Q&A about the best bulb planting tool for your garden.
Planting bulbs can be a laborious task at best, and having the right bulb planting tool can help in the process. But with a handful of different tools on the market, how do you pick the right tool for you? Well, it depends. Bulb planting can consists of different seasons, different bulbs and different soil types. Whether you are a spring bulb planter, or a fall bulb planter, whether you are a tulip bulb planter, or planting any broad variety of bulbs, one size may not fit all. Here is a quick overview of all the bulb planters, strengths and weaknesses, and when to use them.
Ah, the good ol’ dibbler. If you are interested in the history of the dibbler as a bulb planting tool, you can read an article here: Dibbler Bulb Planting Tool. Essentially this tool has been used for planting bulbs and seeds for centuries. The modern day dibble for bulbs is hand turned of a hardwood (maple is the best), and has a thick lower body for a larger hole for the bulb to drop. It has a handle, and measurement marcks so you can plant your bulbs at the right depth. The flat tips helps for soil contact for the bulb. Our handheld bulb planting tool, Dibbler, is made for loose soil, and provides a great way to plant both fall and spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocus and much more.
I guess I am a traditionalist in the garden, but taking a drill with this on the end of it…well, seems a bit excessive. Some folks swear by this tool for planting bulbs in the garden. I have never used one, but I would think it would get heavy during planting more than a handful of bulbs, especially in harder soil.
This metal bulb digging tool essentially takes a quick twist, and extracts a soil plug and leaves a hole for planting your bulb. It works well, but you have to shake out the soil typically, and it is hard to get into packed soil. It can be useful, as you can usually put the hative soil right back into the hole once the bulb is planted. Beware of these, they are usually made of cheap metal and bend easily. If you can find a good solid one, it will last you.
We’ve all used many different things to make holes in the ground for seeds or bulbs. I know I have. Nothing has been off limits: a stick, screwdriver, dowel, shovel handle, and yes, even a finger. But a dibber, also known as a dibbler or dibble, is a garden tool made for this very purpose. Its first recorded use was back in roman times, usually made from old tool handles, and its design has not really changed.
What Should I Look For When Buying A Modern Dibber/Dibbler?
Today, many of the dibbers on the market are made in China and have a metal tip, and are made of low quality wood in the form of a “T”. High quality dibbles have the following features:
Are Dibblers Just Used For Seed Planting/Starting?
There are two different types of dibblers, those for planting seeds and those for planting bulbs. Bulb dibbles are typically longer with a fat body and point to create a large hole. They have a flat point to create a firm contact point for the bottom of the bulb, and lines at one inch intervals for reference.
Seed dibbles on the other hand, are typically skinny and pointy, and create a small hole for starting seeds. Quality dibblers will have quarter inch marks, and then inch increments. These dibblers also have a flat tip for solid seed contact in the soil.
How Are Wood Dibbers Made?
All natural wood dibbers are made through the process of wood turning on a lathe. Here is a time-lapse video of a seed bidder being turned in our shop.
What Are Dibbers Made Of?
Dibbers are made of all different types or materials, including wood, metal and plastic. It is all a matter of preference which one you would like in the garden. I use a wood dibber garden tool for my outdoor bulb planting, and a nice small plastic one for inside seed planting. Here are the attributes of a quality dibber in the modern age, and one any gardener would appreciate:
Dibbers are made of a solid hardwood (maple or mahogany) and weather the elements quite well
A solid wood dibber handle for leverage in making deep holes or penetrating hard soil.
A pointed tip to keep going and going
Turned wood handle for aesthetics
Thick wood for a solid grip
Are There Different Types of Dibbers?
The Plastic Dibber
This small dibble is great for seed tray work, or working with small seeds. They are relatively cheap, and will last as long as you dont leave them in the sun. Call me a traditionalist though…I like my wood turned dibber 😉
Ah, the modern dibber. This dibber is a low cost option for those with hard soil or small hands. Its steel tip wont get worn down over time, and it provides a great set of uses out in the garden. Click the image for more info.
The wood turned dibber is popular for its aesthetics and durability. Typically made of hardwood (maple or mahogany) it is crafted to be an heirloom, and be passed down to generations of gardeners. We make our own and use these on our farm and in our garden. Click the image for more info.
I know we use ours on the farm constantly (I just used it for planting Ranunculus and Anemone today), and after a 1000 bulbs, i am thankful for this handy tool. Dibbers have a wide variety of uses. Here are all the uses for a dibber:
To make holes in soil for seed planting
A hole-maker in soil for bulb planting
You can break up potted plant roots as you plant them in the garden
For cleaning dirt from tubers
For leverage in propagation with large roots.
To aerate the soil around a plant
For creating deep water holes for plants in hot climates