If you want to be the only person on your block with a certain flower or hope to grow a more unique specimen, there are many bulb options available for the home garden or yard. Gardeners hunting for more unusual bulb selections may need to go online to locate them or make a special request through a local greenhouse, as less common varieties are not often carried on store shelves.
Hymenocallis narcissiflora--also found as spider lily or Peruvian daffodil--is sometimes sold under the name Ismene calathina. In summer, the bulb produces striking, fragrant white flowers on stalks up to 2 feet tall. The flowers have the bell of a daffodil, but spidery tendrils extend from behind the bell in this case, instead of the flared petal seen on a daffodil. The plant is a relative of amaryllis and prefers a spot in the sun and damp soil. The bulbs work well in a large flower container or outdoors, but gardeners should be aware that, while they are hardy in the south, they are tender in northern climates.
Lebanon squill, or Puschkinia scilloides, is also known as striped squill and may be sold as P. libanotica. This hardy bulb yields flowers with dark stripes of blue on white or blue petals. Blooming very early in the spring and reaching 6 inches in height, the flowers are of an unusual color and have a spicy aroma. The plant likes sun or partial shade. This selection multiplies well and performs positively in rock gardens or pots, but does best in mass plantings.
Guinea-hen Flower is Fritillaria meleagris, a hardy bulb with a distinct skunky scent. The bulb produces flowers shaped like a bell, with a distinct spotted or checkered pattern. The bells are usually white and purple, but are also available in bronze or white and are described as fragile-looking. The plant does well in light shade, cool and moist conditions, reaching a height of 8 inches to a foot tall. To enjoy these spring flowers, the bulbs should be planted in fall. The University of Illinois Extension Service recommends you plant a bed with sand between each bulb and then tilt the bulbs on their side to prevent water damage.
For a showier Fritillaria, the Crown Imperial has flowers in groups of 10, on stalks 3 feet tall. These have an strong, unappealing odor, but bright coloring of red, orange or yellow.