Helpful gardening apps

Get help plotting your garden, dreaming up ideas

By Marielle Gallagher / The Bulletin

Dirr’s Tree and Shrub Finder

Cost: $14.99

Platform: iOS

Highlights: This app is a database of the information published in the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael A. Dirr, a comprehensive book used by many professionals in the horticulture industry. The iTunes description of the app says it includes “1,670 species and 7,800 cultivars, with 7,600 high-quality plant images.” This app features advanced search capability where users can set narrow parameters using 72 criteria options, including zone, hardiness, sun and water needs and plant growth. Plant descriptions include incredibly comprehensive information pertaining to the plant and end with Dirr’s personal input about the plant.

Garden Tracker

Cost: $2.99

Platform: iOS

Highlights: This is a great app for those who enjoy organization, maps and tracking progress. Users begin by establishing the size of their garden plot by columns and rows up to 50-by-50. Multiple garden plots can be input. Users choose from a long list of plant types to document what they’ve planted where. Any plant types not on the list can be added manually. After the plants have been input into each square, the user updates the app with any crop progress such as watering, fertilizing, treating for pests and harvesting. The app records the date of all actions so you can see the last time the plants were watered or fertilized. Additionally, there is a tab for information, with corresponding photos, on common garden pests and diseases with tips on control.

Landscaper’s Companion

Cost: $4.99

Platform: iOS

Highlights: This is a reference guide where users can either view all plants in the database or have the database sort by hardiness zone. The guide is divided by types of plant, including evergreen, annuals, bulbs, cacti, houseplants, roses and herbs. The search function allows the user to search by common or scientific name. In addition to providing the environmental requirements of each plant, the growth rate, colors and uses (when applicable), this app also features many full-screen photos. You can also save plants to your “favorites” list or email them directly from the app to a friend. We enjoyed filtering the databases’ photos by plant type and browsing photos of bulbs or water plants, for example.

Good Food Seasonal Recipes

Cost: $2.99

Platform: iOS

Highlights: Produced by BBC Worldwide, this app offers recipe ideas that incorporate fruits and vegetables that have been deemed “in-season.” For January, the app’s in-season crops include apple, beetroot, broccoli, celeriac, leeks and mussels, and the January recipes include Anjou pear cake, beet and caramelized onion tart and ham, leek and potato pie. All recipes include a photo and complete directions with measurements available in metric or imperial form. Extras include cooking technique videos, including one on how to spatchcock a whole chicken. A glossary of ingredients drill down on specific foods to include their flavor-profile and gastronomic information with linked recipes that feature the ingredient. Although this app offered relevant-to-the-season recipe inspiration, we would have liked a larger arsenal of recipes and videos.

Bugs in the Garden

Cost: 99 cents

Platform: iOS and Android

Highlights: Here is a photographic index of 34 bugs, some of which are labeled with a “b” for beneficial. To learn more about a bug, tap it to get a description, actual length, plants that it affects, the damage it can do and how to manage and repel, or attract it, like in the case of the ladybug. This is a very straightforward app with not a whole lot of information, but enough to get someone pointed in the right direction.

Our Rose Garden

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS and Android

Highlights: This is a reference guide all about roses. The directory of roses lists them alphabetically by name. Each description includes the name, class, height and hardiness zone for the specific rose and a color photo of the bloom. Other features include complete information on planting, pruning and winterizing roses. Two videos included in the app demonstrate how to manage Japanese beetle infestation and how to properly prune a rose.

Garden Compass

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS

Highlight: This app seems almost too good to be true. Users can submit a photo of a plant, pest or even color scheme and receive a delayed response via email that will identify the plant or pest and offer design ideas. To try it out, we snapped a picture of an office plant and submitted it for identification. A few hours later we received an email that correctly identified the plant as a philodendron. The email was not grammatically perfect so we couldn’t tell if it was a real person who had responded to the query, but it did include a personal touch noting that the plant “needs some help.” The email offered tips to “give it a boost,” that included moving it to a brighter location and a dose of “organic, slow-release fertilizer.” The app’s “Design Center” component says to “take a photo of anything: any color, any color combination, or texture and we will show you exciting plant ideas that match.” The app also proposes to connect users with retailers of featured plants and merchandise, but everything we browsed was linked to a retailer in the Willamette Valley.

Pinterest

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS and Android

Highlights: While not a gardening-specific app, Pinterest has an easy search function that allows users to narrow search results by topic or item. Try searching “garden paths” or “terrarium” for a plethora of project ideas. This app provides endless eye-candy to inspire and motivate. When you see a photo of a project or design you like, pin it to one of your virtual pinboards so that you can revisit it in the spring when it’s time to get busy outside.

When there’s little going on in the garden, it’s a perfect time to scheme and dream about how to revamp and revitalize your outdoor space. To assist in the planning, we’ve pinpointed a few gardening apps that bring together comprehensive plant information, photos and tips to provide a well of inspiration. There are many more garden-centric apps available than just the ones listed here. These as some of the ones we found most unique or helpful.

— Reporter: 541-383-0361, mgallagher@bendbulletin.com