Ethics of surplus bulbs

August 24, 2019

Category: Bulb Information

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Is there any objection to giving away loads of good show-quality bulbs, especially if they are still being sold by the originator?

For instance, I have lots of some excellent Reed and Weir bulbs, many more than I want to replant.  I wonder if giving away 20+ bags of a single variety at fall swaps harms our last few sources of specialty bulbs, but what else do I do with them?  Giving most of them to garden friends, family, and random strangers seems like a waste of show potential.



12 responses to “Ethics of surplus bulbs”

  1. Ian Tyler, England Ian Tyler says:

    Kathleen, It is my opinion that you purchased the bulbs you can give them
    to anyone you wish.
    In my early days in daffodil many friends sent me bulbs I could never dream
    of owning.
    Once purchased from the originator you contact is complete.
    Unfortunately now I think I know what I’m doing no one sends me bulbs

  2. Matt Duddy, Pennsylvania Matt Duddy, Pennsylvania says:


    You can send them all to me.



  3. Jason Delaney, Missouri Jason Delaney, Missouri says:

    What Matt said!

    If they are extra to you and you do not need them, then they hold no special value for you, so donate them to individuals or organizations who can use them in any capacity, neverminding that they may be exhibition varieties—a daffodil is a daffodil is a daffodil, and any daffodil is better than none if said recipients currently don’t have any.  School groups, churches, local parks, and even other local organizations who may have fundraisers that could use your leftovers for their benefit (auction item, etc.) should be considered.  Really, who cares if it’s an exhibition or garden variety:  any school that has an outdoor learning environment that can plant bulbs for pretty flowers should be given top consideration.   At the end of the day, in your local daffodil club there are surely members who do not currently grow what you have extra, and you can always share with them your bounty. Annually, I give away a few thousand bulbs, typically to whomever asks for them—public parks, garden club group projects, and school groups get first priority.  Surplus bulbs that I am giving away in no way hamper the sales of other daffodil growers, and your giveaways won’t, either.  Be generous and feel good about it!  

  4. Suzy Wert says:

    John Reed specifically told me that he doesn’t care. Once you’ve acquired them, they are yours to do with as you wish. (I had asked him a few years ago when I did the first ADS Fall Bulb Exchange.)

  5. Lynn Hoffmann, Pennsylvania says:

    I’ve run out of friends to give daffodils to.  I found a new outlet – the spring plant sales for local garden clubs.  I dig/divide my bulbs while they are still green, a few days before the sale.  I package them up 5 to 12 or so bulbs to a bag (depending on what I paid) and provide a description/color photo and planting instructions for each package.  The last club sold all, totaling about $1,000.  These reach a new audience of “spring planters,” many of whom have never though about planting daffodils.


  6. Sara Van Beck says:

    Kathleen –

    I/we of GDS also give bulbs to horticultural therapy programs at rehab centers
    Some are given to residents who pot as part of therapy, rest go straight into the grounds for beautification
    We started that after a GDS member family asked us to donate to a rehab center who’d taken good care of their mother/grandmother
    After a number of years now, apparently the place puts on a good show for everyone who works/visits there
    And as the primary hort therapist circuit rides to other facilities in the network group, so go more GDS bulbs~


  7. Matt Duddy, Pennsylvania Matt Duddy, Pennsylvania says:

    Mr. Hoffmann,


    How dare you dig bulbs up while they’re still green!  Don’t you know that harms them?


    It’s AWFUL!


    There’s only one thing worse:




  8. Matt Duddy, Pennsylvania Matt Duddy, Pennsylvania says:

    In case you missed it, that was a little joke on Mr. Hoffmann.

    I don’t think there are any adverse effects from transplanting in the green. And using excess bulbs to raise money is the best course of action.

    Mr. Hoffmann doesn’t post much, but happens to have one of the finest collections around. Anyone would be fortunate to get his excess, and I can easily see how that much money was raised.



  9. David Adams, New Zealand says:

    The problem of the ethics of sharing is a problem. I always take the view that when I sell a new introduction then the remaining stock becomes worthless because, as expensive bulbs multiply, we like to share the surplus with our mates. As we rarely use PVR then there really is a free market. Fortunately for a commercial grower there is still a sales demand until this multiplication occurs or if the buyer has no mates.

    If someone has given me a new bulb then I try to remember to ask their permission before I list it in my catalogue. Theirs is a gift to me to add to my show collection. To make a personal profit from someone’s kindness seems unethical to me.

  10. Clay Higgins, New Jersey Clay Higgins2 says:


    If you still have them, I’d love to have some of the Reed and Weir Bulbs. The last two years, I gave away (or fire sold) thousands of my bulbs. I now have a fraction of the bulbs that I used to grow. I started ordering daffodil bulbs too late this years. My order to Scamp was rejected by the computer. Just never got my orders in.

    I’m now established in New Jersey with daffodil beds that need planting this fall. I can use as many bulbs as I can get. I’m willing to buy, pay postage exc. Let me know if some are still available.


  11. Nancy Fuchs, Virginia says:

    The newly established Gloucester Daffodil Club would LOVE to have bulbs. Their bulb swap is in November.

    Virginia Daffodil Society could use some too–Clay Higgins has been our mainstay in past years, but he’s in transition how. Our bulb swap meeting is set for Oct 5.

    Happy to reimburse for shipping costs.

  12. Kathleen Simpson, West Virginia says:

    I just got back from a trip and was a bit surprised to see how many commented.  Thanks for the helpful ideas, and the reassurances.