Buying bulbs in the fall for spring blooms is great fun. There are so many colors and types of flowers to choose from. Irises are perennial bulbs that produce papery, richly colored flowers on tall stalks. The bulbs are actually rhizomes, which means they are not always round like a tulip bulb, but instead can have several heads coming off the main part. Check bulbs carefully before buying them to make sure they're healthy and most likely to produce beautiful blooms.
Pay attention to how the bulbs are sold. Iris bulbs should be stored in a cool, dry place, so it's best to purchase them from places that know how to care for bulbs.
Check the date on the bulb package. Iris bulbs need to be fresh to produce healthy flowers. If the bulbs are more than a year old, don't buy them. If the bulbs aren't sold in packages, only buy them from a trusted source that you know sells fresh bulbs.
Pick up the bulb and feel its weight. The bulb's weight should be proportionate to its size. If the bulb feels very light, it is no good.
Squeeze the bulb and gently press the tip and the roots to make sure they feel firm. Iris bulbs should feel uniformly firm and solid. If a bulb is soft or has soft patches, don't buy it.
Examine the iris bulb's head and roots to check for signs of mold or rot, and check the body of the bulb for cuts and blemishes. Bulbs with brown or black spots or white, fuzzy patched should be discarded.