20 Smartphone Apps for Plant Lovers
Not Sure What This Flower Is?
Fun Apps for Gardeners & Other Outdoor Folk
Now you can plan your garden, troubleshoot landscaping problems, and identify plants on the go. No shuffling through field guides, making handwritten lists or simply trying to remember what plants, tools or fertilizers you need. Just use your smartphone!
The 20 apps below, which range from free to under $20, are fun and useful tools for home gardeners, landscapers, and nature lovers alike. Check them out!
Garden Guide: FREE
Recent Gardening Apps, 2017
Botany Buddy $9.99
iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
With Botany Buddy, identifying plants is a snap. You can search by leaf type, seeds, flower color, bloom time, fall color, sun requirements, hardiness zone, shape, growth habits, and size. Professional landscapers and non-pros alike can use this program.
Botany Buddy contains information on more than 2,000 trees, shrubs, succulents, cacti and tropical plants. Entries include original color photos you can pinch and zoom. It also allows you to add and share images and comments with other users at no cost. Updates are free.
Flower Pedia (Version 2.0) $4.99
iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
As its name suggests, Flower Pedia is a flower encyclopedia app. It contains thousands of flower photos. They're arranged by family, genus, and user rating. Flower Pedia also provides basic flower information to help users ID flowers using the app's handy "identify" feature. The new 2.0 version has flower-sharing community capabilities as well as improved search functions.
Landscaper's Companion $4.99
iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android
The Landscaper's Companion app is a handy reference (with photos) for home gardeners and landscapers. It contains general information about more than 7,000 plants, providing both common and scientific names, plant culture and form.
As you plan your landscape, use Landscaper's Companion to find plants that grow well in your USDA Hardiness Zone. You can also search by plant size, color, light requirements and water needs. It allows you to save plant lists, personal notes, and your own photos as well. Periodic photo and information updates are free.
Master Gardener's Buddy $4.99
iPad iOS 3.2 or later
Using Master Gardener's Buddy, gardeners can map out their gardens, creating to-do lists, planning what they will plant, recording what they have already planted and targeting plants for removal.
Master Gardener's Buddy also allows master gardeners to share their garden plans with others. They can access and store lots of data, including photos, as they continually update their plantings.
Some users find MG Buddy complicated.
Whether you live in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, or the USA, Gardenate gives you the information you need to grow your own vegetable garden. Includes the low-down on the most commonly grown veggies where you live as well as a garden calendar of local planting times. You can take notes with Gardenate and track your plants' progress.
Leafsnap and Leafsnap UK: FREE
iPad, iPhone and (someday) Android
Leafsnap allows users to identify trees by taking a photo or "snap" of its leaves. Created by the Smithsonian in conjunction with the University of Maryland and Columbia University, Leafsnap functions like face-recognition software, but it's leaf recognition software.
Not only does the app supply the tree's name, but it also provides high-quality photos and information about the tree's bark, flowers, fruits and seeds.
And the "snaps" users take are shared too, so that scientists can add to their knowledge of the population growth and decline of trees in the US. Although Leafsnap's current database only includes the trees of the Northeastern United States, it will soon feature trees from the whole continental US.
Download Leafsnap to your iPhone or iPad for free. Leafsnap UK is also available.
Introducing Leafsnap for iPhones
Leafsnap for Android?
If you're like me, you've been waiting three years for the Leafsnap app for Androids. What's taking so long?
According to the official Leafsnap website FAQ web page, work on the project is being conducted (slowly) by unpaid volunteers: "We have one [an Android version] under development, but since the app is free and the work is being done by volunteers, we do not have a release date, nor a firm guess as to when this will be."
Flora Finder $2.99
iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch
Flora Finder is comparable to Leafsnap, only it's for New Zealanders.
Created by scientists at Otago University in Dunedin, the Flora Finder app acts as an "electric field guide." Through Flora Finder, users can send images of native New Zealand plants to the university's botany department for identification by a specialist there.
Flora of Virginia $19.99
Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (Requires iOS 8.0 or later)
Flora of Virginia is a reliable, comprehensive guide to 3,200 plant species native to or naturalized in the state of Virginia.
Produced by High County Apps, Flora of Virginia is based on the book by the same title and is the product of a collaborative effort between the Flora of Virginia Project and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation .
Although Flora of Virginia is the highest priced app on this list, Apple customers claim it's "worth every penny," calling it a "a phenomenally useful resource."
Plant info includes photos and illustrations, moisture and light requirements, and level of invasiveness or rarity.
Plants can be filtered by name, genus, family, or the user's location.
The app is easy to use, making it a good choice for middle school and high school students. It's also update-able and highly portable, as it does not require an Internet connection to run.
High Country offers other state and region-specific apps for droids and iPhones, although none are as comprehensive or expensive as Flora of Virginia. These include Flora of the Yellowstone Region, Flora of Texas: Fort Worth Prairie, and Flora of the Wasatch region of Utah. Each sells for $7.99.
Audubon Wildflowers $3.99
iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android
Audubon Wildflowers: A Field Guide to North American Wildflowers has up-to-date search features, so it's easy to explore its copious maps, botanical information and color photos. Super user-friendly, Wildflowers also allows you to add your own photo album, store your own lists of wildflower sightings and more.
Wildflower Apps From High Country Apps
Android, iPhone, iPad and Kindle Fire
High Country Apps offers four wildflower recognition apps that are getting rave reviews from users: Glacier Wildflowers for $4.99, Colorado Rocky Wildflowers for $9.99, Idaho Wildflowers for $7.99 and Washington Wildflowers for $7.99. Search for flowers by family, color, name (common and botanical), and more. Color photos, drawings, and fun facts included.
Apps for Cactus Lovers
Cactus Plant Encyclopedia 1.0 $1.99
iPad, iPhone4, iPhone 3G/3GS, and iPod Touch
Cactus Plant Encyclopedia provides profiles of 300 cacti. Profiles include a photo, the plant's common as well as scientific name, growing requirements, and more.
Cactus Passion $.99
iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
Cactus Passion not only contains information and photos of many cacti, but it also has email and integrated Facebook functions.
Apps About Fungi
Every mushroom app I have seen, including The Audubon Mushrooms Guide, is rated "Guidance Suggested." Because mushrooms may be poisonous, children should not use these apps for collecting or ingesting mushrooms without responsible adult supervision.
Wild Mushrooms of North America and Europe: FREE
This free app incorporates text and photos from two of Roger Phillips' published works: Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America and Mushrooms and Other Fungi of Great Britain and Europe. Additionally, the app includes photos from Phillips' website for a grand total of almost 2,500 photographs of more than 1,550 wild mushrooms and other fungi.
The Audubon Mushrooms Guide $3.99
The Audubon Mushrooms Guide, available through Amazon for $3.99, catalogs over 550 species of fungi and slime molds in North America.
Each entry provides color photos, up-to-date taxonomic information, species descriptions, and more. Use it to learn more about fungi or to identify specimens when you're on the go.
The app allows you to search its database in multiple ways, including by scientific name, cap shape, color, and habitat.
Fungitron provides information about 70 species of mushrooms. It also provides users with lots of helpful methods (about 150) for identifying mushrooms, including photos and links to mushrooms that look very similar.
On the downside, because Fungitron is free to upload, it isn't free of advertising.
On the upside, after uploading, Fungitron is completely functional offline.
More Apps for Nature Lovers
Trail maps, compasses, weather apps, survival information, nature lore.
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Jill Spencer