Enjoying Bulbs: It’s Either You or Them



CindyMurphyBlog.jpgWinter aconites, snowdrops, glory-of-the-snow, narcissi, crocus, and the first early tulips; these spring-flowering bulbs are thought of as colorful harbingers of spring. Color in the garden is a welcome sight after a long, cold winter, and now is the time to plant for it. It’s not too late – spring bulbs can be planted from September to December – for as long as the ground is not frozen.

Narcissus bulbs

But who enjoys the spring-flowering bulbs more? Too often the spring fever remedy they provide is destroyed before we even see it! Deer graze and rabbits nibble. Mice don’t eat the flowers, preferring the bulbs themselves, and pesky squirrels dig them out of the ground. There are a few tricks you can try, though, to make the bulbs less attractive to the animals, and therefore more attractive in your garden.

1.) It’s the squirrels in my yard that most often enjoy the bulbs more than I do. They dig them up almost as soon as I plant them – they dig anywhere fresh earth is overturned. I found laying pieces of bulb sacks, onion sacks, or bird netting over the newly planted bulbs works well. Secure the mesh to the ground with landscape staples, and cover with mulch. Remove the fabric in spring when the bulbs begin to sprout. By that time the freshly dug soil has settled, and the squirrels have no interest in digging there. I’ve tried burlap instead of mesh without the same success; they dig under the burlap. Squirrels don’t seem to like pawing the mesh because their claws get stuck in it.

2.) The same principle can be applied to deterring deer from eating your tulips (or other plants in your garden beds). Grazing deer are a problem for many homeowners, and tulips are one of their favorite foods. You can keep them out of the tulip bed by placing deer netting on the ground around the bed. The deer will stay out of the area, afraid of catching their hooves in the netting. Chicken wire works just as well.

Cindy Murphy
11/16/2009 6:28:15 AM

HA, Michelle! Yes, garlic...perhaps the most amazing bulb of all: said to ward off the common cold, squirrels, mice, rabbits, and vampires. And sleezy guys in bars....if you eat enough of it, that is.

Michelle House
11/15/2009 12:31:30 PM

Garlic will keep vampires away as well. lol, The squirrels around here, are so brazen they will come up onto the back deck, and dig in my roses. You would think the cat would deter them, but nope. Now I am go this week, buy some bulbs, and hope the squirrels, don't get to them. lol Michelle

Cindy Murphy
11/14/2009 5:45:45 PM

Glad you could use the bird feeder tip, Vickie. The squirrels at my bird feeder get me so mad! Grrrrr. They not only devour the seed, they've destroyed I-can't-count-how-many feeders trying to get to the food. Another trick is to use safflower seed instead of sunflower - most of the song birds like safflower, but the squirrels don't. Good luck - because I agree, it gets expensive feeding the birds when the squirrels dine there too! Dave - I bet your your flower garden in spring will be glorious with all those daffodils (my favorite), crocus, and tulips! And go with the daylilies, for sure! (They're another favorite of mine - there seem to be so many.) Daylilies are a good choice in a bulb bed - the daylily leaves will fill in quickly, covering the bulb foliage as it starts to die back. I'm looking forward in hearing what you've got in store for those two new beds.

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