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What is Eating My Tulips? 6 Culprits Busted!

Tulips are spring bloomers from the perennial herbaceous geophytes. Usually large, they have big, showy petals adorned with bright coloring in shades of red, white, pink, or yellow.

However, the blotch at their base, around the tepals, is always differently colored from the rest of the flower.

To those who believe in symbolism, Tulips symbolize perfect love. But to some people, each colored version of a Tulip has a significance of its own.

For instance, it is thought that red tulips, stronger than the others, are associated with true love. White and purple are known to represent royalty.

Apart from colors, Tulips represent longevity, too, as a single Tulip bud can last up to ten years

Who doesn’t love Tulips? Pest more so than human beings.

As a gardener, it falls down on you to take care of your Tulips. We will be discussing how exactly these pests eat Tulips and how you can rid yourselves of them. 

 

What is Eating My Tulips?

Animals like mice, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and insects like bulb mites, spider mites, and aphids thrive on eating tulip petals. The colors of the flowers alone are mesmerizing – tulips make for easy prey.

What is Eating My Tulips?

What is Eating My Tulips?

 

1) Rabbits

Rabbits, especially grown-up ones, love to eat the buds and leaves of tulips

Rabbits, especially grown-up ones, love to eat the buds and leaves of tulips

Rabbits feast not just on the flower but also on the Tulips’ leaves and buds. Of all the food rabbits are known to eat, Tulips are probably their favorite snack.

This is bad news for gardeners and Tulip enthusiasts alike. It is indeed a fun affair to keep bunnies as household pets.

It is when they grow, though, that they become a nuisance. Rabbits need their space, and they also need their dose of Tulips.

You cannot have both your rabbits and Tulips. Also, if there are rabbits in your area, say at your neighbor’s, it would be wise to install a fence or some kind of barricade to keep them out. 

If you’re wondering who ate your precious Tulips, and there are bunnies in the area – it is probably them. 

 

Keeping Rabbits from Eating Tulips

As cute as they are, rabbits are a problem if your Tulips are not safe. You can somehow deter them from your Tulips by planting other leafy greens.

Rabbits do not just need just flowers for meeting their daily dietary requirements. With other food to distract them, they just might spare your flowers. 

But, if your goal is to keep rabbits out altogether, you can install some fences. Make sure they are buried 10-inches deep underground.

Rabbits are good jumpers and can hop around just about anything. The minimum fence height should be at least three feet to keep them from hopping into your garden or patio. 

One way to keep rabbits out of your tulip garden is to install fences that are at least 3 feet tall

One way to keep rabbits out of your tulip garden is to install fences that are at least 3 feet tall

If those pesky rabbits can’t seem to get enough of your Tulips, try another deterrent – plastic ornamental flowers. They are just as bright – even if artificial – and the rabbits will try eating them.

Another way to keep rabbits away from your tulips is to place plastic ornamental flowers in your garden

Another way to keep rabbits away from your tulips is to place plastic ornamental flowers in your garden

The plastic taste will eventually force them to look for food elsewhere, namely back home and outside your garden. 

Another remedy you can try is to dust talcum powder on your Tulips. This will serve a similar purpose to that of fake, plastic flowers.

The scent of the powder will mislead the rabbits, keeping your tulips safe.

You can go beyond just talcum powder – sprinkling red pepper around the garden creates a scent cloud deterring rabbits from the intended destination. It is all about using their keen smell to your advantage. 

 

2) Slugs

Slugs are another backyard pests that love to eat the tulips in your garden

Slugs are another backyard pests that love to eat the tulips in your garden

Slugs are a fan of Tulip leaves in particular. The leafier the plant, the healthier it will be for slugs.

Tulips grow luscious leaves – that are also in abundance. A whole flowerbed of Tulips has too many leaves.

It is perfect for a slug infestation. If you are not careful, slugs and their hunger can devour entire plants overnight. You need to detect slug infestations early. 

Slugs inhabit gardens after it rains. They need shelter from the cold and all the water.

Flowerbeds, surprisingly, are warm after the plant absorbs all the moisture. Also, the flowers and their leaves make for quite the umbrellas with constant rain.

It is all the more convenient for these slugs to have a food source nearby. They can, however, survive extreme cold. But out of habit, you will find them taking shelter in gardens. 

 

Keeping Slugs from Eating Your Tulips

You can identify the presence of slugs by the slimy trails they leave in their wake or slug eggs in the soil. Also, forget about looking for these slugs in the daytime.

For slugs, you are going to have to hunt at night. They will be hard to miss because slugs reproduce very fast for their swarms to work. 

One effective way to injure these slugs and possibly prevent them from infesting your tulips is to surround your tulip flowerbed with copper mesh, sharp, grainy sand, and small pieces of broken glass.

Placing sharp, grainy sand in your garden is one way to keep slugs away from tulips

Placing sharp, grainy sand in your garden is one way to keep slugs away from tulips

This will make it challenging for our slippery, slithery friends to move around. Slugs are bigger, and the most effective way to deal with them is by handpicking them.

Keep with you a bucket with soapy water and toss them in. 

 

3) Aphids

Aphids are the third most common pests that eat tulips

Aphids are the third most common pests that eat tulips

Aphids are small bugs known to suck sap from plants. They are more commonly known as plant louse or greenflies.

But Aphid is short for Aphidoidea. Like our slimy friends above, they also reproduce extensively.

Their infestation works only if they attack in numbers, so catching them early is all the more imperative. 

Aphids are Tulips fans. If you’ve got a Tulip flowerbed, they are sure to visit. It comes down to how you tackle this visit that will make all the difference.

Catching them is not easy as they are small in size. But swarms cannot go undetected for long.

They usually hide on the undersides of the foliage, feeding on the plant sap and petals. Check there the first thing, and you will have a definite answer.  

 

Keeping Aphids from Eating Your Tulips

You need to get them under control before they stipple the foliage, leaving it all brown and distorted. To catch them unawares, leave traps.

Yellow, sticky cards work best when hung hiding Tulip bulbs. They will get caught.

Aphids travel in swarms, and you won’t be able to see them all, but these filled cards will give you the heads up you need: prepare for an infestation. 

Placing yellow sticky cards near your tulips can help trap the aphids trying to eat them

Placing yellow sticky cards near your tulips can help trap the aphids trying to eat them

Next, you can get rid of aphids by spraying water on your tulips. In case of severe infestations, you could opt for neem oil.

Spraying neem oil will make it difficult for the aphids to feast on your hard-grown tulips. Alternatively, insecticides and horticultural oil are good choices, too.

In case it is black aphids, treatment is similar. 

Be very careful with aphids. If you are too harsh in your extermination, they might retaliate.

 

4) Animals

Moving to bigger pests, animals like mice, rats, voles, rodents, squirrels, and chipmunks feed on flowers and leaves.

Tulips are a particular favorite of rabbits, but squirrels and chipmunks will just about eat any flowers they can find. To get an idea of much of a problem, this can be, if left undealt, check these five critters out. 

Let’s go into the animals with the most potential for damage and how to protect your tulips.

 

a) Squirrels

One of the most common animals that eat tulips are squirrels

One of the most common animals that eat tulips are squirrels

Squirrels are curious little creatures. They have an impeccable palate and memorize taste effectively.

Spray some hot pepper solution on your tulips and watch how this keeps squirrels away. Be careful with the amount you spray, though.

Too much can damage the flowers, and too little can be ineffective. 

 

b) Raccoons

Raccoons are notorious for digging the entire tulip plant from the flower bed before feasting on the flowers

Raccoons are notorious for digging the entire tulip plant from the flower bed before feasting on the flowers

Raccoons are another fan of tulip bulbs. Crafty as they are, they will dig out the entire plant from their bed and feast on the flowers.

They can leave quite the mess in their wake. Raccoons, hence, pose a two-fold danger – dead tulips and messy gardens.

If you have any vegetables growing in your garden, you would be wise to consider some prevention against raccoon damage. Believe it or not, a strong fence is protection enough. 

 

c) Rats

Rats, like their raccoon friends, dig out the tulips from their flower bed before munching on the blooms

Rats, like their raccoon friends, dig out the tulips from their flower bed before munching on the blooms

Like raccoons, rats also dig out the plant, devouring the bulb later. For rats, fencing works – but not as effective.

The best bet against rats is to spray peppermint oil around your tulip plant. Rats are unhygienic and can cause more damage than just torn, decaying tulips. 

They’re known to carry all kinds of diseases with them and are highly unsanitary. You will not want to eat any vegetables – if you’ve got any – in your garden once your friends, the rats, are done with them. 

 

Bottom Line

Flowers are a source of pride for every gardener. The labor that goes into growing them is something only a gardener can tell the tale of.

To have all that hard work subjected to such damage is unbearable. It is advised to put into place certain precautions.

Fences will keep some of the bigger critters out.

Additionally, you could spray hot red pepper to keep squirrels at bay. Mostly, smaller insects are attracted to color.

The yellow sticky card hack that we mentioned can work wonders in trapping insects and giving you an indication of oncoming infestations. 

You are in charge of your tulips, and keeping them alive is in your hands. Keep them healthy, so your Tulips bloom long in the season.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.