Add some buzz to your gardening experience by getting a helping hand from... your cell phone! Once you start using some of the apps listed in our post, there'll be no way you can go back to your old gardening ways. Your smartphone will keep you updated about the right time to plant the seeds, help out with ideal garden outlines, identify unknown plants and diseases, explain which plants will thrive in your climate, and much more. Check out our list of the top gardening and plant apps and let us know what you think about them.
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Every gardener knows that planting seeds at the right time is crucial for success. The When to Plant app by Mother Earth News is the ultimate tool that helps you determine the ideal planting times for veggies, fruit, cover crops, herbs, common flowers, and more — specifically suited to your area. Planting dates are calculated using a database of almost 5,000 weather stations all over North America, which includes extensive data about average frost dates. All that users need to do is to insert ZIP code of their area and wait a second for the app to find out the nearest weather station — which is a really useful tool for the weather we're used to in Toronto, especially if you're a beginner in the gardening world.
The app can also advise you on when to plant cool-season crops if you live in a hot area or give you random tips about any plants that might be suitable for planting at any given time. Gardeners can also use the app to learn about the best soil types and sun requirements, sowing instructions, and how to harvest.
Fun fact: Wired magazine included When to Plant in its App Guide as a Top Pick among gardening apps.
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Landscaper's Companion – Plant and Gardening Reference Guide
Landscaper's Companion is a comprehensive plant encyclopedia that includes more than 26,000 entries. Users can search by both scientific and common name or use an alphabetized index that's subdivided into 17 categories such as vegetables, houseplants, cacti, and annuals (the only ones missing are tropicals and orchids). You can also look for plants by narrowing the search criteria by setting the desired colour, height, or preferred zone for the plant. The app can even find plants that are deer-resistant so that your garden persists even in areas full of wildlife.
Ana, a keen gardener, commented on the Landscaper's Companion:
"The search feature of the app is really well designed; it's dummy-proof, so that even I always find whatever I'm looking for."
Some critics point out that the app isn't very useful as a how-to source, and they're right, since Landscaper's Companion is generally designed as an encyclopedia, not a gardening guide. However, when it comes to finding a content-heavy app filled with substantial information, it's certainly one of the very best choices. If you decide that the basic version of the app isn't enough for your needs, you can also purchase the Pro Upgrade for $5.99.
Compatibility: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Garden Plan Pro by Growing Interactive is probably one of the most hyped apps in gardening at the moment. The app specializes in vegetables, fruits, and herbs and provides full growing information for over 140 different plants. Whatever the shape and size of your garden, the app will help you find a way how to make the most of the space that's available for you and turn a creation of your garden design outline into a fun and easy-to-do activity.
"It feels just like playing Farmville on Facebook, but it's a real thing and your actual garden,"
says Ana about the garden planning feature.
Just like the When to Plant app, Garden Plan Pro adapts to your local climate conditions and adjusts all the information so that it's valid specifically for your garden. One of the big advantages of this app is that it gives you hints about how to rotate crops and plan plant succession to achieve maximum harvests. Plus, the app includes a calendar that will remind you when to plant the seeds and advises you about which plants are suitable.
A major new update was released to Garden Plan Pro recently. Jeremy Dore, founding director from Growing Interactive comments:
Version 2 includes a complete iOS 7 redesign, a universal app with a new iPhone interface (previously it was just iPad) and a reduction in price to $7.99.
It's worth mentioning that Apple has featured this app as #1 Best New App in the Lifestyle category in the US for iPhone.
Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.2 or later. iPhone, iPad.
Ever wondered what plant you're looking at? And more importantly, have your plants ever been struck by a disease, though you've still not figured out what happened to them? The Garden Compass app might come in handy in these situations. Take a picture of the plant and send it over to a team of expert horticulturists to review your photo and prepare a professional response. If you have problems with diseases and pests, the advisors can also provide you with specific recommendations to resolve your garden troubles. Users are always kept updated about the progress of their picture in the queue. The professional advisory board is what makes this plant identifier app so special, as mostly, you can't be sure whether users of the app determined the name correctly.
Besides this professional help, the app includes more than 1,000 pictures that you can compare to the plant you're unable to identify. You can then share your pictures over social networks and get a bit of crowd-sourced knowledge.
Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.0 or later. iPhone, iPad, iPod touch.
Designing small lots has never been easier. The Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens app was developed by landscape designer Susan Morrison, who came with the idea to small garden owners. The specialized list she created includes about 100 plants that are suitable for small yards and balconies, as they will always remain at manageable size. The plants are divided into seven categories: trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, groundcovers, ornamental grasses, and a special bonus category. The app is easy to navigate and very informative — all plant descriptions feature alternative varieties, tips for planting and maintenance, and cultural requirements. Plus there's an unusual feature included: a pronunciation guide for botanical names!
Compatibility: Android (called "Plant Picks for Small Gardens"), iPhone, iPad, iPod touch.
Price: $ 2.99.
Are there any other plants and gardening apps you're happy with? Let us know in the comments.