If you grow Tulips in your garden, naturally, you are going to want to keep them safe from predation. Besides, it can be really disheartening to see them eaten – particularly when you take into account all the time and effort that has gone into their care. So what are the main culprits here, and how can you protect your tulips from them? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know.
So, what eats tulip flowers? There is a diverse range of animals and insects that eat tulip flowers, including the smaller aphids, bulb mites, and spider mites, to larger animals like voles, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and even deer.
As you can see, tulips are quite a desirable flower!
So let us continue to explore all those potential predators, and then we will look at keeping them away for good.
What Is Eating My Tulips?
Tulips are often eaten by various insects and animals.
Rodents tend to be attracted to bulbs, and unfortunately, tulips are no exception! To get to the bulb and even the petals, which they find oh-so palatable, rats go as far as digging the tulip plants out entirely.
Next, they’ll either devour them there and then on the spot or cleverly add them to their winter stash to be eaten at a later date.
Autumn time is the highest risk period for your tulips, as far as rats are concerned.
It’s during this period that the weather begins to cool down significantly, and in turn, their usual prey becomes more difficult to source.
Another rodent! When these dedicated herbivores stumble upon a bed of tulips, they may as well be at an all-you-can-eat buffet!
When they tunnel around underground, the tulip bulbs and roots are at risk, and when they’re overground, they’ll go for its petals too!
So if you find that your tulips aren’t quite growing as they should, i.e., that their leaves are discolored or that they’re failing to bloom together, it just may be a hint that you have a voracious vole or two on your hands!
It’s no secret that deer love to eat tulip plants.
They are possibly their favorite sweet treat of them all, and they’ll happily eat the entire plant.
Even so, their favorite part to feast on is their leaves, which store a great deal of moisture.
Consequently, with their leaves gone, the tulips struggle to conjure up the energy to bloom.
Tulips are a regular component of a squirrel’s diet.
Not only do they enjoy snacking on the plant’s petals and bulbs, but even when they’re not eating them, they tend to harm the plant’s bulbs as they burrow holes in which to store their beloved nuts.
Given that squirrels scurry through our gardens both in abundance and often, it’s no surprise that the tulips simply can’t seem to win!
That’s right! Our ever-beloved long-eared furry friends have made the list, and interestingly, they’re arguably one of the most relentless tulip predators of all!
Reason being, they are active all year round and around the clock too. Hence whether it’s day or night, Summer or Winter, your tulips are at risk.
Namely, its leaves, which are the rabbit’s favorite part to eat!
So if you spot suspicious tracks in your garden and notice that your tulip’s leaves have been compromised, there is a considerable chance that it was the doing of a rabbit.
If you come across a sticky honeydew substance on the leaves and flowers of your tulip plants, you may well have an aphid infestation on your hands.
Aphids work by sucking the sap out of plants, and unfortunately, tulips are no exception.
In turn, the tulip leaves become discolored, and so the plant ultimately lacks the energy that it needs to grow.
Whilst tulips are fairly resistant to small infestations; large ones have the potential to wipe them out completely!
Finally, both bulb mites and spider mites pose a risk to tulips.
Whilst bulb mites evidently attack the plant’s bulbs; spider mites attack its foliage and stems.
When the two are in force together, no tulip is safe!
As a result, the tulip’s growth will be inhibited, an effect that, depending on the size of the infestation, could well be a permanent one.
How Do I Stop My Tulips From Being Eaten?
Fortunately, there are a number of methods that can be adopted to salvage your tulips!
I’ve outlined the most common of them below!
Install a Fence
First and foremost, to protect their tulips from rodents and other animals that pose a risk both underground and overground, many gardeners choose to install a short fence around their perimeter.
The most effective fences span a length of around four feet. That is one foot underground and three overground.
The use of mesh, such as chicken wire, has also been known to mitigate rodents, such as rats and mice, from getting to the tulips.
The mesh exists as a cage-like structure around the tulip bulbs.
A barrier that the rodents are unable to intercept. The mesh can be secured down with lawn staples or even heavy rocks during the Autumn and Winter months.
When the plants begin to bloom, the mesh, unless it is raised with sufficient room beneath it, should be removed, thereby allowing the tulips to grow in a proper manner.
Another tactic is to strategically surround your tulips with alternative plants.
Of course, the plants you choose should be ones that are not at all appealing to predators.
For example, both deers and voles dislike daffodils, and if they find them near the tulips, they may well take their attention elsewhere!
Scent and Taste Deterrents
Deterrents that mess with their senses are a great way to repel animals and pests.
For instance, the constant presence of soap bars and cayenne pepper is an effective deterrent against deer.
Similarly, both peppermint and cayenne pepper scents are effective rodent repellents.
The sensory overload will have them fleeing the vicinity of your tulips in no time.
Insecticidal soaps and neem oil are two handy solutions to keep those pesky mites at bay. Found in most gardening shops, they are accessible enough.
Simply dispense the treatments daily until the bugs are gone.
Plus, neem oil can also be utilized as a preventative treatment to ward off bugs and infections alike.
It is a long-known gardening tip that aphids are best removed via water treatment. That is, to hose your tulips down and knock the aphids off in the process.
You’ll need a significant degree of water pressure, but not so much that it will adversely affect the tulip itself.
In fact, this approach is best utilized only if you are confident that your tulips are sturdy to withstand the pressure.
How Do I Get My Tulips To Flower Again?
Tulips are perennial, meaning that you can rely on them to come back year after year, every Spring.
However, there are several reasons why they may fail to flower. Whilst it’s not exactly resolvable if the tulip buds are simply unviable or of poor quality, if the problem is that the tulip has been damaged by some external factors, such as falling prey to animals, there is still hope!
Here are a couple of ways that you can ensure your tulips are kept in good health:
Protect Them From Further Damage
Reduce the risk (or further risk) of them being eaten.
To do so, adopt the above-mentioned methods. Nonetheless, if an animal has really gone to town on the tulips, specifically their bulbs, it’s likely that you’ll need to replace them.
If their bulbs and foliage are still intact, they may well survive. Use your best judgment to make the call, and regardless, you’ll find out in Spring!
Slow-release fertilizers can significantly help tulips to grow, whether they’re healthy or in need of some TLC.
Autumn is the best time to disperse fertilizer, as it’s then that the plant is capable of absorbing the most nutrients.
In turn, this will help them to face the harsh winter conditions to come, as well as to rehabilitate from any previous trauma they may have undergone.
Cut Them Back
Additionally, around six weeks after your tulips have flowered, it is recommended that you cut them back.
Doing so will divert the tulip’s energy from its flowers to its roots and bulbs.
This is extremely beneficial for overall growth, and year upon year, provided the soil condition is as it should be, the tulips will grow back bigger and better.
Related guides you may want to check out: