Has this ever happened to you - "I would like to order some bulbs. I planted 50 of your bulbs last year and they all came up. But, before they had a chance to bloom something came along and ate the flowers. Do you have any suggestions for me? I'd like to plant more but don't want to just feed the critters."

I hate it when this happens and it has even happened to me. When we moved into our new house we planted a bunch of tulips and many of the early ones were eaten, most likely by deer. We noticed that the later blooming varieties remained untouched most likely because there was more of an abundance of food options by that time. Another time, I planted a bunch of crocus when we lived in Providence and the squirrels dug them all up! Sometimes the critter pressure is so fierce you can't plant certain things like tulips and have to stick to Daffodils and other bulbs that are critter resistant. Below are some tips and tricks, and a helpful video with some good solutions.

Protect Against:

1. Deer & Rabbits- Sprays like liquid fence or a DIY spray work well for both Deer and Rabbits but you have to reapply when it rains. Another option, recommended and used successfully by The Garden Lady of Cape Cod is The Wireless Deer fence - https://wirelessdeerfence.com/. A humane way to train deer to stay out of your garden. If all else fails you can plant in pots or window boxes or choose varieties that deer won't eat such as Daffodils.

2. Moles & Voles -Use mesh with half-inch holes to make a “bulb cage.” Place the bulbs inside the cage and plant it in the ground. Roots and stems will fit through the mesh, but rodents won't be able to squeeze through or chew access holes. They have options at Home depot and Amazon

3. Squirrels & Chipmunks -Sometimes it's just a matter of planting your bulbs deeper. Tulips can be planted between 6-8 ". With crocus and other smaller bulbs this is not an option. Use the same mesh on top of the bulbs once they have been planted. Cover with dirt and a little mulch and you can’t even see it. Squirrels & Chipmunks won’t be able to dig through the mesh to get to your bulbs.

These are just a few suggestions that we have found to work. What have you found that keeps the critters out of your garden?

February 10, 2023


Kim said:

I buy a large jar of chopped garlic and sprinkle it on the leaves. It helps to keep the rabbits away. You have to reapply after it rains!

Eileen Richard said:

I am now only planting DAFFODILS /Narcissus—-good varieties (but nothing compared to tulips). I just have too many deer. When I had dogs, I did not have as many deer. But those that did come ATE. The dogs were not particular to where they stepped either. Sprinkling garlic, baby powder, Irish Spring, & moth balls helps for a little while if those are the fragrances you want. BIG FENCING is all that really works. OR….

Maureen Crimmins said:

I sprinkled generously from a container of dried
fox urine. No creatures bothered my tulips after that application!

Following rainstorms, I needed to re-apply this pebble-like substance.

Lynne F. said:

I plant my tulips with a layer of crushed oyster shells on top to keep the critters out and it fertilizer the bulbs. You can buy it by the pound at your pet store.

Anne said:

Thanks for the planting tips and the recipe! My family had a similar recipe that we called Swedish pancakes but only put cinnamon and sugar on them.

Bettina said:

We definitely struggle with critters, as we have chipmunks and squirrels and rabbits and turkeys in our yard! Mostly we have moved to daffodils and crocus, which they don’t seem to like as much as the tulips, but the perennials do come through and I find the covering with chicken wire until they start poking out pretty effective. After that I spray with diluted coyote urine which I ordered from Amazon. Stinky but effective! But you also have to reapply after rain. But that succeeded where the pepperspray and other methods failed.

Patty said:

I used my cheese grater and sprinkled Irish Spring soap shavings around, it worked to keep the critters away!

Joanne H said:

Someone suggested to plant garlic in with the tulip bulb because the critters don’t like garlic. Have you ever tried this?

Shirley said:

I read somewhere to use baby powder. Put the baby powder in the bag with the tulips and shake it up to coat all tulip bulbs. I planted them a month ago and have not seen any sign of any animals digging up my holes. Will let you know in the spring if it was successful. I planted 175 bulbs this way.

Maureen Mills said:

I sprinkle dried blood from Agway around tulips. They won’t go near them!!

Janet Phillips said:

very interesting on the info about planting to keep the critters out…thankyou,,

Joyce Jenks said:

Mix a tablespoon of cayenne pepper with a quart of water. Shake and let sit overnight.
Pour through cheesecloth into a spray bottle so it won’t clog. Spray the soil area even before bulbs emerge and then at first sign of growth and after a rainfall or irrigation.
Effective against rabbits and squirrels.

Nancy S said:

The first year I put up a chicken wire fence around my tulip garden but it looked awful so this past spring I went to Job Lot and bought a several containers of cayenne pepper. I was vigilant about sprinkling it on and around the plant every few days but especially after rain and it seemed to work. I lost several blooms before I tried the Cayenne pepper but I didn’t lose any after using it. I believe my culprit is rabbits 🐰

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