Want to identify a plant? Need some advice or just want to connect with other gardeners? Hannah Stephenson checks out four free apps to help you.
Thanks to the advent of mobile phones and other digital devices, we need never come inside again (weather permitting) to investigate the identity of a plant or consult our gardening calendar – there’s now a plethora of apps to do it for us.
These days we are just a green-fingered tap away from being able to identify plants, connect with a wider gardening community, find out how to tackle plant disease and pest control, and organise our gardening calendar.
Here are four of the best apps to save you time and answer those gardening conundrums…
1. SmartPlant (Android, IOS, smartplantapp.com)
This app used to be known as PlantSnapp but is among the best of the bunch for plant identification and advice.
You take a picture of your plant for identification, or scan the barcode of a plant (partnered with various garden centres and nurseries) you’ve bought to give you monthly care information, identifying your plant’s maintenance needs, possible pests and diseases and searching for plants to add to your collection. It also has a digital care calendar.
It’s also now linked to Alexa, who can give you care advice for your plants, or describe a specific plant. Although the app is free, you can upgrade by paying for membership which gives you unlimited chat access to horticultural experts, as well as plant care advice and notifications.
2. Garden Tags (Android, IOS, gardentags.com)
This site is a great way to connect with other gardeners as it’s community-based, so fellow green-fingered enthusiasts can share their knowledge with you.
The community of more than 100,000 gardeners not only helps identify plants, but offers gardening advice, tips and ways to tackle tasks, as well as suggesting how to deal with pests.
You can share your successes and failures with a captive audience, who’ll be quick to encourage, sympathise and help. Unlike other apps, when you take a picture of your plant it will ask you to share it with the community or with friends on Facebook and Twitter for identification or advice. You can tag a question with the picture and then just wait for the community’s response.
3. RHS Grow Your Own (Android, IOS, rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/app)
From the world’s foremost horticultural charity comes this helpful app, which does what it says on the tin.
It offers easy-to-access advice about all manner of edibles, in alphabetical order, month-by-month growing, planting and harvesting guides, plus information about common problems, along with help in choosing varieties depending on space, time you have to tend your crops and your experience. It also offers reminders of what to do when.
4. Garden Answers (Android, IOS, gardenanswers.com)
This is a really easy-to-use plant identifier, that gives you an instant answer from its 20,000-plant database.
Just take a picture of the plant, or load it from an existing image on your phone, and it will come back with an answer in seconds. I found it wasn’t always completely accurate, but most of the time it got it right. And it’s quick, so you’re not waiting around in your garden for a response.
For £1.99 you can upgrade to ask a horticulturist for advice. It also identifies pests and has a detailed Q&A section covering a wealth of common gardening problems.