The 5 Best Free Plant Care Apps, According to Horticulturists

published Jan 18, 2024
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Woman gardener in orange overalls watering potted houseplant in greenhouse surrounded by hanging plants, using white watering can metal. Home gardening, love of plants and care. Small business.
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New experiences often come with a need to absorb knowledge, so when I had my first child, I hung on to my doctor’s every word, kept parenting books by my side, and chatted with friends about techniques they were trying to get their babies to sleep through the night. I have three children now, and while they’re grown and thriving in their adult lives, I can’t say that I’ve had the same success rate as a plant parent.

Sure, I’ve revived decades-old plants found at estate sales, but I’ve also had my fair share of new plants that have met their demise at my inexperienced hands. My human children were all born before the days of smartphones, but with modern technology I’m attempting to better care for my leaf-laden babies through plant care apps, many of which are free. From species identification to assessing your plant’s health, here are five free plant care apps — and three paid versions — to help your potted friends thrive.

5 Free Plant Care Apps to Add to Your Smartphone

PlantSnap

Part of building a plant collection is knowing which greens would best suit your space, and you may find the perfect fit while you’re out and about at a coffee shop or doctor’s office. Once you fall in love with how a plant looks — perhaps it’s the shape of the leaves or the unique coloring — identifying which species it is can be tricky unless you have an app like PlantSnap.

“Simply snap a photo of a plant, and PlantSnap uses advanced image recognition technology to identify the species,” says gardener and horticulturist Zahid Adnan. If you enjoy collecting unique and diverse species, this app can prove helpful, but PlantSnap’s usefulness doesn’t end there. “The app also provides valuable information on care tips and requirements for each identified plan,” adds Adnan.

Planta

Plant species differ in watering frequency, so tracking when and how much to hydrate your succulents seems daunting — especially if you have a house full of greens. An app like Planta helps put your mind at ease as you encourage your plants to thrive. “The free version is chock-full of features, and it’s got a really useful plant scanner built in, too,” says horticultural expert Sheila Crean

Although there are paid features, Crean suggests that the free version is more than adequate for the average gardener. In addition to watering reminders, Planta can recommend plants based on your environment and gardening experience. However, Crean also warns that the app sometimes misidentifies species. “Sometimes the plant ID feature can get the plant wrong, but if you’re just taking baby steps into gardening, it’s a good option,” she says.

From Seed to Spoon

While indoor houseplants look beautiful and can reduce stress levels, other plants, like herbs and vegetables, provide much-needed nutrients to humans. If your journey includes edible plants, From Seed to Spoon is ideal for curating a flourishing garden. Carrie Spoonemore co-created the app to help gardeners get the most out of their food-based planting efforts. “It is an all-in-one garden guide that offers personalized planting dates, companion planting guides, insightful blogs, video guides, recipes, and more, all in the convenience of an app,” she tells Apartment Therapy. 

You can also keep track of plants via a calendar that estimates sprouting and harvest dates to know when to start harvesting and cooking the fruits — and vegetables — of your labor. The app also helps identify pests while offering organic treatment solutions.

PictureThis

As a plant collector, avid gardener, and botanist, Ashley Nussman-Berry’s top recommendation is an app that simply needs a photo to identify and assess your plant’s health. “PictureThis is a great app for plant identification and detection of plant issues. Even though it’s not 100% correct, Nussman-Berry has found it to be the most accurate. “Even when it is not right, it can help the user narrow down other possibilities,” she adds. 

To use PictureThis, snap a picture of your plant. Then the app will identify the species and tell you what is wrong with your plant, if anything. If you have children or pets in your home, another perk is that the app will alert you to any safety issues surrounding the species. Upgrading to premium usage is optional, and the free version is suitable for most users.

GardenTags

Ever wish you had a green-thumbed bestie so you could ask them plant-based questions on a whim? Well, GardenTags fills the void without the obligation of having to treat someone to a cinnamon latte. If you thrive better by having a sense of community, this app can be the perfect addition to your smartphone. And, who knows? You may make a few new friends in the process.

Billed by Adnan as a “social platform for plant enthusiasts,” GardenTags allows users to seek advice and share gardening experiences. Other features include a plant identification tool and a journal for tracking how fast your monstera grows. However, the most significant user benefit is connecting with like-minded individuals. “This sense of community and the ability to document your gardening journey make GardenTags a valuable companion for plant enthusiasts,” adds Adnan.

3 Plant Apps Worth Paying For

FlowerChecker

With all the free plant-identifying apps available, paying for FlowerChecker may leave you scratching your head, although several of our experts mentioned that apps are only sometimes accurate. Available on both Andriod and iPhone, each plant ID costs 99 cents, but Juan Palacio, the CEO of Blooms by Box, advises it’s worth the cost. “The identification is done by professional botanists, making it highly accurate,” he says. 

Planta (Premium Version)

Free versions of paid apps offer fantastic features for plant care. However, according to Adnan, upgraded versions are noteworthy for advanced features such as disease diagnosis, pest control recommendations, and personalized care plans. “Investing in these apps may be worthwhile for serious gardeners seeking in-depth insights and a higher level of assistance in maintaining their green havens,” he suggests.

Blossom (Premium Version)

Palacio also recommends Blossom. Although there is a scaled-back free version, upgrading to access premium features puts even more information at your fingertips. “The free version is quite comprehensive, but the premium version offers additional features, such as plant disease identification and treatment options,” he says. As with many apps, testing it out for free and deciding to upgrade later is always a viable option.