Coffee grounds a squirrel deterrent?

alison(6b/OH)May 7, 2006

Every spring I plant a ton of oriental lily bulbs -- only to have the squirrels swoop in and gnaw down, chew up, or otherwise destroy most of them. The only ones that live are the few that somehow make it to about 6" tall.

This spring, all 15 I planted in a corner bed came up unmolested. It wasn't that the squirrels were gone; they had a field day with the lilies planted in other beds.

The only thing I did different was spread coffee grounds in the corner bed. (I collect them thru out the year to put in my compost pile; at one point htis winter I came home with two giant garbage bags of pure grounds, no filter or anything, so I thought I'd try spread one bag out as a mulch.)

Could it have been the coffee? Has anyone else tried this?

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hld6(z7 MD)

How deep do you plant your bulbs?

I plant Oriental liles deep, 8" -10". Orientals benefit from deep planting because they are stem rooting. A side benefit is that it makes it harder for hungry varmits to get them. We have MANY squirrels where I live yet they don't get these lily bulbs . However, there are a few types of lilies that need to be planted shallowly and that was one that the squirrels got. (It was one of my Cernuum bulbs that are small and are only planted 4" deep.) I've heard (and noticed myself) that squirrels will dig into freshly turned over soil so maybe the coffee grounds helped disquise the "fresh earth" odor.

I've never had squirrels go after my new sprouts or young plants so I can't help you there.

Thanks for the idea. I think I'll try using coffee grounds this Fall when I plant some replacement Cernuum.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 9:42PM
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I don't plant them that deeply, and I know I should. I usually put them 6, maybe 8" deep.

I usually lose a couple of the bulbs that the squirrels not only dig up, but break apart and scatter around. (Little brats!)

I lose the majority of my lilies after they come up, when they are mayber 2-3" tall. The vermin simply gnaw the stalks in half and leave them lying there. But this year -- they're safe!

I have two inexpensive soil test kits; I'm going to run them on the mulched bed and a neighboring bed that didn't get the coffee mulch, to see how much of a difference there is. But the roses, autumn lilac, tradescantia, chamomile and foxgloves that were coffee mulched came up great this spring, so I don't think there was a negative effect.

I'm definitely keeping this in mind next spring -- I might actually get all the lilies I want! (Or can afford....)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 6:32PM
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bella_trix(z6b SE PA)

Could it be because it covers up the smell of the bulbs? I know that people use coffee beans to clear a smell from your nose. My friend was picking out scented candles and inhaled a bag of coffee beans in between to clear out the last scent. Maybe the coffee makes it hard for the squirrels to know the bulbs are there. I think I'll try it next year if I'm in a squirrel area. Oddly, they never touch my tiger lilies. Anyone know why?


    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 8:19PM
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I don't know if the coffee grounds help (though they are great for the soil in general), but I wanted to let you know about a product I use on ALL my lily and tulip bulbs. It's called ROPEL, and you can get it at Brent and Becky's Bulbs website (Florida). I accidentally got some residue on my fingers and it got into my mouth. Boy, was it NASTY TASTING! It has been very effective for us. :0) Phyl

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 3:30PM
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