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Talkback: Squirrels vs bulbs and corms

We live near a park, and when the squirrels tire of being fed peanuts by visitors they come to wreck our garden. I used to have several different varieties of autumn crocus, snowdrops etc, but most of these have been eaten. They seem to know when you have been planting, I think they must smell the newly dug soil, because they can leave areas of the garden untouched for ages, then as soon as you plant anything, there they are, busy excavating. They even ruined my hanging baskets less than 24 hours after I had planted them. I found several hidden peanuts in their shells buried in the compost when I was replanting. I put 'hairnets' round them of green garden mesh, it protected my winter pansies, but they did not look very attractive!


  • I also had a problem with squirrels.While I was away in September they had raided my newly planted pots.When I got back I put grated soap round all pots and the pots in the garden.I also found the reappearance of my dog helped to keep them away.I now have a lovely show of spring flowers.What a joy.
  • Squirrels are the bane of my gardening existence! Everything that I try to grow in pots, whether seedlings or bulbs are always eaten... until this year. My hair is thinning (I'm only 31) and I've been shaving my head for the last 10 years as a way to cover up the balding process... but that's another story. Anyway, now, I shave my head with an electric razor and spread my hair clippings in my pots, over the compost, and the squirrels don't touch anything! So, when you get your hair cut, save it!
  • I have found that soap chippings scattered on the area after planting can deter squirrels from digging up bulbs etc. It doesn't look particularly pretty but it will eventually wash away and gives the bulbs a chance to survive.
  • Does anyone know of any other deterents to keep squirrels off your bulbs and seedlings? I have a dog that keeps them out for a certain amount but they still come back.I would appreciate any comments. Thanks.
  • Whilst standing in a queue at the local Post Office just before Christmas 2007, I overheard a conversation between a lady and gentleman about the problems of having squirrels invading newly planted pots of bulbs. I joined in on the conversation as a colleague at work, who shares my love of gardening, was experiencing the same problem with her bulbs and the local squirrel population. The lady in the queue suggested using good old fashioned moth balls to deter the squirrels. Just plant the moth balls about 1 and a half to 2 inches below the soil level and the squirrels will apparently leave the pots alone. I passed on this information to my work colleague. She purchased some moth balls, tried it out and it worked! I don't know how long the moth balls last in the soil, (do they dissolve when it rains?) but its worth a try. Perhaps future contributors who give this method a go could let us know?

    On another note, I have a large wildlife pond in my garden. Last week I counted 22 frogs paired off and waiting at the bottom of my pond for the opportune moment to spawn. On 2nd March (Mothers' Day)the first two clumps of spawn were laid and kicked off the process. The frogs are now spawning like mad! I have had frogs and hedgehogs in my large garden for a number of years and these helpful creatures keep the population of slugs and snails at bay. Woe betide any who visit my home and tries to chew my plants!

  • Dear Pippa, we are also plagued with squirrels in Surrey, I have lost so many bulbs, hope wherever they replanted them the gardener appreciates them, I did cover bulbs with mesh so I suspect that the mice have enjoyed them to.
  • Well I am so glad I am not imaging that all my spring bulbs rotted... I usually have a lovely display in numerous pots and this year from at least 50 odd crocuses I got one yes ONE.....I thought due to the wet summer last year they must have been affected... I have a park at the back of my garden and last year the population of squirrels quadrupled as the 2 pairs that live there gave birth to twins, so now instead of 4 we have 8 and the youngsters are so cheeky... I put my bird table right in front of the lounge window so I could stop it blowing over in the strong winds we have had... 2 of the youngsters come right up to the window and looked in... even when I move about and go and stand at the window making me only about a foot away from them they just look at me then carry on eating the nuts that are really for the birds!!!!!!!
  • Squirrels don't like pepper and a friend of mine always puts a good dusting of very hot pepper or chilly powder on top of the pots, especially tulips. I've lost rare tulips (always the biggest bulbs eaten) and cover the pots with mesh until they emerge. This last autumn I tried the pepper dusting and it works. I also strung little green hot chillies on my bird feeders to prevent the squirrels tearing into these, having tried chicken wire first. The squirrel chewed into the plastic seed holder around the chicken wire but the wire made a good matrix for holding the chillies. I saw a nibble mark on one and after that never any bother with the seed holders. I've also been told to put hot chilli powder on ground plantings but haven't tried this one yet.
  • Something keeps breaking into our fruit cage. Whatever it is chews through the plastic mesh. We assume that it's squirrels, though it could be rats. Last year they were after the strawberries, but there are already 3 holes in the mesh, and no fruit as yet. Any ideas if it's squirrels, rats or what, and what I can do about it? I can't afford / don't want to cover the whole lot with chicken wire as it's a big cage.
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