Joseph Bentley is a British company that makes a range of traditional garden tools using primarily hardwoods and stainless steel. Their tools have been available in the UK for over 100 years, but are only now coming to America.
We previously reviewed the ProPlugger bulb planter, which we found we useful when planting small to mid-sized bulbs. However, we needed something a little larger for big daffodil bulbs, and the long-handled bulb planter from Joseph Bentley did the trick.
Personally, when I have ample space to work with, I prefer to remove a large patch of soil with a sharp spade, place the bulbs, and then settle them in with my Lesche digging tool before simply pushing the soil back over the bulbs.
But if you’re working in tight spaces where it’s not feasible to dig out the soil, a bulb planter is a necessity. There are all kinds of bulb planting tools available, but the cylindrical planter (with either a short or a long handle) is the most common.
This long-handled model from Joseph Bentley is a pleasure to work with.
Lightweight But Heavy Duty
Weighing in at less than 5 lbs, it’s light enough to handle with ease over an extended period of time (and when you have over 500 bulbs to plant, it does take a long time!).
Comfortable Wood Handle
The shaft and T-handle are made of solid ash that has been FSC-certified, meaning that it’s harvested in a sustainable manner (see the Forest Stewardship Council for details).
The handle is comfortable to grip and lets you easily twist the planter after driving it into the soil; this lets you pull out an intact plug of soil so that you can just drop a bulb into the hole. There are other handle designs out there, including circular or bent grips, but the T-handle gives you the best leverage and the most comfortable position for twisting the planter.
Stainless Steel Planting Head
What really sets this bulb planter apart is the design of the planting head. First, it’s made of stainless steel – most planter heads are chrome-plated or powder-coated steel, neither of which will hold up quite as well as stainless. This one is heavy duty without being heavy.
Integrated Depth Indicator
It also has depth markings etched on the side so you can see how deeply you’re planting. The markings go to 4” but you can drive the planter 6” into the ground. This is important for many larger bulbs, like daffodils, which need to be planted 6” deep.
The planting head has tread-edged wings similar to what you might find on a shovel or spade. These “wings” are large and comfortable to step on without damaging your shoes, allowing you to put your full weight on the planter to drive the head into the ground.
A Few Things To Note
The soil should be moist when using the planter. This makes it easier to drive the planter into the soil and allows you to pull out an intact plug. In dry soil, the plug will fall apart, usually ending up right back in the hole you were trying to make.
Keep the cutting edge sharp. The tool comes with a relatively sharp edge, making it easy to drive into the soil and cut through small roots that might be in the way. Check the edge occasionally for sharpness and, if necessary, use a mill file to sharpen it up.
For complete information on planting and growing bulbs, see our Resource page.
We give the Joseph Bentley long-handled bulb planter a 5-shovel rating. It’s well-designed, light enough for extended use, comfortable to hold, and made of quality materials. It just feels good!
Where To Buy It
Joseph Bentley tools are available from Amazon, the Home Depot, and Williams Sonoma.