Connecticut Garden Journal: Critters and Bulbs | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Critters and Bulbs

Oct 20, 2016

Spring bulb planting is in full swing this month. While weather conditions can influence the survival of your tulips, daffodils, crocus, and other spring bulbs, critters can have a dramatic effect, too. 

Squirrels, chipmunks and mice are more than happy to munch on your bulbs under ground so that come spring all you might see in your garden are the weeds you missed last fall.

To keep these critter at bay sprinkle some crushed seashells, broken up egg shells and sharp gravel into the hole when planting. These rodents hate the feel of these sharp objects on their paws. For gardeners obsessed with their bulb's survival you can even plant bulbs in wire cages buried in the ground. But an easier solution than all of this is to grow bulbs that the critters don't like.

The first is the daffodil. This amaryllis family bulb contains a toxin that will kill any squirrel or rodent dumb enough to keep eating it. Others in this family include snow drops and spring snowflakes. Lily family spring flowering bulbs, such as fritillaria and grape hyacinths or muscari, aren't toxic to squirrels, but have a distasteful flavor. Of course, any of the alliums or flowering onion bulbs, while good for your rodent's heart health, will tend to be avoided.

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

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about unusual Halloween pumpkins. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.