wretched squirrels destroying tulips*


I learned to plant my tulips deep to deter the squirrels
They come up vigorously each spring. As soon as the flower is completely open the damned squirrels break the tops off, leave them lying around, they don’t even eat them. (no picture necessary) How can I deal with this?




Hello and thank you for reaching out to the Toronto Master Gardeners.

I feel your pain!  I really do.  After tenderly planting your bulbs and waiting with bated breath for the colourful show you have anticipated you instead get snapped off tulip buds!  Very frustrating indeed.  I too have witnessed these rodents chewing off tulip and peony buds, and it is not a pretty sight.

All of our literature tells us to sprinkle blood meal, but city wise squirrels don’t seem to be put off by the smell, so here are some other tips – but, as squirrels are all different (just like any animal) you may have to keep trying different methods until you find one that works for your critters, most of these revolve around scent which is highly developed in rodents

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

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.

Other bulbs:  Consider planting a variety of other bulbs with your tulips, Squirrels don’t like daffodils, allium and fritillaries.  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.

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 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!