Crocus flowers. With their unique growth cycle, early blooming (typically between January and April), perennial nature (they will return every year), and beautiful color tones( from purple to white to tallow), there’s a lot to love them for.
This makes it all the more alarming when we discover that they are the prey of quite a few predators.
But just who are these crocus eaters? And more importantly, how can we stop them?
So what eats crocus flowers? Crocuses are enjoyed by many animals and insects. Squirrels are the primary culprit you ought to look out for. They are followed closely by mice, rats, and even birds. Insect-wise, slugs, snails, aphids, and bulb mites pose the most risk.
Let’s continue to explore these before turning to all of the best ways of setting up defense against them!
What Is Eating My Crocus Flowers?
When it comes to crocuses, squirrels are the most relentless of predators.
Our bushy-tailed friends will not only happily munch on the plant’s foliage and flower buds, but they’ll dig up and devour their bulbs too!
The bulbs offer squirrels a considerable amount of nutrients, which is exactly what they need after a bout of frosty weather.
Whilst the blooming of crocuses in Winter time is fantastic from an aesthetic point of view, it’s safe to say that their existence during this time is a double-edged sword.
On the other end of that very sword, you may just find a few rodents.
During winter, the usual food sources for rats and mice are low in volume.
So when they come across a crocus plant, no matter what the variety, they’ll eat it not because it’s their favorite meal but because it’s all they can get their paws on.
Much like squirrels, they’ll dig them up and eat their bulbs. Oftentimes the crocus ends up harmed beyond repair.
Birds, particularly sparrows, are also big fans of crocus flowers. They err towards the yellow variety and happily peck away at them.
For sparrows, crocuses are more of a starter than a main meal.
Their appeal comes from their yellow color, as well as the many insects that live on them.
Slugs and Snails
If you come across a slimy trail or two on your crocus plant, it’s likely that slugs, snails, or both, have successfully invaded it.
Their nocturnal nature means they’ll munch away on the plant’s leaves, stems, and flower buds at night time and are at their most active when the weather is cool and wet.
The degree of damage that they are capable of inflicting is surprisingly considerable, so early intervention is always best!
As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.
This is especially true when it comes to aphids, pests that have a reputation for their rapid reproduction.
Aphids suck the sap out of crocus plants, in turn weakening the plants and distorting their growth. To make it worse, they spread viruses too.
The crocus is a bulb plant, which means that it is prone to bulb mite infestations.
If your plant’s bulb is in good condition, you won’t have a problem.
But if it has any openings or significantly soft points, bulb mites may well be able to penetrate them.
When they do, they’ll chew on the bulb like there’s no tomorrow, in turn giving rise to all sorts of bacteria and fungi.
The bulb will begin to rot, and consequently, the entire plant will struggle to grow.
How Do I Stop My Crocus Flowers From Being Eaten?
Fortunately, there are several ways by which you can prevent your beloved crocus plants from being eaten.
Slug pellets can be purchased at your local garden center or online, like this excellent brand on Amazon.
Applying them is as simple as scattering them on the soil around your crocus plants.
They’re a trap for slugs in that they contain attractants that will draw them in, but ultimately, the poison that they contain will kill them.
Nonetheless, whilst the pellets offer an effective way to eliminate slugs from the vicinity of your crocus, they are highly contentious due to their toxic nature.
They’re not only a risk for slugs but also other animals, insects, and even children, who may find themselves in your garden.
There is general agreement amongst gardeners that removing snails and slugs from plants by hand is the far better and safer solution.
Whilst it may sound laborious; it’s as simple as putting on gloves, picking up the bugs, and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water.
Just remember, the creatures are nocturnal, so you’ll need to take action at night.
A powerful hose pipe stream is the best way to get rid of aphids. Simply hose them away.
Your crocus should be able to withstand the water pressure, and provided you do a thorough job; you’ll find yourself aphid free in no time!
Another strategy entails the use of scents.
There are several smells that rodents and squirrels dislike, so their placement on and around your crocus plant acts as an effective deterrent.
For instance, both squirrels and rodents dislike the smell of eucalyptus, citronella, and peppermint.
With these around, you’re likely to successfully scare them off!
Pesticide solutions are an effective way to clear up bulb mite infestations and even to prevent them.
Before you plant your crocus, it’s worth applying a pesticide to the perimeter of its bulb to inhibit mites from entering them.
However, if your plant is exhibiting signs that it’s already been infested, pesticides can help to eliminate them too.
It’s best to catch the mites as early on as you can to prevent them from harming your plant to an irreparable point.
You can deter birds from eating your crocuses by covering the plants with a chicken wire barrier.
This solution is best adopted when the plant is still young and thus not as resilient as it will one day grow to be.
When your crocus is fully formed, removing the barrier is unlikely to result in problematic bird attacks.
Really, rather than devouring crocuses, birds only tend to peck at them.
Whilst the crocuses may resultantly display slight signs of superficial distortion, the likelihood is that they’ll still be more than capable of thriving and growing.
Nonetheless, it is worth remembering that sparrows are initially drawn to the yellow color of crocuses, so if you want to be on the extra safe side, simply opt for a different variety of crocus.
How Do I Get My Crocuses To Flower Again?
Crocuses are perennials which means that they are supposed to flower year after year, every Winter.
However, severe animal and pest invasions can truly damage them and inhibit their annual growth.
For this reason, the first step to ensuring that your crocuses flower again is to undertake a cold case of pest control.
The outlined solutions in the section above should provide you with sufficient guidance to do so.
Once you’ve dealt with the pests, you’ll be glad to know that keeping your crocuses in a good state is pretty easy work.
Optimize Growing Conditions
Of course, you’ll need to ensure that they’re existing in their optimal growing conditions.
Their soil should be well-drained, and they should receive a decent amount of sunlight throughout the day.
Fertilizers can help too. Crocuses are most compatible with slow-release fertilizers, of which the extra nutrients will allow for an abundance of healthy blooming!
Cut Back Leaves
Finally, whilst there’s no need to prune crocuses, you will need to cut back their leaves.
Remember to do so only when the leaves are dead rather than when they begin to show signs of withering away.
This will ensure that your crocus retains sufficient energy for any remaining growth needs.
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