Every year, we get this question from gardeners, “How do I keep squirrels from newly planted spring bulbs?”
Squirrel Proof Your Spring-Flowering Bulbs
Nothing worse than spending time and hard work planting spring-flowering bulbs, only to have the squirrels dig them back up and enjoy them for a fall feast! And this can be a really serious problem in heavily squirrel populated areas. So, what can you do?
Well, here is a collection of “squirrel proofing your bulb plantings” that you may want to try!
- Don’t plant tulips, plain and simple. Squirrels like them as much as they enjoy nuts.
- Squirrels can smell freshly planted bulbs, and are always curious as to what you have buried there! So clean up after planting. So, disguise your planting areas to look normal, and cover the scent of the bulbs.
- Plant the bulbs an inch or so deeper than recommended.
- Treat the bulbs with critter repellents that list squirrels.
- Treat the soil (backfill) as well as the top of the soil after planting. Retreat as needed. Note: As we always say, these critter repellents can do a fairly nice job as a deterrent. But, when it comes to starving or surviving, critters will normally choose to survive.
- Sprinkle a layer of crushed oyster shells or small crushed gravel a few inches above the bulbs when planting. Squirrels may not like digging through this sharp stuff!
- Sprinkle ground red pepper (hot) in the hole with the bulbs, as well as over the top of the planted area.
- Dusting sulfur may work as well.
- Lay chicken wire over the area where the bulbs have been planted, and pin it down to the top of the soil. Bulbs will grow through this, but once the ground has frozen, you can also remove the covering. (Squirrels may not mess with the bulbs once the ground has frozen.)
- Use window screens or something similar – just be sure to remove this barrier before the bulbs begin to grow in the spring.
- Create a chicken wire basket to plant the bulbs in – basket and all are planted in the ground. Bulbs will sprout and grow through the wire. This is really only good for the pocket planting of bulbs.
- Disguise the newly planted area by watering in well, then applying a topdressing of mulch or compost.
- Lay thorny branches over the newly planted areas.
- Set up a feeding area for the squirrels away from the areas where the new bulbs have been planted. Feed with peanuts or corn, which does a good job distracting them from the bulbs.
- Plant daffodils. Squirrels (and yes, deer and rabbits) pretty much avoid daffodils. Scilla, Allium, Snowdrops, Colchicum, Hyacinths, Grape hyacinths, Fritillaria, Winter Aconite, Glory of the Snow, Snowflake, and Star of Bethlehem are a few other bulbs that the squirrels don’t seem to fancy as a part of their diet.
- And if you don’t feel like going through all of this for spring-flowering bulbs, don’t forget about planting bulbs in containers! Plant your favorite bulbs in pots, and overwinter them in the unheated garage or shed. Then, next spring bring them out and enjoy your spring flowers both indoors and out with your container grown spring gardens. Unless, of course, deer and rabbits come along and eat the bulb’s flowers. (No, they won’t eat the daffodils.)
Cincinnati Gardening Made Simple! Have a spring bulb question? Ask our plant experts!