The tech to make your garden grow
Turns out the Internet can change the color of your thumb. Click through to find all of the ways connected devices can help you manage your yard work.
Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor
The first type of device we'll look at: plant sensors. You place these devices into the dirt near your plant, where they keep a close eye on growing conditions and send you recommendations accordingly. The Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor is the most expensive one we've seen -- it's $100 for the indoor version and $130 for the weather-proofed one -- but it measures moisture, light and temperature and sends that all directly to the cloud via Wi-Fi, letting you check in on your plant from anywhere.
Parrot Flower Power
The $60 Parrot Flower Power brings the price tag down quite a bit. It also measures everything Koubachi does, and adds readings for fertilizer. However, since it's limited to Bluetooth, it doesn't have Koubachi's reach, meaning you'll need to be relatively close to your plants in order to get up-to-date readings.
The next version of Parrot's gardening assistant will go one step further in helping you care for your plant. It'll measure the same criteria as the Flower Power, but you can screw in any ordinary water bottle and turn it into an automatic watering machine.
Oso Technologies PlantLink
PlantLink from Oso Technologies keeps things simple and measures only soil moisture. You will, however, need to plug in a hub -- its job is to talk to the sensors and relay the info to your device. Still, it's a simple system that works reliably, and adding additional sensors to the $80 starter kit costs just $35 each.
Digital Springs Daisy
Another sensor limited to Bluetooth, Daisy, from Digital Springs, looks to stand out from the crowd with a relatively low price. It has a lot of the same capabilities as the Parrot Flower Power, but the expected retail price will be $16 as opposed to $60. Color us intrigued.
Plaid Systems Eve Ecosystem
The upcoming Eve Ecosystem from Plaid Systems can multitask. It includes a sensor that goes into the soil, as well as a main piece that replaces your sprinkler controller and automates the watering for your yard based on those sensor readings.
Edyn Garden Sensor and Valve
Edyn also multitasks. The $100 main sensor measures everything Parrot does as well as adding humidity to the ranks, and can send you the data remotely over Wi-Fi. It's expensive, but has the specs to be the best of the bunch if it works as promised. If you want more from your setup, the $60 Edyn valve attaches to your sprinkler hose and waters your plants when they need it.
You could also attach your basic hose-to-sprinkler setup to the Wise Orchard valve. Like Edyn's watering device, it uses smarts to plan a schedule for you and help you save water. The $70 Wise Orchard doesn't have its own sensor -- instead, it uses local weather readings to figure out when your plants will need a drink.
You don't want to water your plants when it's going to rain. Whereas Wise Orchard will help if you water with a hose and sprinkler, the Rachio Iro can act as your sprinkler system's personal meteorologist. The $249 Iro can control 8 zones, or you can pay $300 for a 16-zone device. Complete with an IFTTT channel, the Iro can be part of a larger smart-home setup and will turn on your sprinklers if your Nest Protect senses smoke.
Blossom Smart Watering Controller
The $180 Blossom Smart Watering Controller does the same thing as the Rachio Iro and the sprinkler controller of Eve. It doesn't have Rachio's interoperability, but it can control 12 zones for less than it costs to control 8 with Rachio. It's also weather-proofed and can communicate with the cloud via both Wi-Fi and Power-line for a theoretically stronger signal over a greater distance.
GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub
The $250 GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub only controls six zones, but has an open API and announced collaborations with the Parrot Flower Power and the Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor, achieving multi-tasking status through teamwork.
If you don't have a lot of outdoor space to work with, worry not. Our list rounds out with smart flower pots you can use inside and out. Planty, from nThing, monitors light, temperature and humidity and waters your plant itself with its built-in reservoir. It'll even send you push notifications when it's time to refill that reservoir.
With AliGro, you won't even need to worry about refilling the reservoir. Attach a hose to it, and it can refill the reservoir itself for true care-free plant maintenance. You can pre-order a model for $60, and you might want to pair it with another sensor if you need help with other growing conditions like light and fertilizer.
Click & Grow Smart Flowerpot
If you don't want to worry about fertilizer or light, the Click & Grow has you covered. It ships with a light and fertilized soil, and it manages plant care from start to finish. You're limited to Click & Grow's specific seed cartridges, but it's a fast way to get herbs to grow quickly without any effort.
Ohneka Farms Root
Finally, if growing one plant at a time isn't enough, Ohneka Farms Root waters for you, helps with fertilizer, ships with its own light like Click & Grow, and lets you grow 16 different seedlings at the same time. It isn't cheap, though -- you'll just need to pay hefty $300 for the privilege of growing an entire garden in one tower.