Should I even try planting tulips in deer/rodent infested yard?

ikea_gwNovember 6, 2008

I've got deer and some squirrels in my wooded yard. The deer have eaten the normal deer candy food but also have chewed on my toad lily and other supposedly deer resistant plants. We have 3 or 4 resident squirrels but we also have a lot of oak trees around. Should I even bother with tulips?

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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I have lots of deer and squirrels but they have never bothered my tulips. The deer don't appear until the roses are well into their new growth and by then the tulips are over. My squirrels are the gray tree type which are not interested in eating bulbs. They do plant lots of nuts which I am continually pulling out. Al

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 9:21AM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

There are squirrels everywhere, but it seems not all of them cause trouble. I had zillions of them, and except for the occasional beheaded tulip in the springtime, they left my bulbs alone. Spraying the tulips with bitter stuff took care of the beheading.

I'd give it a try before you give up.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 10:54AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Maybe AlÂs squirrels have enough nuts to eat and thatÂs why they donÂt bother his tulips. The first year I planted them I soaked them in red pepper dip and they did not dig them up. They bloomed well but I had to keep going out the spray the blooms. The second year they dug up and ate or nipped almost all of the bulbs, despite the red pepper dip (not just tulips, plenty of other bulbs, puschkinia, every last crocus out of hundreds). ItÂs like they suddenly discovered I had tulips/bulbs and were now watching me. The third year I planted little alliums in every hole with the tulips, plus sprayed the bulbs in the hole with Tabasco spray. They dug them up, tossed the alliums aside, and ate the tulips.

The fourth year I ordered tulips on sale late. I kept stalling for a spot of better weather to plant them, and it never came. It was mid December and freezing cold before I planted them. There didnÂt seem to be any squirrels around, maybe because it was so cold, they were all tunneled in somewhere. I did a lousy job of planting because I just wanted to get inside. I camouflaged the holes with dead leaves. None of those were dug up.

Last year I was planting crocus, anemones, and species tulips in mid November. I saw the squirrels watching me and knew I was in trouble. I planted some one day and the next morning saw the digging and knew they were gone. The next ones I planted in clusters (even though that was not the arrangement I wanted for them) and put a big 1 foot landscaping stone over each cluster. The next morning I could see from the digging around each stone how hard they had tried, also how far they would tunnel under each before giving up. I planted all the rest of the bulbs that way. But the next spring only the tulips came up. I think the crocus and anemones rotted under the stones, I should have removed them once it got really cold like January; or after the squirrels had time to forget.

I have not bought any tulips this year, though I did buy one package of crocus. IÂm going to try something that has been suggested here. I bought a roll of green hardware cloth, mesh maybe one half inch. I will cover each cluster with this, edges bent down to lock it into the soil. IÂm going to see if this works, and how much trouble it is, before I try more of the things they find tastiest. I bought things I know they donÂt eat, lots of daffodils and alliums. I still have to go out from the first tulip buds and spray with repellent. I don't have deer but the rabbits eat the flowers too.

So I would try either one: plant so late that they arenÂt around, or cage/cover your bulbs with wire. DonÂt spend a lot until you know which will work for the level of determination found in the squirrels in your yard.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 11:39AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I'm sorry linnea56, but I got a laugh out of your troubles. I just pictured all those evil little fat squirrels up in their trees waiting for you to turn your back and head back in the house. Then they all scurry down to see what you were up to!

We don't have too many squirrels around here, and if it makes you feel any better, I had to dispose of the tail and leftovers of a squirrel last week. Apparently they are as tasty to hawks as the bulbs are to them.... and here I was thinking some redneck neighbor of mine was keeping the stewpot full.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 9:23PM
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yours is the question why many people choose to use public transit.....the automobile, having to be insured, and otherwise bear great expense, is sometimes viewed as not worth it.

Your deer will not starve if they don't have your bulbs to feed on. You, on the other hand, next spring, wont have the color that such bulbs can provide.
So you weigh the diffeences.....should you, or shouldn't you.

There are many methods that people explain how to protect bulbs from vermin. Planting them deep...tulips 8 to 10 inches is not out of the question--it only causes delays in promotion in spring.
Chicken wire, large spacing, placed just above the bulb so that the foliage grows upwards between the wire might deter the diggers.
Planting daffodils amongst the tulips can make them turn away. Daffs have a toxin that deer and others will not eat.

Some say bloodmeal and its odour, will turn squirrels away.
I don't know about, it makes my two dogs roll in it.
Nepeta....otherwise known as MINT, migth change their minds if they chew on it first.
If you don't have pets, you might try catnip...which is mint.

A plastic cat or owl might make them think otherwise but you have to keep changing the position. The animals are not stupid and can see where an animal that doesn't move is a phony.
I've heard you can buy coyote urine or something similar to ward off deer. Cant speak for it, never tried it but then I don't have many deer that venture down to my high hedges.

Do you .....or don't you.

Ah.....spring is sprung and gosh, just look at all that color my bulbs are producing.........
even with the odd head having been nipped off.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 12:05PM
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Wildlife browsing tastes vary from region to region, even yard to yard - what you have success with might not work for me and vice versa. I have grey squirrels, but they don't dig bulbs. For the years I tried tulips, deer got to them every time but once when I employed chickenwire cages. And the only reason I like chickenwire to cage anything I might prize is because you can't see it from any distance and as things grow, the wire gets overtaken by foliage.

Rabbits do the most damage in my gardens. I always seem to have one with a healthy appetite and I've learned to protect what I know it'll go for. Last winter was hard on wildlife; the deer ate arborvitae as high as they could reach on hind legs and rabbits burrowed under the snow for the spirea and burning bush, etc. This season I've burlapped, chickenwired and netted what I'm guessing any wild creature might go for.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 12:42PM
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So I think I am willing to do chickenwire for the bulbs to deal with the rodents. How do I deal with it once it is coming up in the spring? Am I going to have to spray it with Bobbex or other spray every few days? Anyone has successfully gotten blooms from tulips when deer and rodents are around?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 8:54PM
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I gave up on growing tulips years ago because of the deer. There are so many other types of bulbs to grow that the deer won't touch. Coupled with the fact that tulips typically only bloom one year, I don't think tulips are worth it. Of course, you can always spray one of the deer sprays if you feel that it's worth it to you.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 10:07AM
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I have grown both species and hybrid tulips at my old house before. The hybrids come back every year but some of them do have decreasing amount of flowers as they age. But the species ones not only come back but also spread nicely. I really would love to grow some yellow species tulips if the deer spray would actually work.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 1:45PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

The ONLY way I got tulips to bloom after 25 years going without was to spray the life out of them every other day or more once that foliage broke through the ground.

Rabbits/deer had eaten them every year at my parent's house and I was determined to give back to my Dad Tulips last year.

The cost of repellant sprays to keep deer from eating yews/azalea/roses and deer/rabbits from eating tulips/hyacinths FAR exceeds the cost of thousands of bulbs but the beauty of seeing them bloom is priceless to me.

I also have lots of bulbs, tulips included, in pots on back deck so we can see blooms close up all Spring and chase away those Winter blues. No spray needed with chicken wire blocking stairs to deck...LOL.

The only bulbs I put in cages are Tulip bulbs since those are vulnerable to underground and digging critters. One time expense worth it to me since already spending small fortune on repellant sprays.

Since foliage of bulbs I plant not tender I may just try home made brew of eggs, hot sauce and garlic...left to "ripen" in bucket, strained and applied with sprayer.
Garlic oil is only "active" ingredient in most commercial sprays so might as well give it a try. Cheaper might be just as good.

Good luck to all in critter wars...LOL.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 4:58PM
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They are not squirrels! They are rats with furry tails! I've even had them eat daffadils.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 7:44AM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

LOL...I just planted lots of Daffodils I was holding in the laundry basket since Spring and the first thing I see is dlpasti's Daffs being eaten by squirrels!

I don't get to worry much about the squirrels because the deer, rabbits and groundhogs get to growing things long before my furry little friends have a chance. I'm truly impressed with the digging persistence of the squirrels in some of your neighborhoods...all around the chicken wire trying to get to whatever's been planted is pretty extreme! Sorry they ruin or stymie your efforts for pretty blooms.

The deer are walking all over beds I just amended and put in some perennials & bulbs. They walk right through a burlap fence and I can't make the front of the house look like a fortress with metal stakes and chicken wire or other fencing. I would, if I could, but it's my father's house and he's of the opinion I shouldn't be fighting nature by planting anything critters will eat.

I need color...I need flowers...I need to see butterflies and hummingbirds...I need to have my head examined! LOL

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 5:16PM
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