By Mary-Jane Pilgrim, Master Gardener
Gardening is supposed to be natural, right? Many who enjoy the outdoors and gardening downplay screens and technology and also tend to encourage others to put down the devices and experience what’s in front of them. But what if you don’t know anything about what IS in front of you? Your smart phone or tablet can be quite the gardening companion.
Here’s a selection of apps that can be found in the App Store that will help you know when/where/what to plant, and sometimes more importantly, how to find out what’s already growing in your yard or someone else’s that you admire.
LeafSnap: An Electronic Field Guide — Free (iPhone only)
How many times have you been in a public park or garden and fell in love with the trees, but with no one to ask what they are? Using visual recognition software, Leafsnap can identify trees from a photo of their leaves alone. I can’t tell you how many times I could have used this!
myGardenAnswers Plant Identifier — Free (iPhone/Android)
With Garden Answers Plant Identifier, you can take a picture of a plant that you want to identify and presto — you’ll get its name and all of the information about it. It’s like having an encyclopedia in your pocket. This is easily one of the best free gardening apps in existence, namely because it can automatically recognize more than 20,000 plants. This app also identifies pests and has a robust Q&A section that covers more than 200,000 of the most common gardening queries.
GrowIt!: Garden Socially — Free (iPhone/Android)
GrowIt allows you to join an enthusiastic community of gardeners, helping you to find inspiration, gather information, and share your own gardens with the world. This app is good if you want to find out what plants will grow well in your local area. As you find plants you love in their extensive database, you can organize them into projects to help you design your own green masterpiece.
BeeSmart Pollinator Gardener — Free (iPhone/Android)
Want to grow a beautiful garden that also helps the environment? BeeSmart is an app created by Pollinator Partners that helps you choose the best plants for bees that can thrive in your specific location. Win-win.
Gardenate — $1.39 (iPhone/Android)
If you’re looking for a simple calendar for planting garden vegetables that comes with an assortment of useful hints and tips, then you should take a look at this app. Gardenate will be your best companion when it comes to keeping your garden in the best condition. There is information about over 90 plants and herbs, and a calendar to know when it’s the best time for these plants to grow.