Since we are in the middle of the fall bulb planting season I thought I would return to this topic. My previous post was about problems with squirrels and that is covered here as well, but that is only the beginning. There is also advice on tulips and daffodils and why they don’t produce flowers for a second season, and the question of when it is too late to plant your bulbs. All this and more is contained in an article which I came across on the Three Dogs in a Garden blog.
Q: Squirrels are digging up and eating my tulips bulbs! What can I do?
There tend to be lots of squirrels looking for an easy meal in my backyard every fall. Here is what I have learned to do to prevent them from adding my tulips to the dinner menu:
1. Do not place your bulbs on the surface of the ground while you dig the hole to plant them. Squirrels have a good sense of smell. You might as well put up a sign, “Tulips planted here. Please dig.” Instead place your tulips in a basket or plastic bucket while you work.
2. Don’t make it easy for squirrels to dig up your bulbs.?Plant tulips deeply. Forget the little hand trowel and go get a shovel. You are more likely to dig to the proper depth with a shovel. On average tulips should be planted to a depth of 6-8 inches. (As an added bonus tulips planted deeply are more likely to bloom reliably year to year.)
3. After you dig down and place your bulbs, backfill the hole and firm?down?the soil really well with your foot.?Most squirrels will go for food buried just under the surface of the soil.?If the little beggars do have the nerve to try to dig for your tulips, at least you have made it difficult for them by planting deeply and compacting the soil. Most squirrels will move on to much easier quarry.
4. Disguise the area where you planted your tulips by covering the surface with mulch or leaves as a final way to hide your buried treasure.
5. I have never resorted to repellents, but if you have squirrels that are determined pests, you may want to try an organic repellent (available at your local nursery). I have also read that red pepper flakes sprinkled on the surface of the soil are a great organic deterrent.
6. If all else fails, plant bulbs that squirrels don’t like to eat. Examples include: daffodils, alliums, scilla and hyacinths. (Note: I have had squirrels dig up my daffodils and discard them uneaten on the surface of the soil, so I have also learned the hard way to plant my daffodils deeply.)
Go to the next page for advice on tulips and daffodils and why they may not flower in following seasons.