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Spring Bulb Protection

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February 13, 2019

It’s time to plant and protect those prized spring bulbs from squirrels today on southern Gardening.

We all should try to grow landscape and garden plants that are attractive and provide food and shelter for our furry friends whenever possible. But sometimes critters can wear out their welcome, usually be eating our most loved, and more likely most expensive plantings. Squirrels are generally the main culprits. Usually the first to go are freshly planted bulbs which rank high on the squirrel’s culinary tasting menu. Here are some tips to try and outwit Rocky. Always clean up the bulb planting area when you are finished. Anything left behind, including the papery tunics that may have fallen off the bulb during planting, can create a scent that the squirrels can follow. Plant bulbs that have a disagreeable taste. Try these for early spring blooming: Siberian squill, snow drops, or leucojum. These contain alkaloids that squirrels will avoid. But sometimes the only bulb snatching deterrent is a physical barrier. Chicken wire can be used to make your bulbs squirrel proof. Fashion the chicken wire into a box top shape that will fit over the bulb planting area. Leave in place through the winter months and in the spring the bulbs will start to grow through the wire openings. Remove the chicken wire when you see the bulbs starting push through and save for next year.

Or you can try to distract the squirrel’s attention from the planted bulbs by putting up a peanut or corn feeding station. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

Department: Coastal Research & Extension Center

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