Bulb protection techniques

Protecting bulbs from squirrels, cats and kids

Bamboo cloches

In gardening, as in life, abundance is everything, so the idea that some of your bulbs may come under attack, whether from squirrels, mice or foxes is rather a good thing, because you will deliberately plant more than you may think you need.

This may be the best course of action for the wider garden, where a lost tulip or two won’t necessarily cause much gnashing of teeth. But what of your precious pots, lovingly filled with exquisite beauties, sitting there, prone to vandalism?

Begin with a cloche. I like bamboo ones, which, pushed tightly over pots, keep undesirables out and (I think) look beautiful. The largest one (linked above) can be jammed even over my 60cm diameter pots. It’s important to remember that these will wear over time. They become darker of course, with exposure to wet and sun, and eventually the bamboo will become brittle. This is fine by me, but its something to bear in mind before buying. Crocus also stocks similar ones here. They are less useful in the ground, as they don’t really jam into the earth properly. If you want something for your veg patch, then these are both beautiful and brilliant. I had some on loan for a while to try out and they were amazing.

Secondly, Tabasco, sprinkled liberally around the edges of the pot actually does work. It’s a faff because you have to keep re-applying, and take obvious precautions by keeping the containers well away from children.

Some gardeners actually place all their pots in a wire cage (a rabbit run would do) until the plants have emerged.

I’ve had anecdotal evidence that baby powder, sprinkled liberally over the top of the compost is an effective deterrent, although again, I think you’d have to be sure to reapply after every rain shower.

Also, planting your bulbs together with a couple of garlic cloves is apparently a good trick (although surely the critters would have to have dug the things up in order to be freaked out by the garlic….perhaps they can smell the stuff from above and know not to dig there…worth a go?

The most work-intensive but least visually bothersome tactic is to place bulbs inside home made wire mesh baskets. A good compromise is to use a flat piece of mesh, with holes at least 1 inch wide, and bury it just above your bulbs, curling the edges around and down so that the mesh is rammed tightly inside the pot.

If you can’t be bothered with any of this, simply planting slightly deeper than you would normally, and being obsessively careful to clean up after yourself, removing any and all evidence of bulb planting works well.

Let me know in the comments if you have any clever tricks? I’m all ears! Also love to hear your suggestions for protecting seed beds and newly-planted areas from animals - I’ll be writing something on that soon!

xx Laetitia

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