Free apps for plants’ freaks

I’m both a plants’ freak (according to my colleagues) and a gadget geek according to myself. So I always happy to find some new fancy app I can download to my iPhone. Some of them get opened just a few times after install and won’t survive my next urge to clean up the screen. Others are there to stay and to be used. Here I’d love to share some plant related apps, which I do use from time to time.

Remember, my passion is tropical plants, which explains two palm related apps out of six I included here. I borrowed the description part for each app from the App Store, to let the creators themselves show what those are good for. I complete it with my own review or better to say impressions from using the apps.

Where available I give a download link to Google Play as well.

Please feel free to use the comments section below to share your own plant related app findings.


PlantNet app screen print

PlantNet app logoApp Store description: Pl@ntNet is an image sharing and retrieval application for the identification of plants. It is developed by scientists from four French research organisations (Cirad, INRA, Inria and IRD), and the Tela Botanica network, with the financial support of Agropolis fondation.

Among other features, this free app helps identifying plant species from photographs, through a visual recognition software. Plant species that are well enough illustrated in the botanical reference database can be easily recognized.

This app works on more than 3700 species of wild flora of the French territory, the species list is available through the application. The number of species and the number of images used by the application evolve with contributions of end users to the project.

It doesn’t allow the identification of ornamental plants. It works even better than the pictures submitted are focused on one organ. Pictures of tree leaves on uniform background provide the most relevant results.

If you correctly identify a species, you can participate to the project by submitting your observation with the “contribution” button. These contributions subject to a moderation process will be validated collaboratively.

My PlantNet review

The idea is great! You see a plant you want to know what it is so you just reach to your phone, snap a photo of flower or leaf or fruit or even of bark, if it’s a prominent feature of the plant, and the app runs a search for you. You can also add multiple photos to the same search and pick photos from your camera roll as well. The result is a range of visually similar plants to choose the one you think you got there. Pick a match and you can browse more photos for a better identification.

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The down side of the app is that it is limited to the flora of French territories. Fortunately for us, France occupies a small piece of South America – French Guyana, and when starting the app first time you can choose plant database of continental France or South American. As biggest part of tropical plants growing indoors comes from Caribbean, Central and South America, the chances are good you will find your match.

The good thing is that the app is open to public contribution and has a potential to develop into an extensive reference and identification tool. I just wish the people behind it will also add the plants of French pacific territories or even better get rid of those French limits all together and go worldwide. By the way, as for now, I can’t find a way to switch between continental and South American databases. The choice where presented only at first start. So if anyone figure out how to do so, please comment on this post below.

Score: 4palms

Download PlantNet on App Store

Download PlantNet on Google Play




Garden Answers Plant Identification

Garden Answers app screen print

Gardens Answers app logo

App Store description: Garden Answers is the revolutionary plant identification app that instantly identifies over 20,000 plants and gives you accurate and detailed information about it.

Have you ever wanted to easily identify a flower or plant? Now you can with my Garden Answers Plant Identification app. Just snap a picture, tap submit and instantly you will get the accurate identity of the plant and detailed information about it by garden and horticulture experts! Our advanced image recognition technology can instantly identify over 20,000 plants.

And if you’re concerned about a plant disease or insect infestation, you can use the keyword search feature within Garden Answers. It contains answers to over 200,000 commonly asked plant questions.

– Simple interface that is point-and-click easy to use.
– Identify almost any plant within seconds.
– Keyword searchable database to find even more information about a plant.
– Save your favorite matches under the Favorites tab.
– One universal download for iPhone and iPad.

My review of Garden Answers

The same idea as PlantNet above – snap a picture, get an answer. I would say here it is implemented in a better way: it has a large database of worldwide flora and you have also a possibility to take a photo of some problem area on your plant and ask a horticultural expert for a solution. Free of charge. However, the last function has stopped working for me after some app update. The identification is working great so.

Score: 4palms

Download Garden Answers on Google Play

Download Garden Answers on App Store




Palm World

Palmworld app screen print

Palmworld app logo

App Store description: Palm World is the ultimate database for palm trees.
More than 2500 palms species records available with thousands of pictures.

My Palm World review

The app to go bananas about palms! The most complete list of palm species searchable by the specie name or browsable by 185 genera. Most of the species have a detailed botanical description and cultivation data, many photos, links within the app to related publications, to Wikipedia and to eMonocot.

If botanical description sounds like gibberish to you, a glossary of palm related botanical terms are here at your service. This app even has a basic climate map with USDA growing zones.

The only major function I miss here is a key identification. On a “would be nice to have” list is a possibility to see known hybrids with any given specie.

I give it 5 solid palms in score.

Score: 5palms

Download Palm World on App Store



Palm ID Key

Palm ID screen print

PalmID logo

App Store description: Palm ID Key is designed to help users identify cultivated palms and supports users that may only have a portion of a complete representative sample of a plant. This key allows users to identify many specimens to species, though this is not possible in all cases, as many palms are capable of hybridizing.

Information is provided for 82 commonly cultivated palm species from 48 genera, but given the difficulty of separating palm species and the number of hybrids among them, you might only be able to determine the genus for a particular palm. Only adult palms (not seedlings or pre-reproductive juvenile palms) are included in the key and descriptions. The key is illustrated with hundreds of images of species and their characteristics or features. This key provides identification support for palms that are commonly cultivated, as of 2010, in the United States (continental U.S. and Hawaii) and Caribbean Islands.

My review of Palm ID Key

The one thing the previous palm app is missing, this one is all about it – key identification. Let’s say you are standing in front of a nice palm specimen and is just dying to know its name. If it would be a girl, you could ask and she probably could give you the right name if she liked you. With palms you need to run through some keys. This app lets you choose 54 of those.

Each key is a feature, like if the palm has one stem or a cluster of stems. Pick an answer and you limit the number of possible species to those corresponding to your choice. Some keys are obvious like the one about number of stems or if it has armature (spikes) or not. For more complicated keys you have an example photo to help make a decision. For instance, not everyone can distinguish (or understand) what is the leaf petiole indumentum type. Hopefully photos will clarify it.

By picking as many keys you are sure about the specimen in question, you will come to one or couple of possible species.

This could be a terrific tool, if it wasn’t limited to just 82 species. This has sunk the score from 5 to 3 palms from me.

Score: 3palms

Download Palm ID on Google Play

Download Palm ID on App Store





ePlant screen print

ePlant app logo

App Store description: An App to keep track of each of your plants and gardens like you’ve never seen before.

** All your plants fit within this App, including bonsais.

** You can save all kind of data: birth date, sizes, pictures, prices, providers, species, styles, substrates, fertilizers; and fertilize, spray and care patterns…

** Add logs (notes) with pictures about each action on your plant or garden. They will be ordered in an original TimeLine way.

** Share your plants and gardens with your friends through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or eMail, including pictures.

** You can select the pictures from your iPhone or shot them directly from the App. You can see all of them from the details views. Just tap & swipe.

** Search for the scientific name or common name in Wikispecies or/and Wikipedia. You can learn about your plant with just a simple tap from the plant details.

** Mark favorites and locate them quickly.

** A lot of filters and possibilities.

** Get weather info for your garden location.

** Parrot Flower Power sensor integration.

** iCloud integration and synchronization.

** Optimized for iPhone 6 (Plus).

My ePlant review

If you are like me, enjoy organizing things into categories and track some progress, you will love this app. ePlant is an inventory of your garden, indoors or/and outdoors. Add your favorite plants and take photos and notes when you repot or just on some regular basis to see how it is changing over time.

In my case I’m on a border line between the number of plants I grow and the available memory in my head. For me it is just enough to remember when I replanted my Plumeria ‘Siam red’ last time or when I bought seeds I started my Strelitzia reginae from. Any larger scale growing and you must keep some kind of journal with these records.

If you prefer it digital, ePlant is your tool. This app probably shouldn’t be listed here as a free one. The free version will allow you to save only a limited number of plants. If I remember it right, four of five plants. To be able to put it in good use you will need to upgrade to PRO, but it will be 6$ well spent.

Score: 5palms

Download ePlant on App Store

Plant Pictures


App Store description: Quick, what does a Glossy Abelia look like? Or a Frikart Aster? How about a Norway Maple?

Do yourself a favor and get Plant Pictures. Using our powerful plant database of over 26,000 plant names and the power of Google Images, Plant Pictures is the quickest and easiest way to find pictures of plants.

Plant pictures is perfect for gardeners or landscapers that are at the nursery or home improvement store looking at 1 quart containers of plants wondering what it’ll look like in 3 years.

Or if you’re a landscape contractor or designer trying to show the home owner what you’re planting in their front yard.

Plant Pictures contains over 26,000 plants in the database. Each plant is searchable by scientific/botanical and common name. Only know part of a plant’s name? No problem – start typing it in and the app will bring up relevant search results.

When you’ve found the plant name you’re looking for, pull up a quick Google Images search and find hundreds of pictures for the plant.

After you’ve found the perfect plant, save it to your Favorite’s list for quick retrieval.

Plant Pictures doesn’t teach you how to garden, nor help you plant your garden, or find the perfect plant. But it does help you find what a plant looks like. It’s simple and easy to use.

My Plant Pictures review

All this app does is helping you to look up pictures of a plant. It is just displaying results of Google image search and the results are as reliable as Google search. Not much to write home about, but might come handy as a quick reference.

Score: 3palms
Download Plant Pictures on App Store

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