The Q&A Archives: Deterring digging rodents

Question: My wonderful boyfriend came home at lunch and planted me a Mother's Day garden of assorted flowers, seeds and bulbs. Unfortunately, within the next few days a squirrel or chipmunk or cute little bunny dug up most of the bulbs and ate them. I have heard there is something you can spray the bulbs with prior to planting that prevents this. What is it, where can I get it, and is that the best way to deal with it? (My guy recommends a b-b gun - I assured him you would have a better answer. Thanks for your prompt response - a cute little hungry bunny may be at stake here.

Answer: It's sad to hear all your boyfriend's hard work was all but destroyed. Rather than resorting to a BB gun, though, you can use a deterrent spray or sprinkle blood meal in the hole when you plant your bulbs and then sprinkle more over the soil surface after the bulbs are planted.

You may want to plant bulbs that are rarely eaten or troubled by animals, or at least interspace these with your other bulbs. They include hyacinths, narcissus, crocuses, eranthis, crown imperials, snowdrops, bluebells, snowflakes, grape hyacinths, and scillas. It also helps to clean up loose bulb tunics and other planting debris once you?ve finished planting. Their scent, as well as freshly dug soil, is like a guide map to the location of your new bulbs. If animals dig your newly planted bulbs, try covering them with plastic bird netting, wire mesh, window screening, or burlap bags until the smell of freshly dug earth has faded. If animals burrow their way to your bulbs, try lining the planting hole with wire mesh or plant your bulbs in buried pots covered with chicken wire. If all else fails, you may need to consider spraying emerging flower bulbs with a bitter, nontoxic repellent available at Home Depot garden centers. Look for "Deer Away" or "Rabbit Stopper".

Best wishes with your new garden.

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