Houseplants are trendy these days. A 2018 National Gardening Survey found that 30% of all U.S. households have at least one houseplant, and the average household spent $503 on lawn and garden, up almost $100 from the previous year. If you want to get started with houseplants, these days it's not a problem, even if you don't have a green thumb. New plant care technology means your houseplants can thrive without a lot of fuss.
*Smart Water Systems
If you've ever gone away for a weekend, or longer, and forgotten to water your plants, self-watering flowerpots and planters can keep your greenery satiated. The Parrot Pot, sold on Amazon, has a self-watering Plant Sitter mode, which will care for your plant for up to one month unattended. It has built-in sensors that monitor light, temperature, soil moisture and fertilizer levels in real time, and even allows you to monitor plant progress through a smartphone app.
According to Better Homes and Gardens, the Keter Easy Grow Elevated Garden Bed, sold at Walmart and other retailers, is a self-watering planter with a built-in draining basin. A water indicator glows red when it's time to drain and green when plants need additional moisture. And a watering system at the bottom of the basin holds the water to thwart overwatering and root decay. Plus, this planter is tall enough that you don't need to bend over as much to garden.
Indoor plants need more light than outdoor plants. That's according to the Modern Farmer website, which says indoor plants need 14 to 18 hours of light every day, and at least six hours of darkness for optimal health. (Shade-tolerant houseplants don't need that much light.)
Modern Farmer identifies three types of grow lights: T5 fluorescent bulbs, which have higher light intensity and are suitable as the sole light for plants that love the sun; LED grow lights, which are ideal for growing a lot of plants in a small space, since they produce less heat than other bulbs; and HID grow lights, which are pricy but powerful heat producers.
The Plantui Smart Garden uses an intelligent LED light system combined with automatic watering to grow an indoor garden. The hydroponic system has a simple three-step process. First, add water and nutrients to the garden bowl. Add the plant capsules, such as basil or dill. Then plug in the system and attach the so-called light hat. Germination typically takes two weeks, with the plant fully grown in six weeks.
*All in One
AeroGrow, which makes and distributes AeroGardens, the world's leading family of In-Home Garden Systems, also sells hydroponic gardens. It is launching a fully automated, self-contained indoor gardening system. The Grow Anything appliance promises to revolutionize in-home growing with a plant computer that's accessible on the garden device and through an app. While it will be big -- refrigerator-sized -- users can monitor and adjust light, temperature, humidity, water quality and nutrient levels. There will even be a camera so you can remotely monitor your plants' growth and health.
If you want something more basic, consider a soil monitor. The Scott's Gro Water Sensor Starter Kit helps home gardeners figure out when plants are thirsty. It comes with a Gro Hub and one Gro Water Sensor, with additional sensors sold separately. Plug the hub into an outlet. Then place a sensor, powered by two AAA batteries, in the soil and the device will start measuring moisture content. Download the Gro Connect app so the hub can alert you when your plant needs watering.
Whether you have one houseplant or aim to have an impressive indoor garden, smart tech is making it easier to take your indoor gardening to the next level.