- PlantNet Plant Identification app is completely free to use and allows users to join regional groups and connect with people of similar interests.
- PictureThis app offers plant identification, diagnosis for sick plants, and options to identify insects, tree age, birds, and plants harmful to pets.
- LeafSnap app provides plant identification, reminders for plant care activities, and a diagnosis feature for sick plants.
- Blossom app offers plant identification, gardening tips, and a health section for plants and gardens.
- NatureID app identifies natural objects like plants, mushrooms, rocks, and bugs, and offers reminder features for plant care.
Identifying strange things growing on your property doesn’t take a botanist if you have the right assistant. The best plant identification apps can help you hone in on a stubborn weed or diagnose issues in your garden.
Unfortunately, dozens of apps claim they can identify any plant with a photograph. That’s true with many, although features and performance separate the best from the rest. We took a walk through the garden with the top plant identification apps, and feel the five below stand head and shoulders above the rest.
The Best Plant Identification Apps
Is it a weed or a flower? That’s a question that plagues millions of amateur gardeners each spring. It’s also something that a plant identification app can answer within seconds. These specialized mobile apps can also help diagnose a sick plant or provide gardening tips and landscape ideas. There is something for everyone, but we feel these apps are the best for Android and iOS users today.
1. PlantNet Plant Identification
One problem with a lot of plant identification apps is they look like they rolled off an assembly line. Aside from minor UI changes, they all have the same basic set of features and charge more at a point. PlantNet bucks that trend as it’s completely free to use and has some very cool features.
PlantNet allows users to set a general area for use with their plant feed. In this case, we’re in the Southeastern U.S. which allows us to see “observations” from the region. You can choose how much information you want to share if you post photos, but are also able to help validate plants. It’s a great way to test your knowledge or focus on certain plants from an area.
That’s also where the Groups feature comes into play. Users can join regional groups around certain topics and connect with people of the same interest. It’s basically social media on a lighter scale as your interactions are fairly limited within the groups. From within the Species section, you can scroll through thousands of plants from a region. The photos are virtually endless and you can search by family, genus, or species.
Plant identification through PlantNet is painless through access to your gallery or your smartphone camera. You can embed identification for photos, but to take one, simply press the identify button. There is no overlay, so you have full access to your phone’s camera which results in a stellar shot. Users are not limited, which is a huge bonus with this type of app.
This app won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re looking for gardening tips or reminders. It is an excellent way to identify plants in your backyard along with those from users around the world. This amazing app is free to use and download, but you can donate to the developers to show your appreciation if you like what you see.
2. PictureThis – Plant Identifier
Whether you’re interested in new landscaping trends or want to help a sick plant recover, PictureThis can do it all. From cactus care to plant identification, Glority Global has put together a fantastic app for gardeners and plant enthusiasts.
PictureThis is another app with a social feel, but one that’s not unpleasant like Facebook or Twitter can be. There are shareable articles with likes covering hundreds of topics with no comments. The home section is like a news feed for plant lovers, and there are some incredibly useful sections. Wondering what plants are dangerous to children?
They have a Top 10 list, but you can also read up on how to create French floral arrangements or a winter garden. Plant identification is quick and painless. Like other plant identification apps, it uses your phone’s camera or you can load photos from your device. It is one of the most accurate apps we tested alongside our top choice, and adding items to your collection is a breeze.
PictureThis has a Diagnose section for sick plants indoors and out. Multiple photos allow the app to try and find the issue or you can ask an expert through their premium plan. There are also some hidden perks in this app under the More section. We didn’t test all of them, but there are options to identify insects, tree age, birds, and plants harmful to pets with your camera.
This app is in the top spot on Apple’s Education app list and has more than 10 million downloads on Android. Some apps can handle certain areas better, but none put it all together with the accuracy of PictureThis. The app is free to test out with plenty of access, and a full subscription is priced at $29.99 a year.
3. LeafSnap Plant Identification
Appixi isn’t a well-known developer, but they have one of the more popular apps in this niche. LeafSnap has a similar design to its competitors and doesn’t break any new ground in that regard. Where it excels is accuracy, as it was able to capture almost every plant we threw its way.
One of the things we liked about LeafSnap is it’s easy to get down to business. Yes, it’s ad-supported unless you choose a premium account, but it’s also responsive and accurate. In around 30 seconds we were able to accept a few permissions and take several photographs. It nailed all of the easy plants and did a good job on succulents as well.
After a photo, you can choose a matching plant to access more information. From here, there’s an option to add a plant to your collection. Once you’ve added a plant, you can set up reminders for a variety of activities from rotation, lighting, and watering to pruning and pesticides. It’s an intuitive system, and the Tasks tab allows you to quickly check your to-do list at any time.
LeafSnap also has a diagnosis feature that’s in Beta. This can tell you what’s wrong with a plant using a series of 3 photos and is free to use. If you want to access their premium database of plants and unlock advanced identification, you’ll need a subscription. It’s $3.99 a month or $21.99 per year to use those features and remove the ads.
Android users have not been kind with the rating on LeafSnap, but the App Store tells a different tale with a 4.5 rating. The app isn’t perfect and the ads can be annoying if you’re using the free version but we had no issues overall. It’s one of our favorites, however, as it’s quick, easy to use, and should be able to identify most plants you’re likely to encounter outdoors.
This popular app from Conceptiv has been well-received by people on Android and iOS. Blossom puts an interesting spin on plant identification. While it has the same basic features as its competitors, the company takes a slightly different approach.
Blossom’s UI is easy on the eyes and easy to use. You can explore ideas from gardening pros across a variety of areas. That includes finding the perfect plants for homes with retro décor or browsing through different collections of plants. There are loads of useful tips along with a health section for use with plants or your garden.
Blossom Health attempts to perform a diagnosis on a sick plant through photos. There’s also an “ask the expert” feature that allows users to submit questions to botanists. When it comes to plant identification, you can type the name of a plant or snap a photo, which is where limitations begin to come into play with the app.
The app was able to identify most of the plants we tried and allow you to take multiple snaps of a plant. Users are also given a certain amount of free plant IDs. When those run out, you’re out of luck unless you choose to subscribe. Blossom is priced at $24.99 a year or $3.99 a month. There is a 3-day free trial period as well.
Blossom was one of our favorite experiences, and they have the snazziest search feature by far. Pricing is reasonable next to the competition, but unfortunately, access is limited unless you plan to pay. While that’s par for the course with these types of apps, others provide a few more snaps before cutting you off.
As the name implies, NatureID allows users to identify natural objects in the world around them. It has no trouble telling the difference between a rose and a geranium but can do more than that. If you want to look up a mushroom, rock, or bug, you’ll want to consider this app.
The interface of NatureID is similar to other plant identification apps with four main areas. You can diagnose sick plans, look at your plant collection, explore various guides, or snap photos to identify a plant. Plant IDs were accurate for the most part outside of a few relatively common succulents. You’ll want to be careful with your selection, however, as you can only take a few before hitting the paywall.
We were unable to test the app on mushrooms, but it was able to successfully identify several bugs. Rocks were a fail after several attempts, especially after it labeled a common rock we took out of the ground as fool’s gold. On a positive note, the My Plants section allows you to separate houseplants from outdoor plants.
That’s incredibly handy when paired with the app’s reminder features. There aren’t as many options as you’ll find with LeafSnap, although there’s ample data on each plant and you can take notes. We also appreciate some features that don’t necessarily stick out. The light meter, pot meter, and water calculator are great examples.
NatureID is another app with well over a million downloads and positive reviews on both platforms. While they don’t provide many free plant IDs, they are the cheapest service to make our list. If you like what you see, you can subscribe to NatureID for $19.99 after taking their 3-day trial.
Being able to identify almost any plant growing in the wild with your smartphone is something we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. The best plant identification apps make that easy, and you don’t need a flagship device to run them. Just keep your needs in mind before agreeing to a subscription, and remember to set a reminder before taking on any free trials.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©History-Computer.com/Carl Field.