Identifying a plant is of interest to all plant lovers, whether we are talking about houseplants, outdoor plants, or the ones you find on your walk. By knowing what we are looking at, we’ll be able to identify the needs of the plant and successfully care for it. So many species to be identified, too many apps to choose from.

Fortunately, we did our research and created this list of the best plant identification apps for both Android and IOS devices.

This list contains three of the best free plant identification apps and three of the best paid apps. Since the first three apps are free for use, I decided to put them to test. The results were not disappointing!

So, let’s get started!

The best plant identification apps:

  1. PlantNet
  2. iNaturalist
  3. PlantSnap
  4. PictureThis
  5. FlowerChecker
  6. Garden Compass

I. The best free plant identification apps

1. PlantNet Plant Identification

Price: Free for use, no card details required

plantnet best plant identification app reviewed

Description: Pl@ntnet is a plant identification app which describes itself as a “citizen science project on biodiversity.”

This app groups its over one million images into “projects”:

  • geographical, which covers plants from around the globe;
  • thematic, which would include ornamental and cultivated plants;
  • and micro-projects such as specific flora of a particular, and perhaps very local region.

How does it work?

This plant identification app can only identify a plant whose image has already been shared by a user and thus, added to its database. It claims to have over 20,000 species in its database which grows every time a new identification is made.

Like all plant identification apps, the position and quality of the photo are critical. There is a tutorial on the Pl@ntnet web site to help with this.

Choosing the correct ‘project’ is essential!  When photographing and adding a common houseplant under the “geographical” category, the identification result was unknown. However, when I added the same plant under “useful plants,” the identification by leaf was immediate and accurate.

Once the app identifies a plant, it shows other similar plants so the user can confirm their choice, thus adding to the database.

Pl@ntnet also allows the user to browse its extensive directory of plants through family, genus, or species. Users can share their photos to be verified by other users.

Where can I get it?

Pl@ntnet can be downloaded on either IOS or Android devices for free.

It is necessary to register to take full advantage of the app and to share your own contributions, but no credit card information is requested.

While there is a small bar of advertisements at the bottom of the screen when a plant photo has been taken, it is unobtrusive and does not detract from the experience of using the app.

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2. iNaturalist

Price: Free for use, no card details required

Plant identification app test iNaturalist

Description: iNaturalist is another citizen-based venture and is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Science and the National Geographic Society.

With the introduction of its plant identification mobile apps, iNaturalist provides gardeners, plant lovers, and other nature enthusiasts the opportunity to share observations of the natural world through its social network.

How does it work?

Contributors observe and record sightings or encounter into the database.

Identification is confirmed by other users as well as by image recognition technology. If the photo is unclear, iNaturalist will suggest possible options which can then be verified.

By sharing or confirming observations, users are creating research data. As of June 2019, iNaturalist users had contributed more than 25.6 million observations.

The iNaturalist web site has a comprehensive list of FAQs and tutorials as well as a Help function on the mobile app. The app allows you to explore an extensive database of observations and species which include plants of course but also insects, animals, butterflies, etc. This amazing feature allows you to browse sightings in your area plus nature projects which may be underway at institutions near you.

I found the app easy to figure out and use. I was also able to identify an unknown garden plant which has grown in my garden for years!

Where can I get it?

iNaturalist is available for free on both Android and IOS. Registration is required through either Google, Facebook, or email, but no credit card information is requested.

I did not notice any advertisement. iNaturalist has an app called Seek, which is designed for children and families where no registration is needed.

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3. PlantSnap

Price: Free for use, no card details required

PlantSnap App Test

Description: The goal of this plant identification app is to provide a “digital interface” between people and nature.

It has a database of over 500,000 species of plants, flowers, cacti, succulents, and mushrooms and over 150 million images, all available with a click. PlantSnap is available in 30 languages and uses artificial intelligence technology to identify plants.

If you have ever wondered how to identify a plant, or a mushroom, or a tree, an app like PlantSnap can be a big help.

As someone who is not entirely at ease with technology, I appreciated PlantSnap’s tutorials, which describe how to maximize the use of the app and how best to take a photo of the plant you are curious about.

How does it work?

This plant identification app relies on a picture of a leaf or part of a plant. Correct photo placement allows the app’s recognition ability to be used correctly and results in accurate responses.

The software lets you crop your photo and once saved, identifies the plant within a second or two. The app asks if its identification seems correct to you and, if so, you may save it to the database. If the plant is not already in the database or answers incorrectly, you can add it by saving it, thus increasing the plant identification app’s continued “learning.” In addition to the plant identification, the app gives you information about the plant, its genus, origin, size at maturity, flowers, and fruit.

I pointed PlantSnap at ten different plants, a combination of houseplants and garden plants, and identification was correct each time.

Where can I get it?

The PlantSnap app can be downloaded on both android and IOS devices for free. However, there is a premium version of this app, and switching to premium is constantly encouraged. One of the advantages of the premium version is the reduction of ads; on the basic version, the ads are annoying, frequent, and can be as long as 30 seconds.

The free, basic application allows the user ten identifications per day after which the gallery can be explored only.

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II. The best paid plant identification apps

1. PictureThis – Flower & Plant Identification

Price: 7-day free trial

Description: PictureThis calls itself “a botanist in your pocket.” Its advanced artificial intelligence has identified over 27 million plants through user’s photo submissions and claims 99% accuracy. In addition to plant identification, PictureThis offers plant care tips on watering, and pest control, among others. It provides a social network for plant lovers and is highly rated on Apple and Google.

PictureThis offers a 7-day free trial after which the user is automatically entered into a one-year subscription. Many comments online suggest difficulty canceling the subscription or being subscribed long term when they thought they were signing up for the free trial.

While this app offers the plant lover many options, it is wise to decide beforehand if the subscription is of interest.

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2. FlowerChecker, Plant identify

Price: 1 USD/Correct Identification

Description: FlowerChecker is a different type of plant identifier app. Rather than being computer-based, Flower Checker has a team of experts which receive a user’s photo, analyze it, and post an identification on the app.
This can take time, although FlowerChecker claims that 50% of its responses are posted within one hour.

Because of the human involvement, there is a small fee for each correct answer (no fee is charged if the team is unable to identify). The first three identifications are free. Several users in the App Store enjoy the app and recommend it.

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3. Garden Compass – SmartPlant™

Price: 1 USD/correct identification

Description: GardenCompass also uses a team of experts to identify plants and/or plant diseases. Users can place their plant photos in a “digital care calendar” where the app will provide the user with advice and recommendations.

The app will give the user reminders about needed tasks in the garden. It allows two free photo submission credit and a free credit each month. Becoming a premium member at a monthly cost allows you to access several additional features.

This app is well-rated on the App Store for accuracy and speed.

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Conclusion

Plant identification apps are a great tool for any gardener! While there are many apps to choose from out there, the final choice will depend on personal preference. Artificial intelligence or a team of experts? Willing to pay or not? Can’t stand advertisements?

My favorite is Pl@ntNet for its global themes and its research-based information and approach. iNaturalist appeals to me for its association with National Geographic and its vast database of the natural world. Both are informative and accurate. PlantSnap is precise also, very comprehensive, and highly rated, but its advertisements are annoying.

How about you? Have you had experiences, good or bad, with plant identification apps? How have they impacted on your gardening practice? We would love to hear from you!

About the Author - Gail Edwards

I have been a fan of indoor plants for over 40 yearsand have over 60 plants in my home.I bought my first plant, a Schefflera, when I was a teenager and slowly began collecting and propagating different varieties of plants.Now that I am retired, I also devote time to an outdoor flower garden and a vegetable garden in the summer months. I live in Canada where the

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