- Smart plant sensors often feel gimmicky and can provide inaccurate results, leading to poor reviews and reliance on secondary devices.
- Using smart plant sensors can create bad habits, as they may prevent users from learning how to properly care for their plants.
- Alternatives to smart plant sensors include the Old Farmer’s Almanac for gardening knowledge and traditional soil moisture meters for accurate moisture readings.
Knowing when to water something is half the battle when it comes to keeping a plant alive indoors or outside. That’s actually a reason to avoid a new smart plant sensor, even if they can send reminders to your smartwatch or slate. These gadgets can be useful, but they can also cause more problems than they solve. We’ll tell you why smart plant sensors can be a bad idea while providing a few classic alternatives.
What Is a Smart Plant Sensor?
Smart plant sensors come in many forms, but all share a common thread. They are “connected” devices that utilize Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to monitor plants. The data they provide varies, but typically involves moisture levels and temperature.
There are advanced models that claim to measure light and the content of the soil. How well they perform has been a hot topic of debate in gardening circles, however. The main thing to know with any smart plant sensor is that you’ll need a connection to the internet, a mobile device, and a considerable amount of patience depending on the model.
Why You Should Avoid a New Smart Plant Sensor
Having the ability to access data on demand from your rose garden outdoors or a potted succulent inside may seem too good to be true. Well, that’s usually because it is. Gardening brings in billions of dollars for businesses around the globe. The home gardening niche has remained traditional for the most part, which leads us to the best reason to avoid a new plant sensor today.
They Feel Gimmicky
Whenever a new product breaks into the market and promises to do something innovative, you have to take it with a grain of salt. That’s especially true with technology and gadgets. When you factor in branding, there’s a good reason 90% of the smart plant sensors on the market feel gimmicky.
Have you ever tried to check the pH of a plant? It’s not easy and can be incredibly challenging once you factor in different plants and their needs. Some like more acidic soil, while other plants, like succulents and orchids, need soil that’s quick-draining.
No smart sensors for consumers can tell you the perfect soil combination for your plants, but some claim to. Using apps connected to a smart sensor can give you details on requirements for certain species, but you can get the same results from a free Google search.
In our research, we found most “smart” plant sensors are essentially moisture meters with a few extra bells and whistles. In other words, if you’re considering one that can perform multiple functions, the next issue on our list will become a problem.
Regardless of the product, anything you buy to measure accuracy should perform as advertised. While there’s always a bit of wiggle room for errors, you expect a scale to weigh things with precision. The same goes for a smartwatch designed to keep data on your health or a smart plant sensor that’s supposed to help you care for plants.
It’s not hard to get accurate results from a moisture meter that lets you know when a plant needs water. Temperature and humidity are also relatively easy to gauge. Finding a device that can accurately measure all of those metrics is a completely different story, however. That’s a reason many of these devices sprang to life on platforms like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo.
Using a dedicated device to measure specific parameters is often the best choice. This allows you to focus on the areas that are most important in your garden or on a specific plant. Poor results are one of the main reasons to avoid a new smart sensor, as unhealthy plants and performance have led to a wealth of lukewarm reviews.
Finding a product with thousands of positive reviews can make buying anything simple. Verified user reviews are a fantastic way to find out what people truly think about an item. Unfortunately, you’ll notice a trend when you begin to look for the best smart plant sensors online.
Aside from plant sensors that aren’t nearly as smart as they look, the first thing we noticed was a lot of poor reviews. There are also dozens of products that made an impact upon release but have essentially vanished since that time.
We were able to find some very simple smart sensors with solid ratings from companies like ECOWITT and Govee. They are useful for certain situations, but not for everyone. That’s because most need other devices to function, and a smartphone or tablet may not be enough.
Reliance on Secondary Devices
Whenever we come across any gadget billed as intelligent or smart, it typically syncs to or connects with other devices. Wired gadgets aren’t exactly smart, which means a smart plant sensor usually needs an internet connection.
That can be an issue outdoors unless you have an amazing router and fantastic speeds. How far is your garden from your router or does the device you’re interested in use Bluetooth? Those are two important questions you’ll want to ask before considering a smart plant sensor.
It’s one of the reasons to avoid a new smart plant sensor, but so are subscriptions. We’ve seen several companies provide plans alongside their sensors. Most will still function without them, but some features including data storage, could end up behind a paywall.
They Create Bad Habits
If you are trying to learn how to take better care of your plants, a smart plant sensor is a bad idea. While it’s true, they can make life easier if you’re forgetful, they can also create poor habits. If you rely on a device to tell you when something is wrong with a plant, you won’t pick up on simple tricks gardeners have been using for decades.
Before water sensors existed, people used their hands or a finger to see if a plant needed water. Considering how long humans have successfully been able to grow plants and vegetables, it’s safe to say it works. Farmers in the 70s weren’t able to rely on this type of technology, and they didn’t have to because of knowledge passed down over generations.
Habits are hard to break, and using a connected device to let you know when your garden is thirsty can lead to other bad practices. Indoor and outdoor plants can tell you what they need if you simply pay attention. Having your eyes glued to a screen defeats that, and could mean you end up spending less time around your plants, flowers, and vegetables as well.
Alternatives to New Smart Plant Sensors
The best alternative to a new smart plant sensor is knowledge. Unfortunately, that’s something many of us pick up through experience and trial and error with plants. If you want to get smarter about what you’re growing, there are a few solutions that can give you a head start.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac
If you grew up around gardens or have relatives with green thumbs, you’ve probably heard of the Old Farmer’s Almanac. The beloved periodical has been around since 1792, and while it’s chock-full of humor, it’s known for weather predictions and a wealth of tips.
Whether you need to understand the growing zone you live in or you want to know how to successfully grow beets, this book has you covered. That includes tips for gardeners that like to use astrology and how to cook what you’ve grown. Want to know the best days to go fishing or curious about folklore? You can also learn about that, as the Old Farmer’s Almanac has something for everyone.
This book is put out annually and it is full of unique information often overlooked in today’s technical age. Whether you live near the beach or want to garden indoors, you’ll gain knowledge from this classic book. It’s also one of the rare gardening books that draws in people from outside the hobby due to the name alone.
2-Pack Soil Moisture Meter
If you have a lot of plants to deal with or a large garden in a dry climate, watering can be a serious issue. It’s the one area where smart plant sensors excel, but you don’t need one that’s intelligent to get the job done. Traditional soil moisture meters are a great choice, even if most use the same basic design.
A moisture meter is an instrument that measures soil to see how moist it is. After inserting a probe into the ground, these meters give users a readout on a scale of 1-10. They’ll work with potted plans as well, but the probe allows users to go 7 inches down for deeply rooted plants. These meters are incredibly easy to use and accurate despite their low-tech nature.
Dozens of companies make moisture meters, so there’s no shortage of options to choose from. With that in mind, we went with this 2-pack from Fpxnb. We not only love the price, but also the fact that there are black and green models. This eliminates the potential for cross-contamination if you’re forgetful.
Smart devices are geared to make a user’s life easier in some way. It’s an area that’s seen some fantastic innovations but has largely been underwhelming with gardening. One of the main reasons to avoid a new smart plant sensor is the simple fact that most people don’t need one.
There isn’t a huge demand for gadgets in this niche outside of ones that check moisture. That’s something you can replicate with a “dumb” meter and get the same kind of accuracy. While learning information about plants from a smart plant sensor may seem tempting, you can get the same results by using the best plant identification apps.
|They Feel Gimmicky||Most smart plant sensors are essentially moisture meters with extra features that may not be necessary.|
|Inaccurate Results||Many smart plant sensors struggle to accurately measure multiple metrics, leading to poor performance.|
|Reliance on Secondary Devices||Smart plant sensors often require internet connections and other devices to function, which can be inconvenient.|
|They Create Bad Habits||Relying on a device to care for plants can prevent users from learning important gardening skills and paying attention to their plants’ needs.|
|Alternatives Available||Traditional methods, such as using a soil moisture meter or gaining knowledge from resources like the Old Farmer’s Almanac, can be more effective and reliable.|