Did you plant spring flower bulbs last fall dreaming of a dazzling display of colorful tulips and daffodils come spring? And were you sorely disappointed when the flowers didn’t materialize because squirrels and other wildlife had eaten all the bulbs? Sure you were, and the only way to prevent it from happening again is to outsmart the thieving critters and to protect spring flower bulbs from wildlife with these tips.
In order for squirrels, gophers, mice, voles and the like to munch on your flower bulbs, they must first dig them up. Give their paws pause by covering the top of your spring flower bed with something that is difficult, if not impossible, for them to paw their way through.
After planting, cover the top soil with a length of chicken wire then add a layer of mulch to hide the wire. If roses or other thorny shrubs are pruned during the fall, lay those thorn-covered branches on top of the soil or mulch with a layer of sharp gravel to discourage wildlife from digging up those delicious bulbs. When using gravel as mulch, pull back some of the gravel over top of each planted bulb so help it emerge through the soil in the spring.
Commercial repellent scattered on the top soil after planting bulbs will leave a bad taste in the critter’s mouth so they will go elsewhere for a meal. Scatter granulated repellent on top of soil immediately after planting, the soil will absorb is and make bulbs taste bad. Reapply repellent in winter before the soil freezes.
Bulb cages made from wire hardware cloth can be used to keep wildlife at bay. Place daffodil, tulip, crocus, hyacinth and other spring flower bulbs right inside the cage, dig a planting hole large enough to accommodate the cage and plant it. The flower stem will make their way up through the wire and no one, except the wildlife, will know the cage is there.
If you want to fill in a large outdoor space with spring flowers, excavate the soil in the area and line it with chicken wire. Be sure to place chicken wire on the sides of the planting hole too. Cover bottom with some of the removed soil, plant the bulbs and cover with soil then place chicken wire over the top. Hide chicken wire with a layer of mulch.
Critter Resistant Species
No flower or bulb is completely critter-proof, but some species are less palatable and are more resistant than others. Snowdrops, snowflakes and daffodils are usually left untouched by wildlife and will often enjoy decades-long life spans.