My petunias are alive because of this $20 iOS app

My petunias are alive because of this $15 iOS app (via StackCommerce)

Without constant watering reminders, health guides, and curated tips from Plantum, my little apartment garden would have wilted like it does every year. Initially, this gardening app is a little clunky, but it’s certainly worth the $19.99 for a lifetime subscription.

As much as I love plants, I am not a gardener. There are multiple pots of desiccated succulents that can vouch for that. Still, I’ve always wanted a tiny, lush garden for my apartment, and this year I was determined to get help to make that happen. I’ve sought help from professional gardeners in years past, opted for “easier” plants, and just tried raising cacti. These left me with a dead Money Tree, a rotten spider plant, and a dehydrated cactus.

This year, I opted for a lifetime subscription to Plantum. It’s an iOS app that identifies your plants and tells you about them. It’s $19.99, and this is the first time my spring crop has made it to summer.

What does Plantum do?

Based on a database of over 14,000 plants, Plantum can identify, diagnose, and give you tips to help keep your plants alive. The plant identification feature had more use than I expected considering I only buy plants that are clearly labeled. What I’d thought was a Pothos was actually a Peace Lily. Pothos are very toxic to pets and humans, but Peace Lilies might give cats intense stomach aches. It only took Plantum a single picture to check that, and it stood up to my own research.

The features that really shined for me were the watering and turning reminders. Initially, these are a pain to set up. You have to enter each plant individually, mark it as indoors or outdoors, and you can even measure the pot for more precise watering notes. You even have to activate each notification. If you have a lot of plants, it’s a chore, but once it’s done, it’s done. I get weekly reminders for some plants and daily ones for others.

Plantum even told me when to turn my plants, too. Sunlight is apparently a priority for many plants, explaining the failure of my office crops. If I’d had this app while trying to grow a walnut tree in a windowless office, I might have learned two things: 1) that won’t work and 2) exactly what malady my treatment was causing.

The Plant Doctor activates when you identify a plant. Plantum also gives you a diagnosis of its health, whether the AI has deemed the plant to be healthy, under-watered, or suffering from a specific illness. If a disease is detected, Plantum gives you a course of action. Granted, the diagnosis is not always 100% correct, but it goes a long way toward telling you something is wrong and helping you research more. In the case of my Peace Lily, it did not have root rot. It’s just kind of ugly.

What can you learn about plants from this app?

At the bottom of the app, there’s a taskbar that has your home page, diagnosis button, picture shutter, your registered plants, and an explore tab. That final tab is a world of its own, and it’s great for people who just genuinely want to expose themselves to everything to do with nature.

The Explore page has an updated feed of images, videos, articles, popular plants of the day, care guides, plant inspo, common mistakes, and just a whole lot more. I used it to see gardens I could never hope to emulate so I felt a little better about the two struggling cacti I keep on my desk. They’re in cat-shaped pots, and they cannot hope to match the flourishing hydroponics setups and lush gardens showcased on this app.

There are even tips just for enjoying nature. Picking wild mushrooms sounds a lot more fun after reading a detailed guide that made it seem more like a pleasant hobby than a fungal game of dice with lives on the line.

Is Plantum worth $20

Yes, if you like plants, gardening, or even hiking and have an iOS 13 or later device. The care reminders make it pretty simple to take care of most plants, even if it’s a hassle to set up. The plant doctor makes it a lot easier to determine if a plant is a lost cause due to illness or if it just needs direct sunlight for the first time in its life.

Even if you just like enjoying nature, you can use Plantum to learn more about the world around you. I learned the names of so many trees and bushes on hiking trails that I’ve lived around for more than 20 years. I’d never heard the name “Scrub Oak” or “Lambs Ear” in my life, but apparently, I’ve been surrounded by them.

If you are a plant person, a hobby gardener, or just want to keep a few plants healthy, you may want to consider getting a lifetime subscription to Plantum while it’s still $19.99 (reg. $59).

Prices subject to change.