With all the digging of soil required, planting bulbs in your garden can be hard work (not to mention tedious!) – so, why not save your arms, and invest in a bulb planter?
These handy devices make planting bulbs quicker and easier. They’re ideal for allotments if you’re growing bulb vegetables such as onion and garlic, as well as large flower beds and garden borders, where you might have hundreds of tulips or daffodils to get in the ground.
Planting your bulbs at the correct depth is an important factor in giving them the best start. They need to be deep enough to be secure in the ground, but close enough to the surface that the shoots can reach the light. Using a bulb planter can also help ensure they’re at the best depth.
If you’re sold on the benefits, we’ve put together this handy guide to 5 of the best bulb planters available, based on their functionality, durability, ease of use, and value for money.
Last update on 2021-04-17 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Your bulbs will be planted in no time – leaving you free to make yourself a well-earned cuppa.
Our best bulb planter has a depth scale and a trigger for soil release
Featuring a funky turquoise blue and orange design, our favourite bulb planter by Gardena is stylish, as well as practical.
The planter features a depth scale on the side, measuring out 5 – 10 – 15 cm, so you can see exactly how deep you’re planting your bulbs (as a rough guide, you should aim for around 2 x the diameter of your bulb).
There’s also a trigger on the handle, so that after you’ve cored your hole and planted your bulb, you can instantly release the soil to fill it in. This will work best with looser sandy soil, as opposed to clay.
The tool is made from high-quality, sturdy steel, with a Duroplast coating for additional rust-proofing. A plastic handle makes it more comfortable to use, especially in winter. Unfortunately, as there’s no long handle, you do need to kneel to use it, which might become uncomfortable after a while.
That’s really the only negative thing we can say about it though – this is a strong, durable, high-quality product, that offers good value for money, and is undoubtedly one of the best on the market.
- Made from high-quality steel, coated with Duroplast.
- Depth scale makes it easy to achieve the ideal depth.
- Automatic grip trigger instantly releases the soil to fill the planting hole.
- Stylish design.
- No long handle means you have to bend or kneel, which might become uncomfortable over time.
- Not suitable for use on lawn or turf.
This bulb planter offers unbelievable value if you’ve got loose, sandy soil
For anyone who likes the idea of a bulb planter, but isn’t prepared to spend too much, this great-value Draper 3082 model might be the perfect solution.
This one is made from chrome-plated steel, with precision ground blades for cutting through soil, and there’s also a plastic handle, for improved comfort. The handle can be squeezed to easily release the soil and fill in the hole once you’ve planted your bulb.
To make sure your bulbs go in at the correct depth, there’s a basic depth scale on the side, marking out 50mm and 100mm. Depending on your soil, you might need to twist and apply considerable force to core the soil to this depth.
The tool does feel a bit flimsy compared to other similar designs, and it’s definitely most effective when used in soft, sandy soil. Several online users have reported their tool bending or breaking when used in heavy or clay soils, so this might be one to avoid if you have this type of soil in your garden.
However, if you’ve got loose, sandy soil, and you’re not afraid to put in a bit of elbow grease, this bulb planter should be more than up to the task and offers unbeatable value.
- Made from durable chrome-plated steel, with precision ground blades.
- Plastic handle offers a more comfortable user experience.
- Spring-loaded handle for easy soil release.
- Depth scale of 50mm and 100mm marked on the side.
- Highly affordable.
- Feels flimsier than many similar designs.
- Struggles in heavy, wet or clay soil – prone to bending.
This long-handled bulb planter is perfect if you prefer to stand
Cost: Price not available
If you don’t fancy spending all that time on your knees, digging out holes for bulbs, this Long Handled Bulb Planter by Kent & Stowe enables you to core holes from a standing position.
It works in much the same way as the handheld tools, except that to use it, you apply the force with your foot on the footrest, rather than by hand. This could make it a great option for less physically-able gardeners – or just those who want to avoid a bad back! Just make sure you don’t press too hard in heavy or clay soils, so as not to bend the footrest.
Unlike the handheld tools, this foot-operated bulb planter doesn’t have a trigger option to release the soil, so you will need to manual scoop it back into the hole after planting, to fill it in.
There is a depth indicator on the side to enable you to see how deep you’re digging, and the handle is made from wood, which gives the tool an attractive, traditional look. The stylish handle comes at a price though, as this is the most expensive bulb planter on our list.
Despite these drawbacks, the purpose of a bulb planter is to make planting bulbs quicker and easier, and, by stopping you from having to continually bend over or kneel down, this long-handled option arguably does that more effectively than the manual options. If you want to preserve your back and/or knees, this is probably the best choice.
- Stylish wooden handle.
- Serrated edge for easy hole digging.
- Long handle allows you to work from a more comfortable standing position.
- Depth gauge so you can see how deep you’re planting.
- Pricier than handheld tools.
- No triggered release of soil.
- Foothold may bend in hard soil.
A stainless steel bulb planter that glides through soil and is resistant to rust
It’s back to a handheld model now with this award-winning 3060EL Stainless Steel Bulb Planter from Spear & Jackson, complete with red plastic handle.
To operate this bulb planter, you simply insert it into the soil where you want your bulb, twist it, and remove. A plug of soil the size of most standard plant pots (and which bulbs are supplied in) will be removed.
The bulb planter can be easily emptied of soil by squeezing the spring-loaded handle. To make this easier, the tool is made from stainless steel, which has minimal soil adhesion, as well as being resistant to rust. This is another one that’s most suited to fine, loose soil, as the handle is a little flimsy and prone to bending in heavy, clay or stony soils.
There are depth indicators on the side of the planter of 5cm and 10cm, which is useful in allowing you to know the depth of your bulbs. However, it doesn’t go as deep as the Gardena Bulb Planter, which has a depth indicator up to 15cm – so this might be less suitable for bulbs which need to go deep into the ground.
Overall, this is a good all-rounder that’s a little more solid than some of the cheaper products, but still only really recommended for use in damp, loose ground.
- Made from durable, rust-resistant stainless steel.
- Depth indicator of 5cm and 10cm to allow you to measure depth of bulbs.
- Spring-loaded handle for easy release of soil.
- Good value.
- Feels a little flimsy, only suitable for looser soils.
- No long handle means you will be planting on your knees.
A high-quality, handheld bulb planter with quick soil release
Our final bulb planter, this FHN Hand Tool, comes from another well-known brand, Wolf-Garten, and features a very similar design and price tag to the Spear & Jackson model.
It’s made from metal with a red and yellow plastic handle, which can be compressed for an automatic soil release, to fill in your holes quickly and effortlessly.
As there’s no long handle, you will need to bend or kneel down to use it. There is, however, a depth indicator on the side, up to 10cm. Whilst this isn’t as deep as some, it should be plenty for most flower bulbs.
The planter feels sturdy and high-quality and should withstand most soil types, except heavy clay. It comes with an impressive 10-year guarantee, so if you do have any problems with quality or breakages, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get it sorted.
If you want to greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to get your bulbs in the ground – whether they’re flowers or veggies – you should seriously consider adding this bulb planter to your garden tool collection.
- Sturdy, durable and rust-resistant.
- Quick-release handles to easily fill in holes.
- Depth indicator to allow you to set how deep your bulbs are going.
- 10-year guarantee.
- Good value.
- Hand-operated, meaning you have to bend or kneel to use it.
- Not suitable for use in hard clay soils.
How To Use A Bulb Planter
To allow for the variations within bulb planters, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use one. As a general rule, with a manual bulb planter, you place the device above the soil where you want the bulb to be, and press down hard, to core out a hole in the soil.
If you have a long-handled bulb planter, you will be able to do this from a standing position, by placing your foot on the footrest and applying pressure. Otherwise, you will need to bend or kneel down and push the device in with your hand, usually twisting it as you go.
Reasonable force is required to remove a core from the soil. If the ground is particularly hard, you may need to water and/or rake it first, to loosen the soil. Similarly, if you are planting in a lawn, you will likely need to lift up the turf first.
Most bulb planters have a depth scale on the side, so you can see how deep you are going. The ideal planting depth for a bulb is generally considered to be 2 – 2.5 x the diameter of the bulb. It should be deep enough that the plant is secured, but near enough to the surface that shoots can reach the light.
Place the bulb into the hole, with the pointy end facing upwards, and then refill it with the soil. Many bulb planters have a trigger to release the soil, allowing you to quickly fill in the hole (this will work best if the soil is dry and loose). Otherwise, the soil will be released when you go to core the next hole.
Bulb planters are generally fairly easy to use. They work best in loose or sandy soil but often struggle in clay soil. If you have this type of soil, you will likely need to add grit to it before you can plant your bulbs, to improve drainage.
The best time to plant bulbs is usually in late autumn and early winter, from October to December. This will mean your plants are ready to flower by the following spring. Plant daffodil, crocus and tulip bulbs at this time, and your garden will be filled with colourful blooms come March and April.
Although you can use the traditional spade method, if you’ve got a lot of bulbs to plant, we thoroughly recommend investing in a bulb planter, to make life easier for yourself. You’ll wonder what you ever did without one!
April is a freelance writer who specialises in writing about home and garden design and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.