Bulb Program

California is home to hundreds of native geophytes, many of which are rare and endangered. The California Native Bulb Program at TPF was resurrected in 2004 to grow native geophytes (bulbs) and to develop a deeper and broader understanding of these unique wild flowers. Staff and volunteers working in the program develop, test and share horticultural practices to help expand the use and appreciation of these plants among horticulturists, botanists, gardeners, landscape designers and the general public.

TPF’s Genny Arnold discusses California native bulbs with North State Public Radio host Jennifer Jewell.

Brodiaea californica 'Fred Smith'

Brodiaea californica ‘Fred Smith’

The Fred Smith Bulb House was dedicated in 2004 in honor of a volunteer who created the Foundation’s original bulb program. This growing yard was specially designed and constructed to protect and propagate the Foundation’s bulb collection, which currently contains over 150 taxa – one of the largest collections of California native geophytes in the world.

• Who Was Fred Smith?
Fred Smith was an avid bulb horticulturist who, in the 1990’s, worked to grow California bulbs for the Payne nursery. Smith was particularly fond of the Mariposa lilies, though he preferred to call them tulips. Lacking adequate resources, the program was unsustainable and then languished when Smith moved on to other projects. Following his death in 2003, the Foundation’s Fred Smith Bulb House, was dedicated in his honor.

• Bulbs for Sale
Bulbs and bulb seed can be purchased seasonally. Dry bulbs are offered in fall and bulb seed year round in the bookstore and our online store. Potted bulbs are available in in winter and spring in the Theodore Payne Nursery.