35 cents per bulb less than competitors charge for
smaller bulbs. Kevin says, “We blow the competition
out of the yard with a superior-grade bulb and sav-
ings of up to 50 percent. You’ll find many landscape
designers getting their bulbs at Costco.”
To make it easier to see the bulbs so that they
can be checked for premature sprouting, smelled for
mold and felt for size and firmness, Costco bulbs are
packaged in soft bags with breathable mesh and a
see-through window. Easy-to-follow instructions
are individualized for each type of bulb.
Dave Strabo, president of Longfield Gardens,
Costco’s bulb supplier, joins our conversation. He
reports, “Members will never know the care we take
with this bulb program to make it quality from the
ground up. We have totally revised the industry’s
business model. Instead of nurseries, garden centers
and online boutiques getting the cream of the crop,
we deal with growers of impeccable reputation who
ship their superior, high-grade bulbs directly to us.”
A bulb for every season
In order to guarantee the freshest bulbs, Costco’s
bulb program runs within an eight-week window,
with displays continuously refreshed.
Summer bulbs (which require a late-spring
planting after the ground is thawed) first start
appearing in the more southern warehouses around
the ;rst week of January. As the country warms up,
the program spreads north and eastward.
In the fall this process is reversed because
spring-blooming bulbs require three months of
chilling in the ground (below 40 degrees F). Hardy
fall bulbs make their warehouse appearance about
six to eight weeks before the earliest frost in the
colder north ;rst (usually around mid-August) and
then spread south.
Both the spring and fall programs launch with
the “bulbs to bloom” collection ;rst. Next comes the
“enduring blooms” bare-root perennial collection
(spring only). ;e last to arrive are the large mixed-variety landscape groupings.
Bulbs to bloom
;e “bulbs to bloom” collection includes a broad
range of at least 130 selections, with nearly 60 available
at a time, including many new varieties.
Each white bulb bag contains anywhere from four
to 120 bulbs of the same variety and color, as well as
bulbs in two shades of the same color. Member favorites include gladioli, begonias, lilies, cannas and dahlias in the spring and crocuses, da;odils, tulips, irises
and hyacinths in the fall.
On the left, Costco’s gladioli (A) and dahlias
(C) display more and bigger blooms than
many others on the market (B and D).
Perennials are a favorite choice of gardeners,
o;ering a huge variety of form, color and bloom
time and requiring only a minimum of care to keep
them healthy and growing year a;er year. Costco’s
bare-root perennial collection (look for the purple
bags) is available in the spring.
Costco’s mixed landscape varieties are limited
seasonally to 42 mass-planting packages. Filled with
visually stunning combinations of up to 100 varietal
bulbs, each grouping is created exclusively by
Costco. Priced at $19.99 (prices may vary slightly
due to shipping), these blue-bagged, themed combinations are planned to greatly reduce guesswork
and orchestrate exceptional floral fireworks for
shaded or sunny areas.
My particular favorites for this upcoming spring
are “Butter;y Garden,” with a selection designed to
attract hummingbirds and butter;ies; “Cut Flower,”
a collection of plants that give you cut ;owers such
as gladioli and dahlias throughout the summer; and
“Slug Resistant” and “Sun Tolerant” packaged hostas. (Note: Some bulbs, including many summer
bloomers, cannot survive cold winters and must be
dug up, dry-stored and replanted in the spring. If
you want plants that will return year a;er year, look
for the word “perennial” on the package.)
Some Southern and warmer-climate warehouses do not sell bulbs because the weather is simply too hot for them to grow. Costco.com, however,
o;ers a full range of bulbs, including tropicals from
legendary seventh-generation Dutch bulb grower
K. Van Bourgondien & Sons Inc. With up to four
months’ advance reservations possible, these bulbs
are shipped when they are ready to plant based on a
hardiness zone schedule. Savings are up to 42 percent versus the prices o;ered by other online retailers. (Not available for Hawaii.)
Bloomin’ good job, Costco. C
❁ Experiment: Plant bulbs
anywhere you want, even
❁ Compared to annuals,
bulbs offer big blooms of
lilies, glads and more.
❁ The color array in bulbs is
broad, with numerous choices
in hard-to-find purples, blues
and deep burgundy.
❁ Bulbs are typically very forgiving: Even if buried upside
down or sideways they will
do their best to appear.
❁ Take handfuls of bulbs and
gently throw them up in the
air. Plant them where they
land, even in the grass—but
be careful mowing.
FLOWER PHOTOS COURTESY OF LONGFIELD GARDENS
FEBRUARY 2010 ;e Costco Connection 63