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Gardeners'World Magazine Bulb planter review

Best bulb planters to buy in 2021

Planting bulbs this autumn? Browse our review of the best hand held and long handled bulb planters.

Adding cheery bulbs to your plantings will help to herald the spring or bring added interest to summer borders but whether you’re just planting a few to brighten up a bed or planning a carpet of colour across a lawn, a bulb planter is a handy bit of kit.
Available as either handheld or long handled planters,  which saves you bending down, a bulb planter has a tapered hollow cone that easily removes a core of soil to create a hole for your bulb. Once it’s planted, this core is then replaced back over the bulb, with just the squeeze of a button or when you plant the next bulb, depending on the design of the planter. We explain how to use a bulb planter in our short, handy guide below.

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A bulb planter saves you disturbing any more soil than you need to, so they’re great when planting amongst other plants or in turf, plus they take the guesswork out of getting the depth right and help make the job much quicker – many planters include measurements along the side to help you plant each type of bulb at the right depth. If  you need more information on this, we’ve put together a guide to bulb planting depths.

For more help planting see our review of the best border forks. and if you need to get beds and borders ready for new additions take a look at our guides to the best garden hoes and the best garden spades.

If you’re looking for spring garden design inspiration, we’ve also got advice on what to plant with spring bulbs to help you choose complimentary flowers to complete your display and for further inspiration, see our guide how to plant bulbs in lawns for more information.

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Best bulb planters at a glance

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What are the different types of bulb planter?

There are two types of planter – hand held and long handled bulb planters.

The small hand held bulb planter requires you to bend down or plant on your knees but for planting a few bulbs in beds and borders this simple tool is ideal.
If working on your knees is difficult or you’ve a lot of planting to do, particularly in lawns, then a long-handled planter will help you finish the job without straining your back.


How to choose the best bulb planter?

Before you buy think about the following:

What are they like?

Most bulb planters are made from stainless steel or carbon or boron steel, often with a coating to prevent corrosion and rust. This can also help stop soil sticking so it falls easily back into the hole. Metal is strong and long lasting and carbon steel planters can be sharpened to help keep the base sliding cleanly into the ground. If you have larger hands check the width of the handle as these vary and if your soil is sticky or particularly crumbly look for a hand held bulb planter with trigger release so that the core stays put in the planter until released.

What are you planting?

Bulb planters come in a range of sizes and many have been designed for particular bulbs. Most bulbs are planted between two and three times their depth so bear this in mind and choose a planter that will help you gauge the depth correctly.

Where are you planting?

The type of ground you’re planting in can dictate the type of planter you need. If you have difficult or stony soil, a planter with a serrated base will help it enter the soil more easily and wide foot treads on a long handled planter will help you apply force if needed to ease the planter into the ground.

How to use a bulb planter

If soil is compacted or particularly hard and dry it may help to water the area the night before to loosen the ground. If you’re using a hand held bulb planter, place it over your chosen spot and push down, twisting and rocking as you go until you reach the right depth. Remove the soil, drop in the bulb with its pointed tip up, and then replace the soil with the trigger release and firm down.

Long handled planters are pushed into the ground with the foot and the soil core is either tapped out or it pops out when you make the next hole.

Browse our review of the best bulb planters below.


Five of the best bulb planters

Gardena Bulb Planter

Our rating: 4.8 out of 5

Gardena bulb planter review BBC Gardeners' World magazine

Gardena bulb planter review BBC Gardeners’ World magazine

Pros

  • Comfortable and light
  • Easy, smooth release trigger
  • Long, serrated head
  • Good for sustained use

Well designed and easy to use, this strong, sturdy hand planter has a coating on the head to prevent soil sticking and reduce corrosion and a wide comfortable handle that suits both smaller and larger hands. Unlike most other hand held planters the head is opened with a flick of a finger so it’s easy to drop the core back over the bulb. It also has a serrated end, depth markings to 15cm and is ideal for small scale plantings.

Read the full Gardena bulb planter review

Buy the Gardena bulb planter from tooled-up.com


Wolf Garten Bulb Planter with Fixed Handle

Our rating: 4 out of 5

Wolf Garten bulb planter review BBC Gardeners' World magazine
Wolf Garten bulb planter review BBC Gardeners’ World magazine

Pros

  • Light and simple
  • Sturdy and substantial
  • Easy trigger handle

Cons

  • Only two depth markings

With a stainless steel head and plastic trigger handle this hand held planter is similar in design to many others but feels particularly robust and the trigger handle opens the head smoothly and easily. It has a serrated end so it slides into the soil and just two depth markings up to 10cm on the side.

Buy the Wolf Garten bulb planter with fixed handle from Primrose


B & Q Bulb planter

Our rating: 4 out of 5

B & Q bulb planter review BBC Gardeners' World magazine
B & Q bulb planter review BBC Gardeners’ World magazine

Pros

  • Light and comfortable
  • Clear depth markings
  • Great value

Cons

  • Stiff trigger
  • Feels a little flimsy

A simple hand held bulb planter with a stainless steel head that has a serrated end and depth markings on the side up to 10cm. The plastic handle has a slight grip detail and a sprung trigger releases the soil core but this is a little stiff top open. The cheapest planter in our test this is great for planting in beds and borders.

Buy the B & Q bulb planter from B & Q


Kent & Stowe Long Handled Bulb Planter

Our rating: 4.8 out of 5

Kent and Stowe long handled bulb planter review BBC Gardeners' World magazine
Kent and Stowe long handled bulb planter review BBC Gardeners’ World magazine

Pros

  • Comfortable shaped handle
  • Wide foot treads
  • Helpful features including serrated base
  • Strong and robust

Traditionally styled and well-made this stainless steel and FSC ash planter is strong and sturdy with lots of extra design features. These include a serrated base to help it penetrate the ground, depth markings for accurate planting and wide foot treads to make it easier to apply pressure when needed. It’s comfortable but sturdy and just the thing for naturalising bulbs in lawns .

Read the full Kent and Stowe long handled bulb planter review

Buy the Kent and Stowe long handled bulb planter from Waitrose Garden


Fiskars Xact Standing Planter

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

Fiskars Xact standing planter review BBC Gardeners' World magazine
Fiskars Xact standing planter review BBC Gardeners’ World magazine

Pros

  • No bending or kneeling needed
  • Light and comfortable on the back
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No depth markings

This well-designed tool is easy to use and does the hard work for you, helping you plant without ever having to bend or kneel down. Great for anyone with back trouble or for naturalising and repetitive planting it completes the job in three easy steps. Made from aluminium and fibre composite it’s light, if a little unwieldy, and just lacks depth markings so is best for larger bulbs like daffodils and tulips rather than crocus or scilla.

Read the full Fiskars Xact standing planter review

Buy the Fiskars Xact standing planter from the Finnish Design Shop


How we tested bulb planters

To see which style of planter works best we tested a range of both long handled and handheld bulb planters in beds and borders and also on lawns.
When using each planter we assessed its design, looking at the materials the planter was made of, its strength and any features such as depth markings, serrated base or trigger handle.
Comfort was then judged, focussing on how it felt in the hand, it’s weight and handle and whether it had a comfortable grip and was best for small scale or repetitive planting.
The performance of each bulb planter was then reviewed, looking at how easy the planter was to use and whether it made planting bulbs easier.
Finally, its value for money was assessed, considering all of the above plus quality, RRP and warranty.

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This review was last updated in September 2021. We apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.