Like Tupperware for tulips
November 8, 2010 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Can I brick over my tulip bulbs?

The other day, in preparation for next spring, I planted about 50 tulip bulbs in our front garden. It will look lovely when they all bloom. Or at least it would look lovely if various neighborhood critters didn't dig up the damn bulbs. So far about 5 have been dug up, and I have no faith that that's where it will end. I'm not sure if it's the dog from next door or if it's random squirrels/cats/raccoons that live all over the neighborhood, but I am sure I don't want all my bulbs torn out before we even get to winter, much less to spring.

So I was thinking of putting a row of bricks or garden paving stones or something in the garden (and by "putting" I mean laying loosely, not installing permanently) over the bulbs, as the line of bulbs is right next to the concrete porch, and removing the bricks in about mid-February.

Is this a bad idea? If so, do you have a better one? I don't want to control the animals or fence off my garden if at all possible.
posted by pdb to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's pretty common to lay chicken wire or other mesh over bulbs to keep critters out while letting the elements in.
posted by headnsouth at 12:19 PM on November 8, 2010

Lay chicken wire over the beds and weight it down with the bricks. Even squirrels won't eat them through the 1-2" gaps.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2010

posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:22 PM on November 8, 2010

I don't know if you could leave the bricks there till Spring - as I recall the bulbs get all sorts of early indicators in the way of moisture and light that help them develop, so you might need to remove the bricks even earlier than mid-February.

One trick my mom uses that isn't foolproof, but helps, is to buy a huge container of hot pepper flakes (at Sam's Club or one of those bulk places) and apply liberally to the soil atop/around the plants every few weeks. It does seem to deter some of the chipmunks and squirrels, at least.
posted by ldthomps at 12:22 PM on November 8, 2010

Tulip bulbs are delicious to squirrels.

I've always had a lot of success keeping my bulbs from being eaten by planting daffodil bulbs amongst them--apparently daffodil bulbs are very un-delicious and repulse any critters looking for a handout. So far this year, no digging in my bulb bed--I dispersed maybe a dozen daffodils amongst probably twice as many tulips, plus several hyacinths and a whole bunch of crocus. They must be seriously gross to the local squirrel population, who will cheerfully eat a whole garbage can just to get to some old potato peels.

Another thing you can do is put a layer of mesh or chicken wire over the bulbs, under a layer of mulch so that in spring you can just lift it up when the bulbs start popping through. I've never tried your brick idea but I doubt it would hurt the bulbs any.
posted by padraigin at 12:22 PM on November 8, 2010

Moles will eat them, too, and chicken wire on the surface won't deter; chicken wire underground won't either because the openings are not small enough to stop a mole. If you only just planted the tulips, I'd recommend digging them back up, and then replanting them inside a cage of half-inch hardware cloth, as described here. See also this.
posted by beagle at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2010

So, no joke, I have been told about and used this technique myself. Cover the bulbs with hair. Like, right on top of the bulb in the hole before you put dirt back on it.

Apparently critters that dig up tulip bulbs don't like hair. So if they get that far they get grossed out and stop.

Where to get hair? Just ask for a bag at your local barber shop. The last time we planted bulbs my neighbour had a bag of his own hair (from his head, from home haircuts) just sitting around. very strange. But it worked.
posted by GuyZero at 3:58 PM on November 8, 2010

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