Written by Paige Vandiver
These days, there’s an app to help you do absolutely everything. From meditation to banking to ordering food — there are few things you can’t do from your phone, and identifying plants is no exception.
There are a considerable number of plant identification apps for both iPhone and Android (but not always both). The issue we ran into during our little experiment was finding the apps that would truly identify plants from a picture at no cost, so we are going to give you the scoop on a few of our favorites that are available on both devices for free.
PlantNet: a Citizen Science Project on Biodiversity
PlantNet is our number one pick for a totally free plant identification app. PlantNet describes itself as a “citizen science project on biodiversity”. It counts on its users to create a botanical database and the user is the last word on whether or not the plant listed is a match.
When logging in, we really love that it goes straight to the menu with no pesky advertisements. It asks each user (in cool, Star Wars-like font) for a new “observation” of a plant via your phone camera or gallery.
Once the app receives the picture, it asks you to choose the organ you want to identify (leaf, flower, fruit, or bark) and it “leafs” through its database to find the name.
If you think the app has identified the plant correctly, you can “confirm” and your picture and answer will be added to the database as well. You can then click on icons to take you to additional information on select websites such as Wikipedia.
PlantSnap: Where Nature and Technology Live in Harmony.
We immediately liked the tagline of our runner-up: Where nature and technology live in harmony. We also thought that PlantSnap was aptly named and pretty catchy for an app where you snap a picture to identify your plant.
PlantSnap provides a really good video tutorial on how to use the app features, which is always appreciated. The app allows you to take pic and then zoom in for identification. It then gives you a description, kingdom, class, order, family, genus, habitat, symbol, and the title of the plant.
We weren’t a big fan of the long paragraph form in the description section because it wasn’t skimmable or super digestible. However, we appreciated how thorough and informative this app is. It even told us which plants were toxic for our pets!
GardenAnswers: The Self-Proclaimed “Shazam of Plants!”
You will have to click “receive weekly marketing messages” to get the free option (which means we will probably be getting poked on the shoulder weekly to buy their premium option). Of note though, this one did have one of the most cost effective premium options at only $3.99/year. The app asks your skill level and whether or not you want to make Pinterest board, which we thought was a pretty cool option if you are into using Pinterest to plan your garden.
Once you take a pic, the app gives you options of what might be your plant and then gives you what they call “past answers”, which are links to external sites that give you additional information.
So there you have it! The 3 best free plant identification apps on the market. There are plenty more that will charge you a monthly or annual fee and most of their bonus features (such as the “Ask A Horticulturist” feature on GardenAnsweres) do cost extra.
Dayton Gardeners Can Identify Their Plants by Stopping by Stockslager’s Greenhouse & Garden Center!
If you get that one sneaky plant that refuses to be identified, feel free to bring the plant (or a picture of the plant) into Stockslagers, so our gardening experts can help identify the plant with you. We love answering all your questions, free of charge!