What Bulbs Do Voles Dislike?

“What bulbs do voles not like to eat?” Question from Nancy of Columbia, Pennsylvania

Answer: There are a variety of bulbs that they will not eat. All daffodils and narcissus are unpalatable to rodents. Their bulbs contain toxins that repel any that might predate on them. Voles also dislike beautiful and fragrant hyacinths and grape hyacinths. Delicate, white, early-blooming snowdrops are another bulb that they will not eat. Finally, fritillaries (Fritillaria spp.) of all sizes and types also repel voles.

Plant all of these bulbs in the fall. For best growth, amend your planting soil with Black Gold Garden Compost Blend and bonemeal. Both products will ensure that your bulbs will bloom and grow well. It is also essential to plant different bulbs at the correct recommended depths. If you plant bulbs too deeply or shallowly, they will not perform as well. Small bulbs may not even pop up at all if planted too deeply. Just follow the package instructions.

I hope that this helps!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

How Do I Stop Squirrels from Eating My Flower Bulbs?

“I have a problem with squirrels digging up my flower bulbs. What can I do?” Question from Susan of Lexington, Kentucky

Answer: Squirrels, voles, mice, and other related creatures dig up tulip certain crocus bulbs but dislike most others. Tulip bulbs are especially tasty treats that hungry critters will dig up in fall and winter when food is scarce or the bulbs look best on the garden menu. Here are several potential solutions that will stop them in their tracks.

Protect Your Tulip Bulbs

Gardeners use various methods to protect their tulips.

  1. Apply vole or squirrel repellents after planting bulbs. These will detur digging and consumption.  Shake-Away Coyote Urine is one option.
  2. Another method is to plant tulips 1 to 2 inches deeper–8 inches rather than 6. This can only be done with large-bulbed tulips, like Triumphs and Giant Darwins. Most animals are less likely to dig as deep or detect the bulbs below.
  3. Place chicken wire over tulip bulb plantings, which can be easily lifted after the blooms fade in spring. The wire will protect the bulbs before blooming. It is always nice to cover wire sheeting with mulch so it cannot be seen.
  4. Plant tulips that naturalize, like chrysantha tulips, which spread and resist predation in numbers.

Plant Other Bulbs

Daffodils, chionodoxa, fritillaria, scilla, muscari, and other bulbs are not as palatable to rodents, so plant lots of these instead. Many of these bulbs naturally spread to make your spring garden more and more beautiful each year. Amending bulb plantings with Black Gold Garden Compost Blend and a fertilizer formulated for bulbs will help them perform their best.

I hope that these tips help.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

I Have Moles in My Garden. How Do I Stop Them?

When a gardener says, “I have moles in my garden.” I always let them know that moles do not harm garden plants.

“I have moles in my garden. How do I stop moles from eating the roots of my flowers. I have tried everything, and they still keep coming in my yard!” Question from Lisa of Agawam, Massachusetts

Answer: Moles in the garden can be confusing. Here’s why. They are carnivores that just feed on grubs, worms, and other underground invertebrates. In fact, they consume grubs that feed on the roots of perennials, so they’re actually beneficial. The problem is that other creatures, like voles and fieldmice, will find the holes and use them to access tasty roots below.

Some mole repellants do work, and there are quite a few on the market. Castor oil (Nature’s Mace Mole Repellant) seems to be the favorite. Bonide Mole and Vole Repellent Granules also get high marks. Some garden flowers are also supposed to repel moles. These include daffodils, strong-smelling alliums, easy-to-grow marigolds, and fritillarias, which have bulbs that smell like skunk.

Sonic mole repellers are another option, but from what I have read, they are only somewhat reliable but worth a try if you have a severe mole problem.

Mole tunnels and mounds are annoying to step on, but they aerate the lawn and are easily dug out, raked, and/or pushed down. Try several of these mole-repelling approaches, and see if they put a damper on your problem.

Stay safe and happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist