How Does a Bulb Planter Work?

The Need for a Bulb Planter

It's easy to dream about a fabulous display of spring color from tulip, iris, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs planted the previous fall, but harder when it comes to doing the actual grunt work of planting the bulbs. Bulbs vary in size: some can be as small as the tip of the thumb, others nearly as large as a fist. Since bulbs generally need to be planted in a hole nearly three times as deep as the bulb is wide, digging a hole for each and every bulb can become a tedious, back-breaking job no matter how beautiful the day or fresh-smelling the soil. For instance, if a tulip bulb is 2 inches wide, the hole needs to be nearly 6 inches deep. Fortunately, bulb planters can help speed along the job of digging holes. Most bulb planters are designed to be used in prepared soil that has been enriched with compost and other organic matter.

Choosing the Right Bulb Planter

For a small bulb garden in an area of well-drained, prepared soil, many gardeners choose a short-handled bulb planter. Hand-held bulb planters have an arched handle (usually wooden) above a wide, metal, open-ended funnel with edges sharp enough to slice into the ground. When the planter is plunged into the soil, a cone of dirt catches in the bulb planter, leaving a hole deep enough to accommodate the bulb. Once the bulb is dropped into the hole, pointed side up, the cone of dirt in the planter is ejected when the next hole is made, and can then be used to cover the bulb waiting in the previous hole. For tougher soils, grassy areas in the lawn, or bigger bulb gardens, long-handled bulb planters are available. These planters are foot-powered rather than hand-powered and can exert more force when digging the holes.

Added Touches

Some bulb planters have serrated or scalloped edges and are made of more durable materials than the most common chrome-plated steel. Some long-handled bulb planters are equipped with release levers that eject the plug of soil over the hole to cover the bulb inside. The height of short-handled bulb planters can vary, though most are normally between 10 and 12 inches from cone edge to handle top. Handles, too, can be made of metal, wood or plastic. No matter what the quality or price, bulb planters can make the job of planting bulbs an easier one.

Keywords: long-handled bulb planters, short-handled bulb planters, planting bulbs

About this Author

Mary Osborne has been an educational quiz writer since 2001. She is the author and illustrator of two children's books and her short stories have periodically appeared in literary journals since 1986. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida.