Fall is bulb planting time, and by thinking ahead you can protect your bulbs from critters.
I donít bother planting tulips any more. Now I only buy kinds that are deer-proof. With my small garden I canít afford to lose much.
There are a number of deer-resistant bulbs, including the flowering alliums or onions. I notice some of these tend to bloom rather late in the season. Itís almost summer here by the time the flowers open.
Dutch Gardens makes it easy to choose deer-resistant bulbs. They have a collection that includes daffodils, puschkinia, and grape hyacinth. All of these are hardy in zones 3-9.
Aside from choosing bulbs that deer and other animals donít like what else can we do?
Before you plant the bulbs treat them with animal repellents. There are various brands of these available. They include BulbGuard, made by Deer Off. This is an all natural formula that protects the bulbs from voles, squirrels, and other burrowing animals. You soak the bulbs in the mixture for five minutes before you plant them. It works by both odor and taste. Another brand is called Repellex-the Bulb Saver System. However this one says it provides 5-10-5 fertilizer at the same time as it repells the animals.
Once the bulbs begin to grow in the late winter or spring youíll need to spray them to protect them from animals.
Some gardeners use natural repellents. I do this by planting fragrant herbs that deer donít like around the flower bed. Lavender, chives, garlic chives, and the like are all suitable for this purpose. They donít seem to find the bulbs as often when I do this.
If squirrels or burrowing animals are destroying your bulbs, you can also try planting them in bulb cages. These cages keep the animals from being able to get to the bulbs. White Flower Farm sells a large cage that is the right size for five Asiatic lilies or two dozen tulips. The cage is really easy to use. Just dig a hole to the right depth for the kind of bulb you have in mind. It also needs to be the right dimensions for the cage to fit the space. Once the hole is ready, place the cage in its proper position. Insert the bulbs. Close the top of the cage, and fill the area in with the soil. Youíll never see the cage, but it will protect the bulbs from pesky animals.
If deer or squirrels are a problem, donít give up growing bulbs. Find a way to control their damage.