Deer Resistant Gardens | Fall Planted Bulbs | Gardening 101 | Tips & Tricks

Best Squirrel and Deer Resistant Bulbs: Our Top 10 Fall Planted Favorites


You, like me, like most gardeners want a bounty of beautiful blooms in their spring garden. You have made your purchase, received your flower bulbs, got your shovel ready, amended your soil and are ready to plant.  But then out of nowhere you hear this chirping sound coming from the maple tree nearby, but it’s not a bird, it’s definitely not a plane, it’s a squirrel! As little miss squirrel enjoys her fall harvest of acorns and other delights from nature, you are reminded that you are now planting a buffet for little miss squirrel and her family to feast on.

Digging and planting bulbs in fall is a very rewarding task, especially in spring when you can reap the fruits of your labor. However, if you dig, sweat and plant only to have your efforts destroyed by squirrels it can certainly become frustrating. You can use repellents such as Liquid Fence, or hot pepper spray to keep the squirrels at bay. However, sometimes repellents alone aren’t enough to fend off these pesky critters. Other methods at planting involve laying hardware cloth just below the soil surface, to prevent the squirrels from digging. This however, can be a bit labor intensive, and add cost to your garden planning.

Top 5 Squirrel Resistant Bulbs

Ruby Giant Crocus

If you want to dig, drop and be done plant bulbs that squirrels don’t typically dig up. (I say typically because when wild animals are hungry, they will eat anything—even if it is something they normally don’t favor.) These 5 fall planted bulbs should stay safe from Mr. and Mrs. Squirrels buffet once planted:

  1. Crown Imperial Often referred to by their botanical name: Fritillaria, these tall spring blooming bulbs have many positives going for them! First, gardeners love crown imperial because of their exotic bell shaped blooms, which sit on top of tall stems. Second, they are available in bright, warm colors like yellow, red and orange. Third, their skunky odor helps keep squirrels away, it is also said to repel moles—bonus! Those are 3 positive attributes for the crown imperial, their only drawback is they can be a bit finicky when it comes to the soil they are planted in. Drainage is critical for successfully growing fritillaria bulbs. If the soil they are planted in holds any moisture, it can lead to rotting over winter. When planting Crown Imperial be sure to amend your soil with organic matter. Another planting tip when planting fritillaria bulbs is to lay the bulbs on their side, so that the hollow center is not in a position where it will collect water.
  2. White Giant Allium– They are hard to miss in the late spring garden with their purple, pink or white ball shaped blooms.  Allium flowers are known for their large globe shaped blooms, and several varieties are available. All allium bulbs will be resistant to squirrel attacks, however the White Giant stands out from the crowd! White Giant Allium will bloom in late spring, with peonies and bearded iris. The large white blooms, can grow up to 6” in diameter upon up to 5′ tall stems. Allium are often called Flowering Onions, they don’t give off the scent quite like an onion does. However, the bulbs and leaves do taste like an onion, which squirrels tend to dislike, therefore leaving the allium bulbs in your garden safe from their attacks.
  3. Ruby Giant Species Crocus– A crocus on this list? Are you for real? Aren’t crocus the equivalent of M&M’s for humans?  Well if you have posed any or all of these questions above, you are correct, squirrels do tend to thoroughly enjoy the taste of crocus bulbs.  However, there is one species of crocus that squirrels do not enjoy: Crocus tommasinianus also known as Tommies. One of my favorite crocus because I love the color purple so much is the Ruby Giant Species Crocus, which is a cultivar of Crocus tommasinianus.  So what keeps the squirrels away from the Ruby Giant Crocus and other Tommies? They release alkaloids which have a bitter flavor that squirrels dislike. Other crocus species do not have this same alkaloid, and therefore are fair game for the squirrels. If you love crocus, but also have a lot of squirrels in your yard, plant the Ruby Giant Species Crocus!
  4. Minnow Rock Garden Daffodils—Daffodils are the most well known spring blooming bulb to be deer and squirrel resistant. Any and ALL daffodils are not affected by critters, due to the alkaloids they release that these animals do not like. With so many to choose from in your quest to not feed the squirrels, Minnow Daffodil is one of my favorite dwarf daffodils for your spring garden. The dainty Minnow Daffodils have white petals with lemon yellow cups. These adorable small daffodils, work well in rock gardens, and naturalized areas. Not only are they untouched by squirrels when planted, once the blooms appear they have a sweet fragrance as well—bonus! For a soft and classic combination plant your Minnow Daffodils with other squirrel resistant bulbs that bloom in mid spring like Camassia, Siberian Squill and Mallee Pink Daffodils.
  5. Snowdrops—The earliest to bloom in spring, and often considered a delicacy in the flower bulb world. Snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) are an excellent groundcover bulb with dainty white blooms. Squirrels and deer do not favor these early spring blooming beauties. Be sure to purchase your Snowdrops early as they are typically only available early in the Fall season. If you have traditional snowdrops in your garden, try planting Double Snowdrops which have double the petals for a truly exquisite look!


Top 5 Deer Resistant Bulbs

Now that you have planted bulbs the squirrels don’t like, it’s time to think ahead to spring. Deer can be a major garden nuisance. Deer feast on trees, shrubs, perennials and spring flowering bulbs. Typically they do the most damage to flower bulbs in spring when the foliage and blooms first emerge. If you have waited all winter to enjoy the beauty of the bulbs you planted in fall, it can be a real disappointment to see them ravaged by deer once they start to bloom.

If deer tend to visit your back yard oasis frequently, you can use repellents like Liquid Fence to help prevent them from eating the blooms and foliage. Keep in mind you will need to frequently apply Liquid Fence to the area, and blooms, especially if it rains after the initial application.  Another option to prevent deer from destroying all your hard work is to use deer netting. The way deer netting works is the foliage begins to emerge in spring you will place the deer netting over the emerging foliage.  As the bulbs grow the netting rises up with the foliage and protects the flowers from being eaten.

Repellents and netting can be helpful if you are determined to have tulips in your yard, and the deer are determined to try and eat your tulips. For a more reliable method of keeping your blooms safe from hungry deer, plant bulbs this fall that the deer won’t eat in spring. You may think you are limited to only daffodils, but there are many colorful spring flowers that the deer don’t like. Listed below are 5 choices of deer resistant flowers for spring blooms:

  1. Oriental Poppies: These hardy perennials have large, colorful showy blooms in mid to late spring. The most recognizable Oriental poppy is the bright re to orange blooms of the Turkenlouis Oriental Poppy. For gardeners looking to expand the color selection in their poppies, Harlem Oriental Poppy blooms with deep raspberry blooms. Deer tend to stay away from Oriental Poppies, due to their toxic nature when eaten. Oriental Poppies are available in white, orange, salmon, red-orange and deep raspberry. When planting oriental poppies in your deer proof garden, be sure the soil they are planted in has adequate drainage, as they do not like wet feet.
  2. Star of Persia Allium– All varieties of allium are deer resistant, so you can plant any of these bulbs and know that the deer will not eat them. Whether it is the tall blooms of the Allium giganteum, or the yellow garlic like blooms of the Moly Allium, the deer will stay away. One of my favorite varieties of allium is the Star of Persia Allium. The blooms on the Star of Persia are large 8-12” diameter! Star of Persia Allium don’t get quite as tall as other giant allium like Gladiator, or White Giant, they tend to max out at a bit over 2’. The deer won’t eat the flowers which is great, because that means the flowers will be available for cut flower arrangements as well!
  3. Mixed Daffodils: Just like the squirrels do not like daffodils, deer also don’t like daffodils. Rest assured any variety of daffodil you plant will be safe from deer, squirrel, bunny and chipmunk attacks. Mixed daffodil packages are the perfect choice for any gardener! They provide an assortment or bloom colors, and shapes. Daffodils are easy to grow in hardiness zones 3-8.
  4. Gravetye Giant Leucojum– Known also as Summer Snowflake, although we aren’t certain why since they bloom in spring. Leucojum can also be called: dewdrop, loddon lily, St. Agnes Flower and snowbell.  The fragrant bell shaped blooms appear in mid-Spring. The foliage of the Snowflake is grassy, and grows about 18” tall, the bell shaped blooms sit atop of the grassy leaves. This deer resistant spring blooming flower, is great for naturalizing and works well in woodland situations.  If you haven’t planted Gravetye Giant Leucojum yet, I strongly suggest giving these dainty white blooms a place to call home in your garden.
  5. Wood Hyacinths- Colorful bell shaped flowers, are also known as Spanish Bells. We love using the wood hyacinths for naturalized areas, as they are known to be strong multipliers. These colorful ground cover bulbs grow well in shade, to partial shade.  Mixed Wood Hyacinths will bloom in pink, white and blue for a diverse color scheme. All parts of this plant are poisenous if ingested, which is why deer stay away from these late spring blooming flowers.

Deer Resistant Bulbs

When preparing your fall garden plans, it is important to consider soil, light and what pests could interfere. Getting ahead of the squirrels and deer by planting bulbs they don’t favor is the best way to prevent your hard work being diminished. This list of 10 deer resistant and squirrel resistant plants will help ensure you have blooms all spring!

Need Gardening Help?

If you need any help with gardening or if you have plant-related questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Jenny San Filippo. She can provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed with your next project!

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