Squirrels, tulips and other vulnerable bulbs

butterflywiNovember 2, 2005

I have an abundance of wildlife -- squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and at least one raccoon family -- we live on a heavily wooded lot with many, many old oak trees, which drop a gazillion acorns every year. So squirrely digging goes on all year. Nonetheless, I'm going to try tulips this year. I've been told that if I dip the bulbs in Ro-Pel or plant a daffodil with each bulb I can outwit the squirrels. I'm not really confident about either recommendation, but I bought some relatively inexpensive tulips and will experiment with both ideas. I'm also covering all my beds with heavy metal hardware mesh. This very long message is to ask if any of you have any other suggestions. Naysayers, too. Thanks a bunch.

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jackied164(z6 MA)

The hardwire mesh should work. I used some last year over crocus. This isnt pratical over my whole garden so what I do is put big rocks over most of the places where I plant and then take them away after the ground freezes. It seems to work and I have no shortage of critters about my place. Of course it helps I also have no shortage of rocks either.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 6:00PM
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jonjon(6A)

I love your idea of putting big rocks over the planted site, why havent' I thought of this before! Simple yet mechanically effective....now i just have to find lotsa big rocks, it's a new backyard and I've already put in a few hundred crocuses, but I"ll use the rock idea for the tulips, which I'm still waiting for 50% off before I buy them.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 11:35AM
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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

If you don't have a lot of rocks, you can use old wood boards or plywood and take them up when the ground freezes. The next challenge is in the Spring when the flowers are just ready to pop and the squirrels bite off the flower stem. Grrr. I've had some success with red pepper spray wax.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 5:32PM
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dianepmt(z5MI)

Don't the rocks pack down the soil too much around the bulbs? In spite of spending a bucket on planting my very first tulips, allium & fritillaria, I have a weakness for any furry face, and so have made friends with a couple neighborhood squirrels. One in particular comes around like clockwork for snack time. I thought maybe if I fed her enough tasty treats, she might not feel the need to dig through my flower beds searching for more.... flawed human logic... ! We have little holes all over the place, they're very busy right now. It actually doesn't seem like they're eating the bulbs, just digging to plant their acorns & stuff. Most of the holes are pretty shallow, so they might get to the little bulbs toward the top, but hopefully the larger ones that are deeper will be spared. Tried sprinkling dried blood around the beds at a grower's suggestion, but didn't seem to help.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 9:31AM
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jannoel_gw(z5b IL)

I've read that planting garlic or some other bulb in the allium family deters critters because they don't like the smell. You could ring your tulips with garlic. It is planted this time of year and harvested next year late summer. However, I too like the rock idea. Right now I have an uncarved pumpkin over some daffodils, but it is destined for the compost once it gets a little soft.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 5:59PM
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mamoo_z5(z5IN)

I have seen squirrel watch me plant my bulbs. I live on the same type of land you do plus a few farm fields. After planting tulips or other bulbs I just cover them for about a week with a bucket & the squirrel seem to forget where I planted & they never bother the bulbs. Sounds silly I agree but it has worked for 10 yrs now. Maybe my squirrel are more stupid than most!
Wire would work great but I don't have the energy to put it down. I just take up the buckets after a week & the squirrels leave the bulbs alone.
If I don't use the buckets they will did up most of the bulbs. Tulips make it good in my yard!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 1:41PM
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butterflywi

Today I bought a product called RepelleX Bulb Saver Systemic Tablets, which you plant with the bulb and the manufacturer says will form a protective barrier to keep all the furry beasts from digging them up. Then the tablets disintegrate in the spring and provide fertilizer (5-10-5) and protection for the emerging flowers from deer and rabbits. Contains dried blood (10%),quarternary ammonium salts, lactose, ammonium phosphate and muriate of potash so it seems safe enough. Have any of you used this product or similar ones? Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 5:40PM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

I have the same sense that the squirrels watch me as I plant and that I need to just distract or fool them long enough to protect my bulbs. I am fortunate to have an unlimited supply of rocks (although I may trade them all in for the ability to dig a garden bed without having to haul about 2 tons out) but sometimes I just brush leaves over where I plant and it seems to work. In my experience the critters go for the areas that look recently dug. I have to confess that whenever given the opportunity I throw some of my rocks at the critters to encourage them to move along. If I had a dog this would be more simple.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2005 at 10:19PM
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earline_pa zone 6 Pa.

Jack
Don't think that a dog would make a simple solution. LOL
We have a 5 month old German Shep that has been planting craters in my yard.
I have the wire shelving (6 ft.long)from my plant stands laying all over my yard trying to deter her from digging LOL
and when it rains......don't even want to THINK about that :(
On the good side (I guess) she exposed the chipmunks get-away holes at the bird feeders,
so now they are probably outside of my fenced in yard, where I planted my bulbs :(((

    Bookmark   November 11, 2005 at 8:22AM
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patwood(6a NJ)

Squirrels definitely like to dig in freshly dug areas; either they're smart enough to know we've put something there or they can't remember where they planted their nuts so they just go looking in the most likely places (recently dug earth).

Anyway, your battle is only half done. Critters like to eat the leaves and buds of many bulbs in the spring. In particular, they seem to like the buds just before they open up.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2005 at 5:09PM
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nac_mac_feegle(Hamilton, On)

The first time I ever planted tulips they came up beautifully. The squirrels never bothered them all winter. I watched them come up in the spring and was sooo excited (I had planted a Halloween Garden for my husband - all black and orange flowers) when they began to emerge. The day they bloomed I came home from work to a garden of stems!!! Squirrels or deer or some such buggers had eaten the head off every single tulip.

I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry, but my husband laughed so hard he had to sit down. I left the stems in honour of Morticia Addams and her roses, and it *was* a garden of stems!! Every time a tulip bloomed, by evening it was 'off with it's head'. It turned into our Addams Family garden instead.

Too bad I couldn't find any daffodils in orange or black!! Ha!

For your amusement,

Feegle

    Bookmark   November 12, 2005 at 12:19AM
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butterflywi

I love the garden of stems! Which may be my fate, as well. I've tried every suggestion I think anyone ever had so we'll see. Thus far, thanks to the boards and chicken wire, the squirrels have not paid attention. Since this is an experiment, I'll be happy if the tulips come up at all! Thanks, all of you. I've really enjoyed your responses.

Barbara

    Bookmark   November 12, 2005 at 11:14PM
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nac_mac_feegle(Hamilton, On)

It was so funny, like a little stick forest: like someone was building a garden and hadn't quite finished.

Feegle

    Bookmark   November 13, 2005 at 10:34PM
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patwood(6a NJ)

A good friend of mine had the same problem with tulips. Kept them under clay pots at night; stems came up; buds started to get color. Then on what was probably the day before they would open up, the deer came through during the day and mowed them down. I'm guessing they were saving the flower buds until they were at their tastiest -- salad bar for deer.

In my area, I stick to daffodils and allium. My crocus get eaten, even though they're close to the house; my one small patch of tulips survived last spring by being barricaded into a small corner with lawn furniture. It's a never-ending struggle here with the wildlife.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 10:49AM
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