Which bulb planters are best?

Having a yard full of colorful flowers adds plenty of curb appeal to your house. Planting perennial bulbs that bloom for several growing seasons can reduce the amount of upkeep for your garden, and a bulb planter can make planting even easier. 

Bulb planters are available in several different types, which determine just how easy they make your planting process. No matter the style, they dig holes in the soil that are the perfect depth for healthy bulb growth. The top planter from Power Planter is such a popular model because it’s easy to use and can power through most soil types with ease.

What to know before you buy a bulb planter

Handheld bulb planters

Soil release bulb planters usually have a grooved handle that provides a grip for your fingers. They remove soil to dig a hole for the bulbs and hold onto the soil that’s removed. Once you’ve set the bulb in the hole, you can release the soil to cover it. A soil-release bulb planter is compact and allows for easy storage, but it isn’t the best option for those with back or joint concerns, as usage requires kneeling or bending. 

Dibber bulb planter

Dibber bulb planters have a pointed design that makes a hole in the soil which you can then add bulbs to plant in fall or other seasons. Instead of grabbing dirt like a soil release planter, a dibber twists itself into the dirt to create a hole, so you must manually cover the bulb with soil after placing it in the ground.

Spade/knife bulb planters

Spade/knife bulb planters are similar to a traditional garden trowel, but they feature a narrower spade section. They usually have a cushioned handle that’s comfortable to hold, so you can use it to dig into the dirt with a twisting motion to create your hole. A spade or knife planter is typically curved as well, making it easy to remove excess soil from the hole.

Long-handled design

Some bulb planters feature longer handles, which make planting much easier if you have back or joint issues, because you don’t have to bend as much. A long-handled planter typically features a T-shaped handle on top and a spade or soil plunger on the bottom. To use a long-handled planter, place it over the area where you want your bulb and push down on the handle to insert the bulb to the correct depth. 

A long-handled planter with a plunger on the bottom holds onto the soil that’s removed, so it can easily be replaced once you’ve added bulbs to plant in spring. A model with a spade on the bottom fully removes the soil, requiring you to manually cover the bulb.

Manual vs. powered

Many bulb planters are manual, so they require a good deal of hands-on effort and strength. If you aren’t particularly strong or have health concerns, it can be difficult to drive the planter into the ground and then lift out the soil.

A powered bulb planter attaches to a drill and uses the drill’s power to drive the planter into the soil. It usually works extremely well in all types of soil, too, so your holes are always deep enough.

What to look for in a quality bulb planter

Bulb planter ruler

To make planting even easier, you can find some bulb planters that feature a ruler on the section that digs into the soil. This makes it much easier to know precisely how deep the hole you’ve created is. The depth of the whole can be very important, depending on what sort of bulb you’re planting, and this takes all of the guesswork out of how deep bulbs to plant in summer should be. In most cases, the ruler features measurements in inch increments rather than centimeters.

Bulb planter footrest

Long-handled bulb planters often feature a footrest you can step on, so you can use your body weight to drive the tool into the ground easier. As a result, you won’t need as much upper body strength to push on the planter, making it less labor-intensive and easier for most people to use.

Quick-release on the bulb planter

Some soil-release bulb planters offer a quick-release feature when it’s time to cover the bulb with the removed soil. You only have to press a button or pull a lever to release the dirt, so you can finish your planting much more quickly. If you’re planting large quantities of bulbs, this can be a convenient feature.

Multi-tool bulb planters

You can find some bulb planters that can perform multiple tasks in your yard or garden. These models are usually the best value because you can plant bulbs, pull weeds and sample soil with a single tool.

How much you can expect to spend on a bulb planter

Basic handheld planters usually range from $5-$10, but you’ll likely spend between $10-$20 for a durable handheld or long-handled planter with special features like a quick-release button. For the highest-end, most durable bulb planters, you’ll probably pay $20 or more.

Bulb planter FAQ

How deep should I plant a bulb?

A. For most bulbs, aim to plant them at a depth that’s two to three times the bulb’s diameter. For example, if your bulbs are 3 inches wide, you should plant them 6 to 9 inches deep. Make sure not to plant the bulbs too deep, because they may suffocate in the soil and begin to rot.

What type of bulb planter works best for hard soil?

A. If you’re planting in extremely hard-packed soil, it often helps to use more than one type of bulb planter. For example, you can start with a dibber-style planter to help break up the compacted soil and then switch to a soil-release or spade-style planter to actually dig the holes.

What’s the best bulb planter to buy?

Top bulb planter

Power Planter 3”x7” Bulb and Bedding Plant Auger

Power Planter 3”x7” Bulb and Bedding Plant Auger

What you need to know: This is a truly effortless, efficient tool for planting bulbs. 

What you’ll love: This bulb planter is extremely easy to use and can attach to most drills. You’ll be able to easily drive 6 to 10 inches into the soil, though some users have gotten as deep as 18 inches.

What you should consider: This doesn’t work as well in hard, clay-like soil.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Top bulb planter for the money

Edwards Tools Bulb Planter with Automatic Soil Release

Edwards Tools Bulb Planter with Automatic Soil Release

What you need to know: This outstanding manual bulb planter works especially well for lily, daffodil and dahlia bulbs. 

What you’ll love: This bulb planter holds onto soil during planting. Its metal construction is extremely sturdy, and the user-friendly operation only requires inserting it into the soil and twisting. 

What you should consider: More effort is required when using this in hard, rocky soil. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Yard Butler Long Handled Planting Tool

Yard Butler Long Handled Planting Tool

What you need to know: This is an excellent bulb planter that doesn’t require kneeling or bending.

What you’ll love: This model doesn’t require any bending, and the footrest allows you to use your body weight to drive the bulb planter into the ground. A cushioned handle makes it comfortable to use too.

What you should consider: For best results, it requires wetting the soil first. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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