It's easy to find companies that sell hybrid tulips and daffodils, but finding species bulbs is a lot trickier. There are a number of small nurseries and seed companies that specialize in species bulbs, and also some specialist plant societies that offer seed exchanges. Like most small organizations, they are generally labors of love that make little or no profit. They can't afford to advertise themselves broadly or send free catalogs to millions of people.
So to increase their visibility, and help keep our favorite suppliers in business, the members of the Pacific Bulb Society discussion list compiled this list of their favorite species bulb sources. These sources were all nominated by members of the list. We excluded catalogs that resell bulbs and seeds grown by big mass-market firms (they are very capable of promoting themselves), companies that have recently generated a significant number of unresolved complaints among our members, and companies that are known to dig wild bulbs for sale (the only exception is rescue missions where bulbs are about to be destroyed by development).
If you're searching for a particular plant, you can use the custom search box below to look for it in our suppliers list. It searches the websites of all the suppliers we've listed. Note that this will return all references to that plant, even if they're just notes or pictures. But it should help to narrow down your search.
Type the common or scientific name of a plant (examples: daffodil, oxalis, calochortus splendens)
Although seeds can take several years to turn into blooming-size bulbs, they're cheaper than bulbs, and in many cases they are the only way to obtain a particular species. You can find instructions on how to grow bulbs from seeds here. There are a fair number of companies supplying bulb seeds from the US, South Africa, and Eurasia. But it's extremely difficult to find seeds of bulbs from Mexico and most of Latin America, and even for California it's hard to find sources for seeds of many bulbs. If you're aware of any dependable sources for those, please let us know.
Kiowa, Colorado, USA
Specializes in plants native to the mountain west of the United States (the Great Basin and areas adjacent to it). Their list includes seed of a number of native bulbs, all of them cold-hardy.
B&T World Seeds
A massive list of seeds, many of them sourced from other suppliers.
Email: Brisdee at tyrone-online.co.uk
Brian is a famous Narcissus hybridizer in the UK who also sells seeds of species (and some hybrids). E-mail him for a copy of his list.
Sells seeds of Chilean plants, including a number of bulbs.
Email: kvickery67 at btinternet.com
Kurt collects seeds in Europe and Asia. E-mail him for a copy of his latest lists.
Langenhovenpark, South Africa
Has a large list of South African bulb seeds, and a smaller selection of bulbs.
Nindethana Seed Service
Albany, Western Australia
There aren't many Australian native bulbs, but this very extensive seed list includes most of them.
Has an extensive seed list of European alpine plants, including some bulbs.
Has a very extensive list of species plant seeds, including a large bulb selection. Generally acts as a reseller for seeds collected by others.
Seeds of Peace
Seed list from Oron Peri (oronperi at gmail.com).
Sierra Seed Supply
Greenville, California, USA
Sells seed of California plants, including a moderate selection of bulbs.
Cape Town, South Africa
A massive catalog of South African native seeds, including numerous bulbs. (PBS list member)
Southwest Native Seeds
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Seeds from the desert southwest of the US, including a fair number of bulbs.
Summerfields Indigenous Bulbs and Seed
Gordon Summerfield sells a large variety of South African bulb seeds, many identified by locality (so you can buy particular colors or forms). He also carries a smaller selection of bulbs. You can see photos of some of his bulbs on his Facebook page (linked above), but you must e-mail him to get his catalog.
Theodore Payne Foundation
Sun Valley, California, USA
Sells seeds of California native wildflowers, including a small number of bulbs.
Because there are a lot of bulb suppliers, we have divided them by region. You can order bulbs from outside your home country, but you may need a special permit or other paperwork. Know your local rules, or ask for advice on the PBS discussion list.
Extensive list of Eurasian bulbs.
A big selection of bulbs, many of them species that grow well in Mediterranean climates. (PBS list member)
This site lists the fairly extensive collection of South African bulbs sold by a mail order nursery in the south of England. Unfortunately, ships only within the UK.
Also ships to the US from an office in New York.
Janis Ruksans Bulb Nursery
Website includes the catalogue of the renowned bulb grower.
Lithuanian Rare Bulb Garden
Mostly Eurasian bulbs. Large selection of Iris.
Focuses on low-growing bulbs, with an emphasis on Narcissus and Tulipa. Does not ship outside the EU.
Hybrids of Nerine sarniensis. This is the sales outlet for the Exbury Nerines, a famous collection of Nerines. (PBS list member)
Paul Christian Rare Plants
Has a very extensive list of species bulbs.
Formerly known as Potterton & Martin. Has an extensive list of species bulbs, most of them hardy. Unfortunately, no longer ships bulbs to North America.
Offers bulbs and seeds. Has an small list of hardy terrestrial orchids. Apparently ships only within the EU.
Emphasizes Lachenalia, Massonia, Haemanthus, and Strumaria.
East Sussex, UK
Offers bulbs and seeds (bulbs to the EU only). Mostly summer-growing bulbs, with a focus on Clivia.
Bayou City Heirloom Bulbs
Humble, Texas, USA
Focuses on bulbs suitable for the southern US. (PBS list member)
Bill the Bulb Baron
Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Amaryllis belladonna and Narcissus hybrids, plus a few other bulbs. (PBS list member)
Gilroy, California, USA
A fairly broad selection of bulbs, many tender. Not shipping as of 2011 while they rebuild their stock, but planning to reopen. Contact them for availability.
Gravette, Arkansas, USA
Mostly summer-growing bulbs, including a nice selection of Lycoris. (PBS list member)
Exton, Pennsylvania, USA
A private garden with a very impressive collection of hardy bulbs; periodically sells surplus bulbs. (PBS list member)
Far West Bulb Farm
Grass Valley, California, USA
Focuses on California native bulbs.
North Bend, Oregon, USA
Specializes in species cyclamen. (PBS list member)
Illahe Rare Bulbs
Salem, Oregon, USA
Has a relatively small but eclectic list of mostly US and Eurasian bulbs, including a number of Fritillaria.
Jim Duggan Flower Nursery
Solana Beach, California, USA
South African bulbs.
South Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA
Carries mostly hardy bulbs (USDA zones 5/6). (PBS list member)
Oregon Native Plant Nursery
Offers Western North American bulbs (focus on Erythronium), rock plants and ornamental forbs. Electronic catalog available via email. (PBS list member)
Pacific Rim Native Plant Nursery
Chilliwack, BC, Canada
A mixed list of perennials and bulbs, centered on plants appropriate to the Pacific Northwest climate, but with some eclectic additions. (PBS list member)
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Has an extensive selection of unusual summer-growing bulbs. (PBS list member)
Steven Hammer's Sphaeroid Institute
Vista, CA, USA
Sells succulents and bulbs. Strong in Albuca, Bulbine, and Massonia.
Southern Bulb Company
Golden, Texas, USA
Specializes in bulbs that will grow in the heat and humidity of the southern US. (PBS list member)
Telos Rare Bulbs
Ferndale, California, USA
A very broad selection of species bulbs from California, South Africa, and South America, many of them tender. (PBS list member)
University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden
Berkeley, California, USA
Offers surplus bulbs from the garden's nursery. Although the online availability list is focused on retail sales, if you contact the garden it will ship bulbs to you. (PBS list member)
Napier, South Africa
Supplies both bulbs and seeds of South African bulbs. (PBS list member)
Cape Flora Nursery
Sedgefield, South Africa
Specializes in Clivias
Many of the world's plant societies run seed and bulb exchanges. Follow the link to a directory of some of the most prominent bulb-related societies.
eBay and other auction sites are rapidly emerging as a source for seeds and bulbs. Some growers prefer not to maintain a separate website, and just list bulbs or seeds whenever they are available. However, we encourage buyers to be cautious, especially if buying bulbs. If you don't know the seller, you might get material that was collected in the wild (which could endanger the species) or that is infected with viruses or pests.
One eBay vendor endorsed by several PBS list members is Dylan's Bulbs. To see if they have anything available, click the link. If they are not currently selling anything, the website will report zero matches.
Here are some other websites that list bulb sources.
Great Lakes Bulb Society Sources List
The most comprehensive list of bulb sources we've seen.
The Seed Register
Compiled by alpine gardeners; includes a lot of sources for bulb seeds.