Explore the Beautiful and Unusual World of Bulbs
Bulbs, corms, and rhizomes, known collectively as geophytes, represent a particular life history strategy that has evolved in almost every region of the world, though especially in regions and in habitats where conditions can become less hospitable to plant growth at certain times of the year, particularly in summer.
Bulbs, corms, and rhizomes are underground water and carbohydrate storage structures that allow plants to go dormant and disappear below ground for periods of time to avoid stressful conditions. In addition to surviving winter, these structures are usually designed to help these plants survive periods of heat and drought. They will emerge after a period of dormancy – usually winter – come into leaf and flower – usually in spring and early summer – and then go dormant before the summer heat sets in to bide their time until the following spring. In the time that they are in growth their goals are to produce seed to get their genes into the next generation and to build up energy through photosynthesis to survive to the next season.
There are some exceptions to the normal schedule. Some bulbs are in leaf and flower at different times. The fall-blooming Crocus, Amaryllis belladonna, Drimia (Urginea) maritima, and Colchicum are in leaf in spring, go dormant in summer, and re-emerge to bloom without foliage in fall!
Other bulbs like to avoid the summer heat but are in leaf and flower at unusual times. Arum italicum comes into leaf in the fall remaining green all winter and into spring when the flowers bloom. The seed heads will begin to ripen like drumsticks with green then orange jelly beans through the summer and into the fall but with not a leaf in sight! The hardy Cyclamen (C. coum and C. hederifolium) are dormant during the summer heat emerging into leaf and flower in fall and winter and remaining green until the summer heat returns again.
They say it takes all kinds of people to make a world. You could say the same thing about bulbs. Here’s to celebrating some beautiful and unusual oddball bulbs that make the world (and your garden) such a cool and colourful place! Take a look at the many amazing options we have on offer:
Amarcrinum memoria-corsii ‘Howardii’ has pink amaryllis-like flowers for the late summer garden. Exotic, fragrant and gorgeous.
Naked ladies (Amaryllis belladonna) emerge in late summer with bare stems topped with fragrant, pink, trumpet-shaped flowers.
The painted arum, Arum italicum, is evergreen throughout winter with mottled arrow-shaped leaves.
Calochortus’Cupido’ is a lovely little flower named for a butterfly, offering cup shaped, violet pink blossoms in June.
Colchicum’Harlekijn’ is a unique autumn crocus producing multiple bicolour flowers in white and pinkish purple.
Colchicum ‘The Giant’ is one of the tallest, easiest to grow, and floriferous of the autumn crocus with up to 10 lavender-pink flowers per bulb.
Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ is one of the most beautiful of the autumn crocus producing multiple double-petaled, lavender-pink flowers per bulb.
Colchicum autumnale ‘Alboplenum’ is one of the most beautiful of the autumn crocus with pure white double-petaled flowers.
Colchicum xagrippinum is an easy-to-grow autumn crocus producing multiple flowers that are checkered with pink and white.
Dichelostemma ‘Pink Diamond’ has lavender-pink, light pink and white flowers.
Firecracker flower is a distinctive Dichelostemma with cool red, green and white tubular flowers held in clusters.
Dracunculus vulgaris is topped with a lurid 18 inch burgundy spathe with a columnar purple-black spadix.
Giant sea squill, Drimia (Urginea) maritima, produces huge bulbs with dramatic leathery leaves and amazing 4-6 foot tall spikes of white star-like flowers.
Gladiolus carneus is a South African native with large flowers in shades from white through pink with dark pink markings.
Gladiolus nanus ‘Elvira’ has orchid-like, palest pink flowers with bold dark pink spots and a dark pink throat.
Gladiolus nanusis a smaller, hardy gladiola. ‘Nymph’ has white florets with pretty, hot pink markings.
Hyacinthoides non-scripta ‘Bakkum Blue’ is a vivid dark blue form of the fabled common or English bluebell.
Ixia ‘Venus’ is an exotic South African iris relative called a wand flower with glowing magenta flowers.
Lycoris sprengeriis a spectacular surprise lily with blue and pink flowers.
Nectaroscordum siculum ssp. bulgaricum is an onion relative forming loose umbels of delicate, bell-shaped flowers atop 3 foot tall stems.
Nectaroscordum tripedale is a rare onion relative that forms loose umbels of bell-shaped, glowing, light pink flowers atop 3-4 foot tall stems.
Ornithogalum arabicum forms fragrant clusters of white, star-like flowers with glistening, jet black central ovaries.
Ornithogalum dubium is unusual in its genus for having bright tangerine orange flowers rather than white and green centres.
Pancratium maritimum has long, strap-like leaves and gorgeous, intricate, daffodil-like flowers that resemble an icy star.
Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Flore Pleno’ is the exquisite double form of bloodroot with pure white, starry, pompoms in early spring.
Scilla hyacinthoides ‘Blue Arrow’ looks like a rocket ship of starry blue flowers erupting from out of the border.
Portuguese squill, Scilla peruviana, has strap-like leaves and an exotic dome of small, star-like, royal blue to purple-blue flowers.
Tecophilaea cyanocrocus ‘Leichtlinii’ is a rare form of the Chilean blue crocus with white flowers tipped with rich, sky blue.
Tecophilaea cyanocrocus ‘Storm Cloud’ is a rare form of the Chilean blue crocus with white flowers tipped with lavender and bluish lavender in early spring.
Tecophilaea cyanocrocus ‘Violacea’ has velvety purple-blue flowers in early spring with thin white stripes.
Tecophilaea cyanocrocus has exquisite gentian blue flowers with white stripes. Amazing.
Triteleia ‘Rudy’ is a gorgeous hybrid with umbels of up to 25 funnel-shaped, white flowers with a glowing purple stripe down the middle of each tepal.
At Phoenix Perennials, we offer a wide range of rare and unusual bulbs each year for pre-ordering through the summer and fall for pick-up or shipping in late September and early October. From July to October you can order at https://mailorder.phoenixperennials.com. Should supplies last, we may also have them available potted up in early spring.