How to - Pests & Diseases

How to deter freeloading squirrels

Keep critters from eating your bulbs

Nothing frustrates gardeners more than spending a Sunday afternoon planting tulip bulbs, only to discover the next day that squirrels have dug them up. Worse yet is watching deer, rabbits and squirrels foraging for the tasty flower buds and blooms of tulips and crocuses that successfully emerged after a long winter.

There are lots of minimally effective concoctions to repel these critters, such as human hair, soap, garlic oil, blood meal, cayenne pepper—even coyote or wolf urine—but perhaps the best way is to just plant bulbs that don’t appeal to unwanted guests. For example, narcissi and daffodils are unappetizing because of their foul taste, while the pungent scent of allium or fritillary bulbs is also a turnoff.

Other tips that might help discourage furry freeloaders include cleaning up bulb debris at planting time so the scent is not a draw, or putting an extra layer of strong-smelling mulch (such as cedar, compost or pine bark) over the planted area. A novel approach is to feed squirrels peanuts or corn in feeders during bulb-planting time in the hope that this easily accessible food source dissuades them from digging through your garden. Also consider planting bulbs deeper than normal (25 to 50 per cent deeper), then firming the soil well. Securing a barrier, such as chicken wire, over the soil can be effective, too.

Critter-resitant bulbs to try:

  • Muscari Armeniacum
  • Fritillaria Persica
  • Eranthis hyemalis
  • Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’
  • Allium ‘Globemaster’ 
  • Galanthus Nivalis
  • Fritillaria Meleagris
  • Nectaroscordum siculum 
  • Iris Danfordiae
  • Fritillaria imperialis
  • Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’
  • Leucojum aestivum
  • Scilla siberica
  • Crocus tommasinianus (note: squirrels love other types of crocuses). 

Watch a video of bulb-planting tips.

Read more in How to and Pests & Diseases

  • Page 1: Critter-resistant bulbs

Follow Style At Home Online



Latest Contests

more contests