How do I keep squirrels/chipmunks from eating my tulip blooms

(Question)

I planted some bulbs in the fall and was shocked to see a couple of them actually bloom. Within 2 days of blooming, a chipmunk ate the flowers. What can I do to stop that from happening again?

 

(Answer)

 

Hello and thank you for reaching out to the Toronto Master Gardeners.  It is a shame that your chipmunk has a taste for tulips and he does not at all seem camera shy!

We often field questions regarding rodents eating tulip bulbs or blooms and I am sorry to report that there is not one simple solution, there is no commercially available repellent that has been proved to be effective for chipmunks.  Our literature suggests that squirrel repellents may also work for chipmunks, that is not a great help as not all animals behave in the same way so the best answer we can offer is to try a variety of methods until you find one that works for the tulip gourmands in your garden.

Taste: Commercial products containing thiram pr Bitrex,  applied to plants alter the taste, and after a few tastes your chipmunk will be put off any further chewing.  These products are not to be eaten by humans, and you will have to re apply after every rainfall or watering.

Smell:  Methyl nonyl ketone crystals & Mothballs placed around your plants are repellents of many animals including cats, dogs and rabbits, so may also work for chipmunks.

Predator scent:  There are products that mimic the smell of coyote urine.  The theory is that this will scare your squirrels away – warning though – the smell is strong and awful – this will also scare away any human visitors from garden for at least 48 hours.

Hair:  Collect human, dog or cat hair from neighbors and salons – put them in nylon “baggies” and place them around your plants.

Other bulbs:  Consider planting a variety of other bulbs with your tulips, Rodents don’t like daffodils, allium and fritillarias.  Not only will they leave these bulbs alone, but they will be put off by the offering in your garden and move on to more sweetly smelling pastures.  In fact, some people plant garlic in the fall with their tulip bulbs to deter squirrels from digging them up.  This year I am planting chives with all my tomatoes to ward off my tomato eating chipmunk.

Plastic toys:  I heard on a CBC radio show several years ago that putting a plastic owl, and plastic snakes around the garden will scare off rodents and they will see these as predators.  I tried the owl with little success – it worked only for a couple of days until the squirrels and chipmunks realized that it was a fake!  And the same I am sure is true for the plastic snakes.  BUT if you bring these items out only for the short time it takes for your tulips to bloom – well it might just work.

Good luck – and keep up the good fight!

Below is a link from Penn State with more information about chipmunk control:

http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/wildlife/wildlife-nuisance-and-damage/small-mammals/wildlife-damage-control-13-chipmunks