How We Keep Rodents from Eating Our Bulbs

 

How We Keep Rodents From Eating Our Bulbs at White Flower Farm transcript

Hello, I'm Jonathan, Assistant to the Head Gardener at White Flower Farm. Once we've planted our Crocus, it's a bit disheartening, to say the least, to see a squirrel stuffing his cheeks with them. Here are a few ways we deter squirrels, chipmunks and voles from nibbling on our bulbs at White Flower Farm.

Our first option is to hide the appetizing bulbs from the critters by planting unappetizing bulbs around the them. Surround your Tulips or Crocus with bulbs in the Amaryllis family, such as Narcissus, Galanthus, and Leucojum. These bulbs contain lycorine, a poisonous, bitter substance that no mammal will eat.

Another option to deter a variety of burrowing critters, whether chipmunk, squirrel or vole is to surround the bulbs with crushed shells, which will cut the pads of the rodent's paws as they dig. Sprinkle the crushed shells in the bottom of the hole at planting time as well as use them as a top dressing.

Another good option is to use a bulb cage. This ingenious device gets buried underground with the bulbs inside, where the critters can't reach. Dig a hole deep enough to submerge the bulb cage, set the cage inside, and add soil and the bulbs at the proper planting depth. Make sure to tamp down the soil around the cage because you don't want to leave room for water pockets, which will cause your bulb to stay wet and rot.

For new plantings where we are wary we will attract voles, we work backward: voles are lazy and use tunnels already in place from moles. Moles feed on earthworms and grubs, so use beneficial nematodes or milky spore to keep the grubs away, which will help keep the moles away and that will keep the voles away. We also use mole and vole deterrents, which can be very effective.

Keep in mind there are bulbs that critters find less appetizing than others. In addition to the bulbs mentioned earlier, try planting Camassia, Chionodoxa, Colchicum, Muscari, or Fritillaria.

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