There is a direct relationship between bulb size, bulb health, and flowering capacity during the first year or two after planting. Therefore, it is wise to purchase large, healthy bulbs from a reputable nursery. Success can be had by obtaining bulbs supplied by friends or neighbors if they are of adequate size and harvested from healthy plants. If the source is unknown, it is best to pass up the freebies for something of known value.
Do not purchase bulbs that seem very dry or shriveled. Also avoid bulbs that are soft or discolored. If purchasing bulbs sold several to a package, try to inspect each bulb. Try to avoid purchasing spring flowering bulbs like daffodils that have begun to sprout prematurely. In general, fresh, healthy bulbs should not have an odor. The exceptions to this are fritillaria bulbs, which have a distinctive, skunk-like smell.
Use care in handling some bulbs, such as hyacinth, which contain substances that can cause mild allergic reactions or skin irritations in some people.
Store bulbs in a cool, dark, dry location before planting. Try to plant your bulbs as soon after purchasing as possible.