Squirrels are notorious for digging up and eating freshly planted bulbs each autumn. These tips will help prevent this.
1. Crocus and tulip bulbs are especially tempting to squirrels, but not all bulbs are equally vulnerable. Experiment with different varieties or ask your neighbours which kinds tend to escape destruction.
2. Freshly dug ground is easy for the squirrels to dig into, so consider naturalising bulbs under turves and pressing these back down and securing with metal pins until the grass knit back together.
3. Plant bulbs in wire cages to deny squirrels access. These could be made from two hanging baskets fixed together.
4. If planting in a large patch then cover the soil with a sheet of mesh the bulbs can grow through, or use metal sheets, paving slabs etc as a temporary cover.
5. Bulbs are generally less attractive to squirrels once they are in active growth, so consider starting them off in pots in a protected location and planting them out once growing strongly.
6. Providing nuts for the squirrels as a decoy rarely works – even if the squirrels do take them in preference to your bulbs, they’re likely to destroy your planting scheme when digging holes to store the nuts.
7. Autumn is when squirrels store food for winter so bulbs planted in other seasons are much less likely to be removed. Either concentrate on bulbs which are planted in other seasons, experiment with planting later in the year, or buy bulbs in flower and plant out in spring.
8. Once established, bulbs are unlikely to be taken so it’s worth persevering in order to have bulb flowers every year. Try leaving tulip and gladioli bulbs in the ground over-winter, particularly if you live in a mild area as squirrels probably pose a greater risk than cold weather.
9. Bulbs planted in pots are easier to protect. Either cover with mesh, or put this just below the soil surface and allow bulbs to go through, or place the pots somewhere safe from squirrels.
10. As a temporary measure, sprinkle the soil with chilli, garlic granules or the squirrel repellent sold to mix into bird food. Alternatively roll the bulbs in one of these before they’re planted.
Published in: Gardening