House & Home

New year, new season: Gardening apps are popping up all over

Pollinator gardens bring butterflies and flowers together.
Pollinator gardens bring butterflies and flowers together. TNS

Just like you sync your tablet or smartphone to cloud-like backup systems, gardening will sync with Mother Nature to create a more perfect natural world, according to Susan McCoy, trend spotter and president of Garden Media Group.

“We walk, talk and sleep with our phones,” says McCoy, in a news release.

“Now people are getting plugged in outside, too, syncing garden habits with technology and garden hobbyist with each other. People want to be successful with plants without a lot of work or information. To do this, they are turning to technology to help grow plants both indoors and in the garden.”

Armed with apps

“Consumers are utilizing technology in the garden,” says Joan Casanova of Bonnie Plants, a brand of vegetable, flower and herb plants sold at garden centers in the Kansas City area and nationwide.

“Instead of technology being a distraction it is instead a pocket-sized garden tool to learn and share food gardening experiences.”

The Bonnie Plants “Homegrown” app acts as a resource for gardeners of all levels — novice to expert, according to Casanova, thanks to these features:

▪ Notes: Track your garden’s progress through the season, including planting, watering, feeding, pests and harvesting.

▪ Reminders: Set notifications so you never forget an essential garden task.

▪ Photos: Create a visual history of everything you grow.

▪ My Garden/Catalog: Browse info on more than 250 veggies and herbs, then create a personalized list.

▪ Choosers: Use the Tomato and Pepper Choosers to find just the right varieties to grow.

▪ Weather: See current and predicted weather for your locale, including rainfall.

▪ Learn to Grow: Access a series of guides that provide the basics for success.

▪ Sharing: Quickly and easily share triumphs, challenges, and lessons learned with friends and family on social channels.

▪ Hands-Free: Go nearly hands-free in the garden with the dictation feature.

You can enter every plant you have, what date you planted it and keep tabs on how it’s doing, too, like your own personal garden journal right in your pocket.

The app is free on the iTunes App Store. To learn more about the app and download for free, visit:

Easy peasy plants

Succulents in anything are showing at all the gardening trade shows and magazines, according to Tish Llaneza, owner of Countryside Gardens in Hampton, Va.

“They are really taking off,” says Llaneza, who goes each year to trends and buying shows up and down the East Coast.

“Both indoor varieties and outdoor are becoming more and more popular, using them in terrariums, high heels, coffee cups and hanging orbs, just to name a few indoor uses.”

Teresa Bennett, owner of online Gardens by Teresa in Yorktown, Va., agrees.

“Succulents are drought-tolerant, easy care, both for those that are hardy in this area and the tender varieties. They also come in an amazing array of textures and colors. Even the cuttings from many succulents make extremely long-lasting arrangements.”

Pollinator gardens

Pollinator-friendly gardens remain huge, according to Diane Blazek, executive director of the All-America Selections and the National Garden Bureau.

“If you have a vegetable garden, don’t forget the plants that attract the pollinators who do their job and help you get cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, etc.,” Blazek says.

The National Garden Bureau is one of a couple dozen organizations supporting the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge managed by The National Pollinator Garden Network to register pollinator-friendly gardens.

“Without pollinators, your edibles suffer and do not properly mature,” Blazek says

“And, pollinators don’t have to be just native plants. Yes, natives are important but many annuals can be just as beneficial. It’s important to understand the many different types of pollinators and their pollen and nectar needs at different life stages.”