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How to Keep Deer From Eating Tulips

By Fern Fischer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Tulips, the colorful harbingers of spring, are very popular in gardens. Tulips also are popular with wild animals. Many species love to eat tulips, with deer being some of the most destructive. Not only will deer nip off a tulip flower in one bite, they often dig the bulbs and eat them, too.

Keep Deer Away from Tulips

Use a deer repellent at least once a week in your bulb garden. Commercial deer repellents are made to take advantage of the deer's excellent sense of smell, and they are typically an alarm scent of dead animals. Deer are extremely sensitive to this kind of scent and will stay away from it.

Deer repellents come in powder or granulated forms. Some may be concentrated liquid you can dilute and apply with a sprayer.

Know the habits of the deer in your neighborhood. Use a motion sensor to activate a light or radio. Or if you know that deer pass through every morning at dawn, set a timer to turn them on at about that time.

Sprinkle hot pepper flakes on your tulips. Make a hot pepper spray by boiling habaneros or other hot peppers in water until they are soft, then strain the spicy liquid off. Let it cool, and apply the liquid to your tulips with a sprayer. Add some prepared hot sauce to the water for an extra kick.

Buy or make wire cages in which to plant your tulip bulbs. These will protect them from small burrowing rodents as well as deer.

Construct a large cage for several bulbs by making a wire box from hardware cloth. Use a fine mesh for the sides and bottom, and a larger mesh like chicken wire for the top so the tulip foliage can easily grow through.

Make small cages for individual bulbs by folding two long rectangles into U shapes, then crossing them one inside the other to make a four-sided box with a double bottom. Use a larger mesh top so the foliage can grow through.

Keep a birdbath or other water source filled with clean water. Some animals eat tulips because the petals are so full of moisture, and it is one way the animal can rehydrate. Place your water source in an area away from the tulips so it doesn’t attract more hungry animals.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Deer repellent
  • Timer
  • Light
  • Radio
  • Wire mesh hardware cloth
  • Tin snips
  • Shovel

Tips

  • If you have already planted tulips bulbs, you can still use bulb cages if deer become an unexpected problem. Dig up your bulbs, and replant them in cages. Fall is the best time to do this, when the top growth has died completely back.
  • Some other home remedies that might be effective are human, dog or coyote urine around the edges of your tulip bed, small pieces of scented soap placed around your tulips, and mothballs or human hair scattered on the ground nearby.

About the Author

 

Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.