I must admit that when I first received an email in my inbox about an app called PlantIn, I was a little sceptical. As a blogger, oftentimes I find companies and individuals ask me to use my platform to promote goods and services that I find somewhat dubious. Nonetheless, I decided to try the app, given that it seemed reputable enough on the app store. For transparency purposes, I should flag that I am not being paid or reimbursed in any way for introducing and reviewing the app and my thoughts on the app are reflective of my own personal experience.
What is PlantIn?
PlantIn is a plant identifier and general aide for plant growers. You can add plants into “spaces” by taking photos of them in the app. The app then identifies the plant and provides basic care requirements like light, temperature, and humidity. It also provides care instructions like watering frequency and when to fertilise. The app also has an additional feature which allows you to track the growth of your plant over time by documenting its growth in photos.
An interesting additional feature is the Ask A Botanist feature which allows users to submit questions to a botanist simply by submitting an email address, their question, and relevant photos.
Some initial thoughts on PlantIn
The plant identification feature is often accurate down to the species for most household plants that I have tested the app with. However, when it comes to some rarer houseplants, the app is only able to get down to the genus in its identification. I do note, however, that there is an option to request that a plant be added to the database. I think that the range of plants that can be identified wouldn’t be an issue for most houseplant growers. People who buy rare plants are generally already in the know about what they’re buying and don’t need an app to identify rare plants for them. I think the identification feature would be particularly helpful for people who buy plants from big department stores where plants are often labelled “tropical foliage” or something to that effect instead of being labelled with their actual names.
The app’s care instructions are tailored to your location, which I find helpful because it accounts for the climate and season of your region. In this sense, I think the care instructions might be helpful for beginner growers or those who are often too busy to take time to inspect their plants and get a sense of when they should be watered and fertilised. The app can also set reminders for when plants need to be watered and fertilised. While the app can act as a guide for when to water, it is always advisable to stick a finger in the soil to check whether a plant really needs to be watered. As helpful as the app is, no mobile app can account for the size of the plant, changes in the weather, whether the plant is potbound and what kind of soil mix you are using with complete accuracy.
While I myself have not used the Ask A Botanist feature because I’m already up to date with all my plant care at the moment, I can see it being helpful to growers both new and experienced.
Where I personally think this app falls short is in both its identification and care instructions for orchids. When I tried to identify and search for certain orchids, the app was unable to provide adequate information in the majority of cases. That being said, orchid growing is highly specialised and complicated compared to growing most other plants. Even within the same genus, the care requirements and growth patterns for orchids can be wildly different. Where some Dendrobiums require winter rest and dormancy to bloom, others do not. Likewise, where some Cymbidiums will die back in winter and produce new bulbs in the next growing season, others will remain lush all year round. Essentially, asking the app for information on orchids is a tall order, but it can certainly be done with time and a patient community on the app which works towards improving the app by requesting expansions of its database.
PlantIn is a great identifier and guide for the vast majority of people who engage in the houseplant hobby. It is particularly helpful for new growers and those who thrive on structure rather than intuitive plant care. While it lacks specialised knowledge of rare houseplants and orchids, I find this isn’t too much of an issue. Generally growers who have an interest in these areas will already have an idea of what is required of them from a plant care perspective.