Despite mixed opinions, I’m a fan of bulb planters. Some would argue that rocking a trowel back and forth to create a wedge-shaped hole is enough. Or that digging a trench and planting bulbs together is the preferable route.
Well, I don’t agree.
Even as somebody who grows primarily in containers, I still love my bulb planter.
The reason is simple: it’s easier to use than a trowel and it’s good for digging holes for bedding plants too.
Anyhow, in this article I’m going to review my favourite products, along with offering some general buying advice. Let’s dive in…
The Short Version: Best Bulb Planters
|DeWit Bulb Planter||$$||10/10|
|Joseph Bentley Long-Handled Planter||$$$||9/10|
|Fiskars Bulb Transplanter||$||8/10|
|Radius Ergonomic Planter||$$$||8/10|
|Power Planter Auger||$$||10/10|
What is a Bulb Planter?
I’m probably justified in my assumption that the term “bulb planter” is fairly self-explanatory. But just to avoid confusion let’s quickly define it.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a planter as, “A machine or person that plants seeds, bulbs, etc.” So there you have it!
Generally speaking, bulb planters will be made with a rust-proof material. Steel and aluminium are both popular, as are other chrome or zinc-plated metals. The base of the planter is usually serrated (see the picture on the right), making it easier to dig and twist into the ground.
More often than not, bulb planters also have a compressible handle. Collected soil can be released by triggering the latch, making the job of refilling the bulb hole a tad easier.
Long-handled vs. Short-handled
Generally speaking, you have two options when it comes to bulb planters: long-handled and short-handled.
Short-handled versions are used kneeling down and will usually, as mentioned, come with a spring-release handle for releasing dirt.
Long-handled planters have exactly the same design with two additions: a longer handle and a foot-rest. If you’re dealing with hard-packed soil, they are much easier to push in. They’re also ideal if you don’t fancy bending down.
Oh, and I best mention drill attachments too. These are essentially oversized drill bits that you can use for drilling a hole into the ground with a battery-powered drill. They’re also sometimes called “planter augers” or “power planters”. Their main benefit is the speed with which they can be used.
Features to Look for in a Good Bulb Planter
- Weather-resistant – If a planter isn’t made from rust-free metal, like steel or aluminium, then make sure it has a weatherproof finish. You will find that many products are often plated with chrome or zinc to protect from rust.
- Ruler – A lot of planters now have rulers engraved on the side. The idea is that they allow you to measure the perfect planting depth. Personally, I think they’re a little surplus to requirement. That said, they can be useful if you want to follow the planting guidelines to the letter (or inch).
- Spring-loaded handle – This innovation, unlike the ruler, is a fantastic one. My advice is not to buy a short-handled model if it doesn’t have a compressible handle to open up the sides (except in certain cases, as I’ll explain below).
Best Bulb Planters: My Top Picks for 2017
***Full Disclosure – Where appropriate, I’ve linked product images to commercial sites and Amazon (see Amazon Disclosure). If you buy from these sites, I earn a small affiliate fee, which helps me keep Urban Turnip going.***
1. DeWit Bulb Planter
DeWit is a Dutch company and I’m not ashamed to say that I love their products. There’s something about gardening tools in the traditional design – thick welded joints and wooden handles – that makes me gravitate towards them.
The reason I’ve listed this planter first on my list is because its quality and sturdiness.. With bulb planters, I’ve found it quite difficult to find models that don’t bend or break after long use. This one should last a lifetime. If it doesn’t, just take advantage of the lifetime guarantee. It’s made from extra durable carbon steel and the digging edge is particularly sharp, making up for the lack of serration at the base.
It doesn’t have a spring-release handle but, in my opinion, that’s worth foregoing for the lastability.
2. Joseph Bentley Long-Handled Planter
Joseph Bentley is another company (US this time) that makes garden tools with a traditional feel to them. This planter is one of the best that I’ve come across and I’d recommend it to anybody looking for a long-handled model.
The head/planter (with a width of 2.4 in.) is made from stainless steel and is engraved with a measuring scale. The footrest is also very sturdy and perfect for use with harder, more compacted soils. The handle itself is made from oak.
This is an all-round high-quality piece. If you need to plant lots of bulbs quickly, then you can’t go far wrong.
3. Fiskars Bulb Transplanter
If you’re after a sturdy basic model then you won’t go far wrong with this transplanter from Finnish company Fiskars. My recommendation would be two get a two-pack and keep one stored away.
It’s 2.25 inches in diameter and has all the features you would expect. It’s made from steel, so is completely weatherproof, has a spring-loaded handle for releasing soil, and is engraved with a ruler for measuring the depth of your holes.
Bear in mind that this isn’t ideal for soils on the more impenetrable end of the spectrum. You’ll need a sturdier planter for that. That said, as far as things go (and considering the price) this is a good all-rounder.
4. Radius Ergonomic Long-Handled Planter
The stand-out feature of this long-handled planter is the ergonomic handle. It’s excellent for twisting and penetrating harder soils. There have been some complaints that the handle provides poor purchase when digging, but just remember that this planter works best when it’s twisted. It digs a slightly larger hole (3.5 in.) when compared to some other models on this list.
It’s made from carbon steel, has a serrated blade and includes a footrest for digging – although, again, a twisting action seems to the best way of getting this into toughsoils. It comes with a lifetime guarantee.
5. DeWit Crocus Planter
This sturdy little tool from DeWit is intended for smaller bulbs. I’ve included it because it’s beautifully made and is ideal for planting things like croci and daffodils. If you’re putting onions in the ground, however, then you’ll need something that can go a little deeper.
The head is 1.5 in. wide, 4 in deep and made from “boron steel” (a very hard type of steel) and the whole product is handmade. The FSC-approved ash handle is also remarkably lightweight. I know I keep banging on about tools made from wood and steel, but I could easily see any gardener falling in love with this planter!
6. Power Planter Auger
I usually keep these lists down to five entries but I thought it worth mentioning a “planter auger”. These attach to a drill and can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to dig lots of bulb holes. This is the original, large-sized Power Planter and it comes highly recommended.
It’s made from steel and comes with a hex (pointed) end. It will fit all drill types. Make sure you go with the bigger unit (this one is 3 in. wide) as smaller augers are useless when it comes to anything but the smallest bulbs. Personally, I enjoy planting bulbs manually. But if you’ve got a bigger garden to look after then something like this is ideal.
Let us Know Your Thoughts! Leave a Comment Below!
What are your thoughts? Have you tried any of the planters on this list? Do you have your own suggestions? Leave a comment below and let me know!