If Only the New iPhone Could Do This!


SpectrometryHere’s a gadget I would totally go for.  According to Science Daily, researchers are working on a way to use an infrared flashlight that they could shine on plants to see nutritional deficiencies.

(OK, I know that some of you are going to jump in here and say that you can see nutritional deficiencies with your eyes.  I get it.  But why use your vast horticultural expertise when you can rely on a toy like this instead?)

Besides, this could signal much earlier changes to a plant brought on by nutritional deficiencies or watering problems:

Frantz, Locke and colleagues are testing ways to bounce infrared light off plants, in order to read the earliest possible signals of nutrient deficiency. The signals could be key proteins or other molecules associated with stress, or a change in a leaf’s light reflectance as a result of a deficiency. Spotting ways in which plants signal stress would be a way to detect a problem before any visible evidence of damage to the plant occurs.

Smith & Hawken, you roll out one of these, and I’ll be the first in line to get one.  What else would the ultimate garden device have?  A camera phone, of course.  MP3 player?  Hotkeys that let me order plants online while I’m standing out in the garden?  Oh, and a weather station.  It’d have to be waterproof and shatterproof, too.  Call us when it’s in beta.


  1. Maybe it could have a built in lie detector for those times that a client calls because the garden you just installed is dying but they swear they watered enough.

  2. How about adding a soil moisture tester and soil pH tester that also tells you what to add to the soil to raise or lower the pH and in what quantities?

  3. As a landscape designer and construction administrator who has to deal with both plant deficiencies and installation sub- contractor deficiencies, I would stand in line for a flash light designed for the later.
    Plants I can deal with, but grown men who can’t get their act together deserve a good ‘flashing out’.

    And yes, this new device should come with some kind of long barbed probe so I can stick it where it counts when the subcontractor needs to be accountable.

  4. in conjunction with the gardening coach post, one of these toys would be great to use to teach newbies how to recognize nutrient deficient plants. kind of like biofeedback!

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