You’re not going to replace the shovel, the rake, or the garden hose with smartphone software. On the other hand, what these new gardening apps offer is a massive amount of gardening info at your fingertips—er, glove-tips. Put them to work to improve your gardening know-how and to get consistently better results.
With 15,000-plus pictures and information on more than 25,000 plants, this app is a virtual encyclopedia of gardening. Want the specifics on a plant’s sun exposure, water usage, growth rate, and bloom times? Comprehensive search tools make these facts easy to find. The app currently lacks information on tropicals and orchids, but we expect this to be remedied soon, as the developer periodically adds additional plants and images for free.
Price: $2.99 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and $4.99 for Android devices.
Grow Your Own
How do I know when my blueberries are going to be ripe? How can I keep aphids away from my roses? This handy app from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) provides essential advice for part-time farmers. Grow Your Own steps you through the growing process month-by-month, recommending the best times to plant, prune, weed, mulch, and harvest, depending on the crop. And if you need to buy seeds and supplies, the app’s “Buy Now” button links directly to the RHS Online Plant Shop. Hey, the app is free, and they’ve got to earn a living somehow.
Price: Free for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Bugs in the Garden
Blast those infernal bugs! If you need help ID’ing the creepy crawlies devouring your daffodils, Bugs in the Garden can help. With more than 40 photos and illustrations of beetles, moths, aphids, caterpillars, grubs, and other common bugs, this app helps you spot troublesome and beneficial insects alike. It also includes tips on how to attract helpful bugs (like ladybugs) and send the bad ones packing.
Price: Free for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch and Android devices.
If you’re a flower person, this app’s for you. There are three versions of FlowerPedia. The free “lite” version has 100 high-resolution flower photos and limited information on flowering plant families from around the globe. The iPhone edition is far more comprehensive: 2,800 flower images; a search tool for finding flowers by common name, Latin name, and country and state/province; and the ability to identify flowers by their anatomy. The $9.99 iPad version is the most beautiful of the trio, with larger, dazzling photos that turn your tablet into a coffee-table flower book.
Price: Free “lite” version; $4.99 for iPhone; $9.99 for iPad.
This visually appealing app is useful if you want our nearest celestial neighbor (i.e., the Moon) to guide your gardening practices. Lifeware Solutions’ Moon Gardening brings this ancient practice to modern times by offering time-tested growing tips, such as the best times to plant, prune, weed, and harvest crops based on the current Moon phase in your area. It’s a bit scant on details, though. For instance, Moon Gardening has too many links to outside sources on the topic, rather than providing the information itself. It’s fun to use, however, particularly if you’re curious about the Moon’s phases.
Price: $1.99 for iPad.
Garden Plan Pro
As gardening apps go, Growing Interactive’s Garden Plan Pro is a tad pricey, but its planting toolkit is much more comprehensive than most garden-variety guides. The app’s extensive design tools let you create a simple garden with single plants—or far more sophisticated projects with fruits and vegetables planted in multiple rows and/or squares. Garden Plan Pro has detailed growing information for more than 140 plants, and offers sage advice on how to rotate crops. The app takes a bit of practice to master, however, so be sure to watch the tutorial video before getting your hands dirty.
Price: $19.99 for iPad.