For gardeners, fall is planting time for tulips, daffodils, alliums and other spring-blooming bulbs. While we are busy planting bulbs, chipmunks and squirrels are busy gathering nuts, berries, and seeds for the winter ahead. If you’re a rodent working hard to fill up your food cache, newly planted flower bulbs are a perfect to-go meal. They’re tasty, nutritious and easy to transport.
It's heartbreaking to have your flower bulbs carted off and become dinner for some pesky critter. Here are 5 ways to keep your bulbs safe from chipmunks and squirrels, so you can enjoy a rainbow of colorful flowers next spring.
Don’t tempt them. Not all flower bulbs are appealing to chipmunks and squirrels. So one strategy is to plant bulbs they tend to avoid, including daffodils, alliums, scilla(Siberian squill), hyacinths, muscari (grape hyacinths), fritillaria, camassia,chionodoxa, galanthus (snowdrops) and leucojum (summer snowflake).
Planting your bulbs with smelly an organic fertilizer such as bone meal or fish emulsion may attract skunks, dogs, and cats as well as chipmunks and squirrels. Bulbs already contain everything they need to flower, so skip the fertilizer and avoid attracting attention to your newly planted bulbs.
Hide the evidence. Clean up the planting area when you’re done, so you don’t leave clues that there might be something tasty underground. Chipmunks and squirrels are curious, and freshly dug soil is a clue that something has been recently buried. Spreading a thin layer of bark mulch or shredded leaves over newly planted areas will help to hide the disturbance.
Another way to cover your tracks is to plant your bulbs into a low groundcover such as vinca, pachysandra, ajuga or lamium. Squirrels and chipmunks are unlikely to notice the newly planted bulbs, and they may also be less inclined to dig through foliage and roots.