Planting bulbs in Fall

Fall is the time to plant bulbs in preparation for next spring (both flowers like those described here, and some vegetables like shallots and garlic), If you haven’t done so yet. It is also the time that squirrels and other bulb loving animals are looking for food. What I hear often from folks is that squirrels ate most of the bulbs they planted! Today, I would like to share good tips I learned on how to avoid getting your bulbs eaten by animals.


The first method is using chicken coop wire. Chicken coop wire is available at most hardware stores. It is a thin wire net that has 1/2” spaces in between. The idea is that you cut the chicken coop wire into the size of the area you plant the tulips and then put the coop wire on top of the area, then cover with mulch or soil. A 1/2” is enough space for tulips to get through, but not  enough for squirrels.   



If you have other animal problems, like moles, you can put the bulbs in a chicken coop cage. You cut the coop into about a 10”-12” piece, then make a cage. Put the bulbs in it before planting. Make sure to put soil in between the coop and the bulb, so that animals can’t nibble on it through the cage.   


The last and most natural way is to use nature to prevent animals from eating the bulbs. Daffodils and Hyacinth are a few of the plants that squirrels won’t eat. You can plant tulip bulbs deep in the soil (they like to be planted deep), cover with soil, then plant Daffodils or Hyacinths on top of the tulip bulbs. Squirrels don’t like the smell of the bulbs and look elsewhere. I haven’t tried this technique my self yet, but I hear that people say it works. Even it doesn’t work perfectly, you should be able to protect most of your bulbs. I like this method the best because it is the most natural way.


Tulips like well drained soil with lots of sun. The bulbs will rot in moist soil. Plant at least 8” deep or deeper if you can. If you are planting in a pot, put gravel on the bottom to make sure it drains well. Other bulbs can usually be planted in a depth of 3 times their height. The reason bulbs have to be planted in the Fall is that they need to feel the cold temperature in the winter so that  they know when spring comes.      


For Tulips: When the flower is ending, cut the stem from the bottom to avoid nutrition getting used by the dying flower. This way you can make the bulb healthy for the next year.


For Daffodils: When the flower is over, cut the stem from the bottom, then tie the remaining leaves into knots. They can keep photo synthesizing, but the nutrition goes to the bulbs.


If you are interested in planting garlic, here is a link.

You don't have to worry about animals with garlic. Not so many of them are interested :)


Happy planting!


- Toyoko Schieferdecker - volunteer blogger, member-owner