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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Protecting Bulbs


It's October and time to think about planting spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths. There's nothing like the look and scent of these beauties blooming on cool, gray April days. And now is the time to act.

Purchase bulbs now, but wait until mid October to plant. Planting too early during a warm fall will encourage them to grow before winter, potentially harming them. Speaking of harm, many gardeners are frustrated with their tulips and crocus not growing in spring. One of the main culprits are rodents. Mice, voles and chipmunks love to dig and eat some of your prized bulbs.

But you can outsmart these critters. Rodents don't like the taste or smell of daffodils, fritillaria, allium, snow drops and grape hyacinths. However, they love tulips and crocus. So, plant fewer tulips and crocus or mix these bulbs with ones rodents don't like to confuse them.

Plant tulips and crocus close to the house, walkway, or between the sidewalk and road where mice and voles are less active and away from bird feeders. When planting, add crushed gravel or crushed oyster shells and seashells around the bulbs and even create a layer of crushed rocks 6 inches deep around the planting hole. They don't like tunneling through these sharp materials.

You can also deter them by placing hot peppers flakes and castor oil granules in the planting hole. You can also spray liquid castor oil around the planting area. They don't like the taste or smell.

With a little planning, you can protect your treasured spring flowering bulbs from attack this fall.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

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