Do Squirrels Eat Gladiolus Bulbs?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Squirrels are an important part of eco-systems all around the world and while they may have cute little faces, they are considered to be something of a pest to gardeners.

When you’re getting your outdoor space ready for summer, you’ll be excited to plant a variety of new bulbs.

Gladiolus are one of the most popular but are they going to fall victim to those pesky squirrels?

Unfortunately, if you have squirrels in or around your garden, they will go for those gladiolus bulbs. They might not take the bulbs away completely, but even the slightest interference can have a devastating effect on the plant and its growth. 

Short of completely culling the squirrel population which is neither humane or possible, you’ll have to come up with some other, more creative ways of protecting your bulbs. 

Squirrels And Gladiolus Bulbs

Squirrels are known for their foraging behaviors and they love nothing more than searching out and chowing down on some delicious bulbs, especially gladiolus bulbs.

Squirrels on a tree
Squirrels & gladiolus bulbs

This happens during the summer and fall more often than other times of the year as the squirrels are actively looking for food to store for the winter. 

While many gardeners look to plant bulbs during the fall, it’s worth considering that this is a risk as this is the time of year when the food sources begin to dwindle for squirrels so those bulbs will be a prime target.

It’s not uncommon to see a squirrel or two digging around your garden during the fall months.

The diet of the squirrel is pretty simple; they rely on protein rich plant based foods which are commonly found in things like nuts and of course, your precious gladiolus bulbs.

While these bulbs aren’t at the top of the squirrels menu, they do enjoy them when they can. However, if you have tulip or crocus bulbs, they’ll go for these as a first choice.

For those that plant gladiolus bulbs, you’ll need to keep an eye out for squirrels who will come into your garden and pull out the bulbs.

But these animals aren’t the only threat since things like chipmunks will also try their luck. If you have a lot of mature trees in the nearby area, there is even more of a risk of these animals being present.


Bad News: The problem is that, in areas like this, where the squirrel population is high, you’re going to have a very hard time growing gladiolus at all. 


Are There Any Bulbs That Squirrels Don’t Eat?

Squirrels are overly fussy when it comes to food.

While many larger animals such as deer will feast on the leaves and flowers, squirrels don’t waste any time in getting down to the good stuff; the bulb.

Squirrel eat Gladiolus Bulbs
Hungry squirrel

This part of the plant contains a lot of essential nutrients and squirrels literally go nuts for them.

When they’re starving, they become even less fussy and will eat pretty much any type of bulb going.

That said, there are a number of squirrel resistant bulbs that have properties that make them less attractive to squirrels. 

If a bulb is poisonous or the sap is milky, it’s far more unlikely that a squirrel will attempt to dig it up.

There are also a few bulbs that don’t taste very good and so squirrels will typically leave these behind.

These include:

  • Daffodils
  • Lily of the valley
  • Hyacinth
  • Fritillaria
  • Glory of the snow
  • Allium
  • Siberian iris

Can I Stop Squirrels From Eating My Gladiolus Bulbs?

If you’ve been having problems with pesky squirrels using your gladiolus bulbs as a snack then the good news is that there are a few things you can do to try and deter them.

Keep in mind that nothing is guaranteed and since these animals are smart, they may figure out what you’re up to and try their luck another way.

  1. Like many animals, squirrels use their sense of smell to navigate the world; along with their other senses of course. However, you’ll find that they are very attracted to strong smells so if you’re covering your garden in stinky fertilizers that contain things like fish emulsion and bone meal, this is going to serve as an attractant. To keep squirrels at bay, try a synthetic fertilizer that doesn’t have a strong odor. 
  1. One of the best ways to prevent squirrels from getting to your bulbs is simply to cover them. You can use chicken wire or some kind of hardy cloth but you’ll need to make sure that you also cover this material with a layer of mulch. It is also possible to make small chicken wire cages to surround the bulbs which will also stop underground animals from getting to them.
  1. If you find that squirrels are going primarily for your gladiolus bulbs, it can be useful to change the way that you plant them. Instead of planting them in a group on their own, place the bulbs among other plants so that the squirrels are not as easily able to find them. 
  1. It’s also worth considering the way that you protect your bulbs from the surface. A good, and very simple, deterrent is to pop some sharp gravel or shells over the soil. Just be sure that you only do this on well established beds. 
  1. There are a lot of natural products that can be used to deter squirrels including things like red chilli flakes.
  1. When you are planting your bulbs, always make sure that you clean up properly when you’re done. Any bits of bulb including the papery parts that are left behind on the surface will attract attention from the squirrels. Take the time to clear these away and leave as few clues to the bulb’s presence as possible. 
  1. If  you enjoy seeing squirrels in your garden but don’t want them eating your precious bulbs, you might offer another source of food. You can set up a squirrel feeding area where you can provide them with things like grains and nuts. They’ll be more interested in this easily accessible food source and this should divert their attention away from your bulbs. 
  1. As we mentioned earlier, squirrels begin foraging for food in the summer and early fall. If you can, try delaying the time when you would plant your gladiolus bulbs and hold off until the end of October when the squirrels become a little less active. 

Conclusion

Wherever you live, it is likely that there is some kind of squirrel population.

These animals can be a nuisance in the garden and can often be found digging up and eating gladiolus bulbs.

While this can be a pain, there are things you can do to prevent this including setting up a squirrel feeding station, delaying when you plant your bulbs and covering them once you’re done. 

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