Saturday, April 30, 2016

Is it Time to Just Stop Planting Tulips?

After some wild fluctuations in weather, spring has finally arrived (still knocking on wood).  Several of my shrubs were affected by the drastic drop in temperatures we had, and I am still waiting to see how well they recover, but the spring bulbs were mostly insulated by snow.  I was delighted to see that the cold barely slowed them down, and they are now blooming their heads off.


Well, most of them...


My tulips are one of the few flowers that I spray with deer deterrent, but I must not have been as diligent with reapplying as I should have been as almost every single one of my fabulous 'Flair' Tulip flowers have been eaten.

a couple surviving tulips
While daffodils are one of my favorite flowers, and I plant a lot of them as well as other bulbs, there's just nothing like that instant impact that a mere handful of those orangey-red tulips makes.

last year's display of tulips, grape hyacinth, and daffodils
Instead, thanks to the greedy deer, my front garden hellstrips definitely look like they are missing something...

Now imagine this with some wonderfully brilliant orangey-red tulips...
I console myself with many of the fabulous and, more importantly, deer-proof bulbs blooming around the yard.

deer-proof daffodils around the greenhouse
Would any of them be bright enough to take the place of my 'Flair' Tulips?

Narcissus 'Barrett Browning'
Bright daffodils take center stage in other places around the garden, especially when underplanted with contrasting flowers.  While I don't think they make quite as bold a statement as the tulips, at least the flowers are happily nibble-free!

Narcissus 'Intrigue', 'Golden Echo', and others with Grape Hyacinth
I fear my tulip planting days are over.

a mass of Narcissus 'Barrett Browning' and 'Trepolo'
The tulips may come back next year, but either way I think I will need to amend my spring plan for my front hellstrip gardens.  Something more deer proof...


Which sadly definitely rules out tulips.


37 comments:

  1. I have the same problem with rabbits eating tulips. I gave up on planting them years ago. I don't have much patience for having to repeatedly spray deterrents, and frankly it didn't work consistently for me anyway. I tried planting some tulips in pots last fall, but they didn't make an appearance at all this spring. I am thinking about planting tulips surrounded by daffodils, but if they don't make it, no heroic measures from me.

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    1. There are only a couple things I plant that aren't pretty resistant to deer, and tulips were one of them. I thought I'd only have to spray them for a several days out of the year. I guess that didn't work this year!

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  2. Oh no. I have already given up with tulips, there are way too many critters that will have them for breakfast and I had no luck whatsoever with deterrents. Something is even eating the daffodils here, even surrounded as they are by a wire cage. Mice/voles I suspect. The garden is very dull without any Spring bulbs.

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    1. Wow, I've never heard of anything eating daffodils! You must have special pirate voles that have built up a poison tolerance? You poor thing!

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  3. My philosophy is to stop fighting the wildlife. Give them the win and move on. I know it's sad when we can't plant something we love. The voles have been very active this spring and every morning when I walk the garden there is another plant down the hole. It's frustrating.

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    1. Oh that is frustrating, especially when they strike from underground! I feel blessed that where I live now there are several good sized snakes. I'll take snakes over the voles any day.

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  4. This was my first year growing tulips. Just my experience, but the early tulips were much more susceptible to deer damage than the later ones that emerged once the deer already had lots of other green and growing plants to eat. So maybe you could try to find especially late-blooming varieties and give them a try?

    Otherwise, I say plant more daffodils! And maybe some hyacinths too? :)

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    1. I do have some hyacinths, especially grape hyacinths planted around, and I have several other deer-resistant bulbs that bloom. I just love that tulip's orange-red color! There are a few daffodils that have a similar color combination, so I might just plant some of those in the front.

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  5. Have you thought about putting chicken wire around the bulbs as a barricade? At least then you could cut the bulbs after they bloom and bring them inside and then take down the wire.

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    1. Sadly I have critters indoors that would eat them, too! I have very few houseplants thanks to one rather not-so-bright, green-munching cat!

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  6. So, if the hellstrip is foraged by deer but not your back yard, does this mean deer wander the streets of your neighborhood at night? Yes, I'd find something more durable for the hellstrip.

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    1. Oh, they love my backyard, and I've seen them hanging out by our detention pond quite a bit. I just don't plant anything they'd eat back there, and my veggie garden is surrounded by a very goodly-sized fence. Those hoodlum deer do wander the neighborhood streets at night, though, according to my neighbors! :)

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  7. Pity about the Tulips, mind you with such a fantastic range of Daffs to choose from its maybe not such a hardship to lose the Tulips.

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    1. I do love daffodils. I think I'm just going to have to plant some with some orange and red right there!

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  8. A small outdoor dog (half Jack Russell, half rat terrier) helps me with tulips -- the ones farther from the house are sometimes munched, but those nearer the house are usually OK. She sometimes digs a little, but on net she's a help to the garden.

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    1. Indie, I meant to ask you about your greenhouse -- have you been able to use it this spring to start seeds? I'm thinking of getting a very small one (just posted about it) and would like to know how yours has worked. Thanks! -Beth

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    2. It depends on what type of seeds. I actually just recently opened the greenhouse back up for spring, as it was really too expensive to heat during the winter. I found that my tomatoes did much better and grew much more quickly inside my house instead of being stressed with the cold from the greenhouse. Now that temperatures are warmer, I've moved most of my seedlings into the greenhouse. If I hadn't so busy I would have probably started more cool-season seeds in there. The greenhouse does help extend the season into fall for my tomatoes and peppers quite a bit, though! Enjoy!

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    3. Hi Indie, Thanks for your response -- I'm glad to hear that you've been able to use the greenhouse for some seeds this spring, as that's what I'm considering doing, as well as extending tomatoes and herbs in fall. I'd really love to read a post showing what you do in there, if you have time at some point (time: the thing that is in short supply for gardeners in spring...). Thanks! -Beth

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    4. I'd love to write a post about it - when I find the time! My poor blog gets neglected quite a bit during spring, but that's how it is with us gardeners :)

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  9. There is nothing more maddening. I surely sympathize with you. I have sat in my garden and cried. A big dog didn't help, and I had to spray every other day...expensive! I've bought enough deer spray over the years to have installed a fence many times over, so I finally bit the bullet and had deer fencing put in last fall. Not around the entire property because I don't garden the whole property, and not just around the garden, which would feel too closed in for me, but about half way between which put it through the trees so it is hardly noticeable. The difference is unbelievable!! I didn't realize how much they were eating. I wish I had done it sooner. My deer ate ANYTHING, including peonies, irises, foxglove and poppies, all said to be extremely deer resistant. Yet, I continued to buy roses and pretty perennials. This is the first year the buds are not eaten off before they bloom, and the plants are more than a few inches tall. If you have a lot of trees on your property, you can weave the netting in and out among the trees yourself. A friend did that and it works great.

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    1. I'm glad the fence worked out so well for you! I'm not sure how I would fence in my front yard, unfortunately, without it looking odd. Thankfully, once tulip season is past and there's a lot more greenery up they don't usually bother a lot of my stuff. The exception is my raspberry patch, which I really need to figure out what to do with. At some point I'd love to put up another big fence like I have around my veggie garden and put my fruit plants in it!

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  10. Sadly I have had to give up on tulips too due to deer....but I may be trying some in a small protected cutting garden...we shall see.

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    1. Surprisingly, I had a couple clumps of tulips right next to my front door, and they survived the deer this year. One kind I had never seen in bloom before. So we'll see how long they keep coming up, but I think my days of planting new tulips are over.

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  11. Oh, that is so sad! I feel for you, Indie; I love tulips, too, and there's nothing quite like all the color they provide. For the past two years I've planted around 50 tulip bulbs in my roadside garden, planning this colorful display that passersby would notice. But something went digging in this area last fall, maybe squirrels, and I had 4 measly tulips bloom there this spring. I'm not giving up on tulips yet, but I am planting a lot more daffodils!

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    1. Oh no! Squirrels are pesky creatures. Did they leave the bulbs to replant or did they even eat the bulbs? In my last garden I didn't dare plant tulips either because the voles would tunnel under and eat the bulbs. There are just too many critters that enjoy tulips.

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  12. Deer have ruined many a garden plan. Perhaps you could plant tulips in pots close to your house where deer would be less inclined to venture. (Or are they that bold?)

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    1. Actually this year there were a few white and pink tulips right near our front door that actually bloomed! One type I had never seen bloom before because the deer usually come right up and eat them! They are usually either pretty brave or pretty desperate after our winters, I guess.

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  13. Our city decided to lower the deer population a couple of years ago. I miss the deer in our gardens... but the tulips were lovely this year. Thank you for welcoming me back... a few weeks turned into a year.

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    1. It's easy to do, especially when life gets so busy! Great to hear from you again, though!

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  14. Oh dear, I have almost given up tulips too – but for a completely different reason, more of an economical one as most people over here plant them as annuals and throw them away in the autumn before getting new ones in. That’s quite expensive if you have many….But tulips are so lovey so a few in a container..just a few :-)

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    1. Here it is cold enough that they actually do come back, which is nice. The deer find it nice as well ;)

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  15. Me too, me too. I plant tulips only in containers.

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    1. Maybe I could plant them in the containers on my deck. I don't think the deer would climb stairs...

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  16. Oh, that's too bad! Tulips are so lovely...but not worth it if you never get to see them!

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    1. Yeah, the ones I planted might come back next year, but no more buying tulips for me.

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  17. I love the flowers, Indie! Those tulips and daffodils are beautiful! I had no idea that deer like flowers that much.

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    1. I'm pretty sure everything likes tulips. Deer, rabbits, voles... They must not have any of those in Holland where they grow all these!

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