I Want My iPhone App!


Insects As a new-ish iPhone user, here's what I want to know:  Where are the damn gardening apps? I've heard all about the Locavore app and that's nice.  I found a Peterson field guide to birds, and that's cool.

But what about a book like this fine title from my friends Pete & Judy Haggard?  If I was writing Insects of the Pacific Northwest right now, I'd be asking my publisher, "What format should this be written in so that it can be turned into an iPhone app?  And how do we split those royalties?"

I'm not talking about digital books or e-books, in which whole pages are scanned so that you can basically flip through them on the computer the way you'd flip through the printed book. I'm talking about books like this one, filled with bite-sized pieces of information and useful photos that can be turned into a searchable database, and in turn made into a groovy little iPhone app that would allow me to look up a bug in the field without having to carry five different reference books with me.

Or how about the guide to the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program?  That's basically a database in the form of the book. 

What about Fine Gardening's Pronounciation Guide?  I would love to have my iPhone helping me with my Latin while I'm on the road.  I would totally pay for that. 

Or the Sunset zone finder or plant finder.  I would love to have the Sunset Western Garden Book on my phone as I walk through the garden center.

And Armitage's book.  And AHS's big encyclopedia. And a durn good guide to poisonous plants.

What if the American Public Gardens Association had an iPhone app that gave me details about every botanical garden, including what gardens are near my zip code and what they've got scheduled for this weekend?  What if independent garden centers did the same thing?

What botanical iPhone app do you want?  And how much would you pay for it?

Or–at what point would you be convinced to buy an iPhone because it had so much indespensible gardening stuff on it?


  1. I’m with you! I don’t understand why gardening seems to be the one topic that is not overrun with iPhone apps. I have an app that measures wind speed, for crying out loud, and there are no gardening apps?

    I’d love to see a searchable database of perennials with a picture, hardiness information, etc. Imagine how useful that could be at a nursery where you KNOW they blur the lines between part sun and shade to sell more plants.

    Or what about a planting guide app? Using the GPS it could find where you are and tell you the proper time to plant certain crops.

    Or a weed finder: Pictures and info to help identify weeds.

    The most expensive app I’ve purchased was $9.99, and I don’t see myself going for any apps that cost more than that. Although even at that price, I’d think about it a long time. $3 is about my max for an impulse purchase.

  2. Well, there’s your answer, simple economics. Any of those aps would be terrific, but none have the kind of mass market appeal that would make it smart for a software developer to pour the time and money into developing them when the most iPhone users won’t pay more than a couple of bucks for an ap. You can’t make back the development costs on a sophisticated niche product at the really low price points iPhone users expect.

  3. A weed finder app might get me to buy an iPhone. Except that I’d never trust it. I’m on a mission to identify all the green things that pop out of the ground around my house (AKA weeds) and man, it’s tough.

  4. I’ve had my iPhone for about 7 months and I love it. I also love the few apps I have. But I agree, where are the darn gardener’s apps! Like maybe one adapted from the farmer’s almanac?

    Truth is, it is a small audience and potential sales base so it is unlikely to get a lot of attention.

  5. Those are all excellent ideas–it’d help me not look so stupid at the nursery as I pronounce “asclepias” (though I do know now after making a fool of myself, all while trying to appear like I knew what I was doing).

  6. Try http://www.landscapedia.info/mobile from Safari on your iPhone.

    Also, a native app for Landscapedia will be in the iTunes store by the end of May that will use the same open-source database. There are about 35,000 plants built as an open collaboration with plant people, so the database is updated almost daily.

    The site also provides mobile guided tour companions for public gardens. The list of available tours is growing rapidly. You can see the tours at http://tours.landscapedia.com

  7. I am not a luddite by any means – I have a blog and I use technology a lot in my “real job”. But I haven’t even got my own cell phone yet (my husband and I “share” one), let alone an iPhone! Budget restrictions, to be honest. But am I the only gardener without one? I like being in the garden and away from technology!

  8. I see I’m not the only one who has wondered about gardening apps for the iPhone. I want a farmer’s almanac so I know what to plant when in my area (as someone mentioned above). I Was thinking the exact same thing a month ago when I was wondering when to plant corn. Also, someone read my mind on the Sunset Garden Guide.

    And I also want an app like Urban Spoon. Shake it or search and find near by nurseries and gardens with ratings.

  9. Maybe, to tie in with the poisonous plants & weed ID apps, one that identifies edible wild plants ? I’m fascinated by the number of “weeds” in our yards & green spaces that are actually tasty & nutritious, but not being actual crops, they are tossed out like garbage. It could even be plugged as a ‘worst-case scenario’ survival guide.

  10. I’m with you, Janice! No I phone for me; I can’t even retrieve messages on the little cell phone I have, which is rarely used.

  11. I think the main problem is that the overlap between the gardening world and the iPhone world is VERY small (and they all read this blog). As a native plant enthusiast in CA, let me cast my vote for the Jepson manual s an app.
    Since one can sign up with Apple for only $100 to develop an app, and share in the profits with them, I am seriously thinking of doing this (good thing I’m moving to the capital of Silicon Valley where all the programmers live).

  12. See comments by Janice and Marte above to underscore my point.

    For Tweeters in the audience, you can follow me at Agrostophile for live Twitter updates today and tomorrow from the madhouse that is the SF Botanical Garden May plant sale. I am featuring 37 species of CA native grasses that will be offered for those interested in lawn replacement and other grassy indulgences.

  13. I think a horticultural dictionary ap would be great. The other thing I’m curious about is the “Garden Mama” nintendo DS game. Anyone played that??

  14. I got a good one, I have thought it might work online in a blog/garden network sort of way.

    What if the app could tapp into local weather stations that many gardeners and farmers have installed all over the country. Instead of getting info from your local news station, you could get much more localized information from a farmer or gardener down the road.

    Though it is hard to tell for many reading this site, most gardeners are not involved with the internet in any way. Just send a hard to pass email to your local Master Gardeners group like “free hundred year old japanese maple” and see how few actually reply. At work, we decided to get rid of a few hundred divided bulbs and sixty or so fruit, and shade trees and maybe 3% of master gardeners responded.

  15. Check out “Gardening”, in the Lifestyle section of the iTunes app store. I just released it April 30th. Its by no means complete, but its a start for this years gardening season. Its focused more towards a beginner and provides information on a growing list of crops. Currently features allow you to track what is in your garden and how long till harvest. You can also create todo lists.

  16. I’m wishing that Folia was available as an offline app. I’d get my garden journaling done much more quickly if I didn’t have to wait for page loads. I LOVE Folia, but I want offline capability as well.

  17. None.
    Absolutely nada.
    iPhones are, in my opinion, a waste of money, time, and will–like too much loud music has done to ears–be a big boost to the optical industry.

    I’ll continue to spend my money on plants and mulch.

    Having a digital camera in my pocket, and excellent reference books back inside is as techie as I wish to get in the garden.

  18. I love my iPod Touch. I’m too cheap to buy into the G3 network on any device, let alone an iPhone.

    One problem: it’s hard to see the screen in bright daylight!

    I thought I’d be a wiseacre and download a local tour I give onto my devise. I go to pull it out and look at my notes…and I can’t see the screen to save my life!

    An ap would be nice, particularly a journaling one. I’m currently using “Notes” to journal my garden and my bee hive activity. While a plant or bug reference app would be nice to have, in theory, in the bright light of day, I’m afraid it might not be as useful as you’d like.

  19. I keep looking at the app store, expecting gardening apps to show up! I’d love to have my Sunset “bible” on hand all the time and I’d really like some kind of garden journal app where I can take notes and organize photos and other information throughout the season. I’d pay about 9.99 for the Sunset app, maybe almost that much for a really good journal program.

  20. I would love a bug id and plant id application. Even a track and scat id would be great when I am out hiking. I would pay $20.00 to id a plant any where.

  21. Yet another iPhone user waiting for more apps here. I downloaded Jeff’s “Gardening” app as soon as I read about it above, and I’m liking what i see so far. I hope the list of plants grows over time. (Non-veggies would be nice, too.) I love the calendar feature, allowing me to know when each crop is ready to harvest.

    BTW, I also really like iBird Explorer (I’ve got the Backyard edition). Seems like a great potential model for what to do with plants.

  22. The (pipe)dream app (it will never be developed) would mimic the app where your phone can ID a song just by holding it up to a speaker or humming a few bars.

    In this case, you use the camera to shoot a plant and it ID’s it down to variety.

    And then connects you to some nursery where you can download the plant for your own garden for 99 cents.

  23. I thought I saw on TV an iphone app that identifies plants by taking a picture of it. Does anyone know this app?

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