How to Keep Squirrels From Digging Up Bulbs: Spring 2021 Update

Sunrise Tulips

To keep squirrels from digging up bulbs and rabbits eating my amaryllis, crocus and tulips, I discovered this easy trick.

How to Keep Squirrels From Digging Up Bulbs: Spring 2021 Update

Welcome back, friends! As you know, last fall I experimented with a new idea to keep the squirrels and bunnies from eating my bulbs. I placed pansies on top of each bulb I planted, in order to mask the smell. The next week I was devastated as I found holes all over my yard, I assumed that the squirrels had dug up all of my bulbs. Fortunately, I was wrong!

As the first shoots of green started breaking through the soil this spring, I was pleasantly surprised to find dozens of crocus, amaryllis, and tulips growing all over the area I planted. Rabbits will eat tulips, amaryllis, and crocus, so I had to find a rabbit barrier once I overcame the squirrel problem.

Purple Crocus

Takeaways and Lessons

First of all, let me say that while I see this as a huge success, there was still a lot that could have gone better. First of all, rabbits ate all the pansies I planted over the bulbs. While that did protect the bulbs, well, I lost the pansies. I do not consider this a failure. My neighbor had dozens of pansies all through the winter. I went over to her house and asked how in the world she kept the rabbits out. She recommended a product called “Rabbit Scram” that I will create a link and search ad for below. She said she put it out once in the fall and her pansies not only survived the rabbits, but they also survived the crazy Texas winter storm of 2021!

I tested two rabbit repellant products to see how to protect my new spring flowers. I used a very effective spray called Nature’s Mace. I give it a 10 on efficacy, as it worked like a charm, but I give it a 0 on pleasantness because it’s the most awful smelling stuff.

If you have a strong stomach, let me tell you, this stuff works wonders. I have a beautiful foxglove that the bunnies have been munching at for a year and I’m finally getting new growth on it after using this product. The smell is awful, yet effective.

Pros: Works really well

Cons: Smells terrible and has to be reapplied every few days.

How to Keep Squirrels from Digging Up Bulbs

The real star of the show is my neighbor’s recommendation: Rabbit Scram. This stuff is worth its weight in gold if you value having any kind of garden. You sprinkle it 18-24 inches around what you want to protect and it works. Rabbit scram lasts longer the more it rains, too. I live next to a nature preserve with probably billions of rabbits so if this works for me and my neighbor, I’d be shocked if it didn’t work for you.

Original Blog Post

Photo by Craige McGonigle on

Anyone that has ever planted fall bulbs in anticipation of spring tulips has likely had some bulbs literally squirrelled away for the winter. The little guys can smell the bulbs a mile away. This year, on a whim, I purchased small pansy plants to plant on top of some of the bulbs. I planted 86 bulbs of Crocus, Amaryllis and Tulips. I planted each of these bulbs in areas of the yard that command the appropriate amount of sun for each type of flower. For Crocus, that’s full shade. Amaryllis needs part-shade and the variety of tulips I prefer, sunrise tulips, require full sun.

Pansies also do well in full sun, so I dug a hole about five inches deep with a bulb digging tool, placed the tulip bulb in the hole, filled it half way with soil, planted the pansy plant on top, and watered until the dirt was saturated, as all bulbs require when planting. The crocus and amaryllis bulbs were dug to the same depth, planted, soaked with water, and covered with mulch.

Sure enough, the next morning, the garden where I planted the bulbs with no pansies on top was riddled with holes dug by squirrels. To say that I was frustrated is an understatement. My pansy plants were also reduced to greenery. You guessed it, bunnies ate the flowers! That’s ok, though – the fact that the green parts of the pansy plants were there means that at least my tulip bulbs are undisturbed. Next year, I know to plant some type of 2-4″ annual on top of each bulb I place. I only use perennial bulbs with the hopes that someday, I’ll have a beautiful yard full of flowers that I do not have to plant each year.

Check back in the Spring, where I’ll update with the final results of my experiment and see how many flowers actually bloom. I’m holding out some home that maybe the squirrels didn’t get every single bulb that wasn’t covered by a pansy plant.

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