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Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 73: Unusual Bulbs

Video by Danielle Sherry and Steve Aitken. Edited by Kara Demos.

The leaves are falling, the temperatures are cooling, and that can only mean one thing: It’s time to talk bulbs. We’re sick of talking about the same old yellow daffodils and pink hybrid tulips, though, so Steve and Danielle decided to wade into the world of rarer—or at least lesser-known—fall-planted bulbs. You will hear us talk about a tulip or two on this episode, but likely not ones you’re familiar with. Instead we will focus on species tulips that are more likely to come back year after year—which is only one of their awesome attributes. You will also hear about a garlic that is grown only for its beautiful bloom, and a few other bulb options that seem to be ignored by voles! This episode proves that weirder sometimes is better.

Expert testimony: Erin Presley is a horticulturist at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin.



Wild orange tulip (Tulip orphanidea, Zones 4–8)

Pink lily leek (Allium oreophilum, Zones 4–9)

‘Ivory Bells’ fritillaria (Fritillaria persica ‘Ivory Bells’, Zones 6–8)

Spring starflower (Ipheion uniflorum, Zones 5–9)



Sicilian honey garlic (Allium siculum subsp. dioscoridis,  Zones 6–10)

‘Lady Jane’ tulip (Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’, Zones 4–8)

‘Blue Danube’ quamash (Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Danube’, Zones 3–8)

Drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon, Zones 4–8)



‘Rapture’ daffodil  (Narcissus ‘Rapture’ , Zones 3–8)

‘Antoinette’ tulip (Tulipa ‘Antoinette’, Zones 3–8)

Blue of the heavens allium (Allium azureum, Zones 4–7)

Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale, Zones 4–8)

Wild orange tulip arches over
Wild orange tulip
Pink lily leek, hot pink small petals clustered together
Pink lily leek
‘Ivory Bells’ fritillaria - delicate bell like flowers
‘Ivory Bells’ fritillaria
Spring starflower - white star-like flowers
Spring starflower
Sicilian honey garlic plant, overturned cluster of yellow and red petaled flowers
Sicilian honey garlic
‘Lady Jane’ tulip, white and pink petals form in a cup atop single stems
‘Lady Jane’ tulip
‘Blue Danube’ quamash
‘Blue Danube’ quamash
Drumstick allium, ball-like pink flowers on spikes
Drumstick allium


Photo of Erin Presley, this week's garden expert
Erin Presley


Erin Presley is a horticulturist at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin.



'Antoinette' tulip - bright yellow base and pink tipped petals
‘Antoinette’ tulip. Photo: Erin Presley
'Rapture' daffodil, small yello flowered daffodil
‘Rapture’ daffodil. Photo: Erin Presley
Blue of the heavens allium has ball like cluster of blue flowers
Blue of the heavens allium. Photo: Erin Presley
Autumn crocus, fuscia petals, grows slow to the ground
Autumn crocus
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