For those gardeners who have smart mobile devices, there’s a massive amount of information now available to you ‘on the go’. This can be particularly helpful when trying to identify plants, pests or weeds.
Gardening apps are getting better all the time, supplanting manuals and textbooks as the way people dig for information. Many university Extension services are developing the digital aids to extend outreach to clients.
“Extension apps provide reliable, research-based information,” said Christopher Enroth, an Extension educator with the University of Illinois, who evaluates gardening apps for their relevancy, customization and ease of use. “I’ve examined a few apps developed by various companies that are simply another gateway to their products.
Purdue University Extension specialists, for example, have created a series of diagnostic apps for gardeners that provide solutions to dozens of problems for hundreds of plants. This low-cost Plant Doctor app suite focuses on perennial and annual flowers, tomatoes, turf grass and trees.
A new app from Toca Boca called “Toca Lab: Plants” aims to plant seeds of interest in gardening for children. It features a digital botanical laboratory that helps kids discover scores of plants with differing personalities. It also enables them to create new species.
PlantSnap is a recent entry in the expanding field of apps intended to identify unknown plants and flowers. (See also Plantifier, NatureGate, Leafsnap, Like That Garden, PlantNet, ID Weeds.) It instantly identifies plants and weeds from a photo, and along the way is producing what its creators claim is the world’s largest plant database.
“It works well for gardeners and academics and anyone,” said Eric Ralls, chief executive officer of PlantSnap. “We want anyone on the planet to be able to recognize any plant on the planet. So far, we have 315,000 in our database.”
Other gardening-related apps worth considering (all those listed below are free):
• For landscaping: iScape, Rain Harvest.
• For diagnosis: Garden Compass, Plant Health, My Garden Answers.
• For plant guides: GKH Gardening Companion, GardenMinder, GrowIt!
• For naturalists: Audubon Bird Guide app, Insect Encyclopedia, Bee Smart Pollinator Gardener.
Here are a few links to applications to get you started. Do your research to find the best and least expensive options. Most apps have been tested and reviewed or rated by other gardeners so that’s a good place to start.
- Dirr’s Tree and Shrub Finder – stuffed with information and easy to use. With 9,400 plants and 7,600 photos, this is the most thorough garden app to be introduced in the smartphone world so far.
- Reviews by Apps Gone Free – Review of the following apps: Garden Plan Pro, Garden Compass Plant & Disease Identifier, Garden Tracker Bumper Crop, Garden Minder by Gardener’s Supply Co, Veronica’s Garden Tracker, iGarden USA Gardening Helper, Garden Time Planner by Burpee
- Garden Answers Plant ID – image recognition technology can instantly identify over 20,000 plants. And if you’re concerned about a plant disease or insect infestation, you can use the keyword search feature within Garden Answers. It contains answers to over 200,000 commonly asked plant questions.
- Gardening KnowHow – review of 5 top IPAD apps – Landscapers Companion, Vegetable Garden Guide, Essential Garden Guide, Garden guide HD!, A to Z flower free
- Garden Plants Growing Guide – for Androids – provides gardening information on how to grow and care for 75 of the most popular garden flowers, herbs, and vegetables. It is designed with simplicity in mind, with information provided on each genus including common names, distribution, growing region, when and how to sow, and plant care.
- Mother Earth News – Android or Apple – some “wiser living apps for smartphones and tablets” eg Grow planner. When to Plant. Tomato Chooser.
- Garden Tracker- Bumper Crop – this app lets you size and plan your garden plot, plant your vegetables in up to 50×50 squares, and then track their progress.
- Focus on plant – an educational app that can help users to learn the basic knowledge of Plant Science in an easy way. The content of the app covers the five basic areas of Plant Science, including the plant parts, the plant cell, the plant physiology, the life cycle of plants and the plant evolution. Designed with the beautiful interactive illustrations and charts, the app makes the learning touchable and fun.
- iNaturalist – is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world. Help create a living record to allow experts to monitor changes in biodiversity, and assist everyone in learning more about nature.
- Mike’s Backyard Nursery – 17 Must Have Garden Apps – Mike McGroarty says he’s passionate about plants, soil and everything that has to do with gardening. Here’s his informed opinion about 17 of the apps.
- Plant quiz – Plant Quiz is a fun game that helps you learn 150 plants from gardens around the world. It won’t teach you how to garden, but it’ll keep you entertained while your plants grow!
- Leafsnap – Apple and Android – Leafsnap is the first in a series of electronic field guides being developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.
- My Garden Containers – Courtesy of Garden Making magazine, this app helps you create stunning plant combinations for beautiful containers by giving you the confidence to mix and match plants using design techniques practiced by professionals. You can photograph and document your creations to easily share them with friends as well as other gardeners on the new companion public website, mygardencontainers.com.