It’s come to this: I’m spying on my plants



This has been sitting in a box in an upstairs room for about a year and a half.  You know how that happens. I finally took the PlantCam out and set it up (very easy). As some of you know, this device takes pictures at set intervals for as long as an entire growing season. It then stitches them together to create a timelapse video. You put in the batteries, set the clock, set the intervals, and switch to auto. That's all.

It's in a sturdy plastic shell, so it can be used outside in any weather. For my purposes, though, I thought I could get some quick results by documenting these hyacinths, the last to emerge from the root cellar. When I bring the tulips up next week, I’ll document them as well. 

PlantCam comes from the people (Wingscapes) who make the arguably more exciting BirdCam. And you have to wonder how useful either of these innocent devices would be for surveillance of other types. Hmmm.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Hmm… that would actually make for a really cool time-lapse progress video of a landscape installation. I’d set it to snap pics each day after the guys leave, though. There’s the privacy issue, but then there’s also the “wow, Jim scratches himself a lot” issue that I’d hate to save for posterity.

  2. Elizabeth, I just got one for Christmas from my husband, and I can’t wait for spring! I’m a plant collector, so my plan is to move it around the beds, focusing on one of the more unique specimens, and document birth, life and death. Time-lapse photograph has fascinated me all my life, and I’m really looking forward to this.

  3. Thanks!

    If you set it to medium quality and every 10 minutes, it can go for about a week before the batteries run our or the card fills. But that’s only good for slow moving stuff. For the Amaryllis bloom, I set it to one photo every 5 minutes, and I emptied the card every night.

    Here’s another favorite, of a banana leaf unfurling:

  4. How fun!! I would love to set one of those up since we’re not at the Schoolhouse all the time. I could see if my grape vines are sprouting (my husband says they will but they look pretty dead to me).

  5. I’ve been using this since this summer, one pic per day in the mornign of the garden (it’s 0 outside right now). Only once did I cathc myselfblurrily crossing the camera image. Hope to make a 365 day vid with it.

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