top Size 12cm+
Amaryllis: 24cm/34cm =
Asiatic Lily: 12cm/14cm+
Large Allium: 19cm/20cm+
Small Allium: 4cm/6cm
- Paperwhites: 14cm/17cm+
And then there are the outliers, like our Giant Squill, which can be as big as a basketball!
- Katie Elzer-Peters