There are two different garden tools called a transplanter. One is for both bulbs and young plants, while another is a specialized tool for planting bulbs. The first type of transplanter is similar to a trowel, but it is specially designed for planting or transplanting. It is often found along with a trowel and a cultivator in garden hand-tool sets. Some models are called Bulb/Transplanter or Transplanting Trowel.
Longer than a trowel, the transplanter can hold a long-rooted transplant. Marked with a ruler to indicate planting depth, the graduated measurements help gardeners situate their bulbs at the appropriate depth. Narrower than a trowel, the transplanter can break just the amount of ground needed for the planting, and also work comfortably in a flowerpot. Some transplanters have an end that is somewhat squared to enable scooping soil from within the confines of a narrow hole, while others come to a point. In either case, the curve of the blade assists in slicing through the soil.
The second type of tool in this category is called a bulb transplanter or bulb planter, and it is strictly for planting bulbs. It has a canister-like shape and functions something like an apple corer in the first two of the five steps to using it:
1. Push the bulb transplanter to the depth that the bulb should be planted, using the gradations marked on the side or a piece of colored tape, measured to the proper length and affixed to the transplanter. This action cuts a cylindrical soil sample.
2. Lift the transplanter and the chunk of soil free of the ground, leaving a planting hole.
3. Prep the hole with any fertilizers or other special planting materials recommended for the particular bulb.
4. Place the bulb in the hole.
5. Place the chunk of soil back into the hole on top of the bulb, either by pushing it out of the transplanter from the top, or -- if the transplanter has a spring-loaded handle to release the soil chunk -- by activating the mechanism. Make sure the soil is firmly settled and water.