October is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs in your garden across much of the country. If you've ever planted tulips, hyacinths, and crocus, only to be frustrated when few flowers emerge the next spring, you're not alone. A common cause for poor bulb performance is that the bulbs were nibbled by mice and voles over the winter.
Now research from Cornell University describes which spring-flowering bulbs that mice and voles like the best, and which they will avoid. Most gardeners know mice and voles love tulips and avoid daffodils, but what about other bulbs? Researchers fed 30 different bulb varieties to mice and voles in the lab. Some received fresh bulbs while others received the bulbs mixed with applesauce to entice eating. They found mice and voles loved to eat all tulips. They fed on hyacinth, crocus, allium, scilla, and Dutch iris when hungry. However, they avoided daffodil , camassia, chinodoxa, muscari, fritillaria, and snowdrops. So, if vole damage is a concern, either protect susceptible bulbs with cages or place crushed oyster shells in the hole at planting time. Or just stick with the mice-and vole-resistant bulbs.
For more information on this research, go to: Cornell University.
Article published on October 7, 2009.