Connecticut Garden Journal: Bulbs to Keep Your Garden From Turning Into a Buffet | Connecticut Public Radio
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Connecticut Garden Journal: Bulbs to Keep Your Garden From Turning Into a Buffet

Oct 15, 2015

Eastern chipmunk.
Credit Distant Hill Gardens flickr.com/photos/59898141@N06/7272455164 / Creative Commons

Fall is not only for pumpkins, corn stalks, and colorful leaves. It's also bulb planting time. 

There's nothing better than tulips, crocus, and daffodils popping up in the garden come spring. It's always a welcome surprise. Unfortunately, we aren't the only ones loving those bulbs. Chipmunks, voles and mice are just some of the creatures that will happily munch on your bulbs underground.

So how to protect those precious bulbs?

First, sprinkle some crushed seashells, eggshells, and some sharp gravel into the hole when planting. They don't like the sharp objects when digging.

For tenacious critters, try building or buying a wire cage buried in the ground, planted with bulbs. It should have holes large enough for the flowers to grow through, but small enough to keep the critters out.

The easiest solution, however, is to grow bulbs critters don’t like.

Fritillaria meleagris.
Credit Wikimedia

The simplest is the daffodil. This amaryllis family bulb contains a toxin that will kill any chipmunk or rodent dumb enough to keep eating it.

Snowdrops (Galanthus).
Credit Vicky Brock flickr.com/photos/vickyb/3316524249 / Creative Commons

Others in this family include snowdrops and spring snowflakes. Lily family spring flowering bulbs, such as fritillaria and grape hyacinths, aren’t toxic to rodents, but have a distasteful flavor. 

And any of the alliums or flowering onion bulbs, while good for your chipmunk's heart health, will tend to be avoided.

If you're hell-bent on growing tulips and crocus that chippies love, consider mixing bulb types in the same hole. Planting some bulbs critters won't like -- close to your prized bulbs -- adds more color in spring and may discourage the critters from eating all the bulbs in the hole.

Next week, I’ll be talking about garlic. Until then, I’ll be seeing you in the garden.