I’ve never considered myself a gardener, primarily because I can’t be patient enough to learn proper techniques for planting and caring for living things. I’ll plant a vegetable garden every year, but it’s total hit or miss whether something produces or not.
I’m also notorious for forgetting to water my hanging baskets, and then they curl up and die well before the end of the season.
This year, I feel like I can do better. But that’s because I have some technological help. I recently got a hold of a Parrot Flower Power plant sensor. It monitors whatever you’re growing, automatically, and sends you alerts when there’s something you need to tend to.
What Parrot Flower Power monitors
The Parrot Flower Power sensor monitors four key areas of data:
- Light intensity: the sensor will measure light intensity to establish whether your plant needs more or less sun.
- Ambient temperature: keeps an eye on the ambient temperature in its location and lets you know if the plant needs to be in a warmer or cooler location
- Fertilizer: the sensor will measure the level of fertilizer required for soil salinity
- Soil moisture: keep track of how wet or dry your plant’s soil is and know when you need to water, or when you’ve overwatered
The Parrot Flower Power sensor uses your smartphone or tablet and Bluetooth to connect to the cute stick-shaped sensor. Via the free app you’ll get all the updates you need direct from your garden.
The base of the sensor features a thin and narrow metal fork that will easily slide into any type of plant pot, or soil. To use it, you select the specific plant you are placing the sensor in, and whether it will be indoors or outdoors. (And if you need help identifying a specific type of plant, I highly recommend the Garden Answers app!)
Once the Parrot Flower Power is paired and connected with a plant, you need to wait about 24 hours for full data. You don’t need to stay connected to the plant during this time, the sensor will just zap the information to your smart phone so it’s ready next time you open the app. With that said, you can still get some limited and immediate ‘live data’ right away, such as what the overall moisture level is in the soil at the moment.
Testing the Parrot Flower Power
I found the device very easy to set up and use. You don’t even need to read the directions, since the Flower Power sensor is quite intuitive.
In my first round of testing, I wedged the device in an aloe plant in my living room. After the device had monitored the plant for about a day and found almost zero moisture in the pot, I dumped a cup of water into it just to see what would happen on the sensor. Using ‘live view’ in the app, I watched as the moisture level went through the roof as soon as the water hit the pot. Excellent! The sensor was working.
I left the Flower Power in there for about a week and then checked the graphs for the four key data points. I could easily see how long it took for the pot to dry out. Also, during that time, I got an alert/push notification to my phone telling me the plant was in too little sunlight. The app advised me that if we were not merely experiencing bad weather, the plant should be moved to a sunnier location. Given we had just had four or five days of cloud and rain, I didn’t think there was much I could do, but I relocated the plant to a sunnier spot, and that seemed to help.
[wpvideo UTgfvNNk]My next test was to stash the flower power sensor in a hanging basket out front of my house. These are the baskets I constantly forget to water, so getting an alert or reminder could mean I get weeks more life out of these expensive hanging planters.
While initially the water level was just fine, I did get an alert that the basket could use more fertilizer. That was a good one, since I rarely consider fertilizing my hanging baskets. A quick splash of some miracle grow later, and the basket was back in business. Alerts and push notifications to water the basket also kept it from dying early on.
It’s important to note that your phone will need to be within a certain distance of the sensor in order to receive data; so if it’s sitting out in a distant garden area, you’ll need to get within Bluetooth distance to sync your info.
The next tests for the Parrot Flower Power will be to drop the sensor in my vegetable garden; but that test will be a few weeks in the making, so for now, this is the review. I think this small and inexpensive gadget that can help black-thumb gardeners improve their skills. Got specific questions on how this gadget may work in your yard? Ask and I’ll answer them.