What to do when you inherit garden plants: Garden Answers app review

Sometimes, when you move into a new garden, it can be difficult to know what plants to keep, move or get rid of. If you’re anything like myself, you are reluctant to get rid of any plant at all.

However, what do you do if you come across a plant that you simply have no idea what it is? Are you even sure that it isn’t a weed?

This is rarely a problem if you move into a relatively young garden with a bare lawn and not much else. Most of us can recognise common weeds also. But the problem arises when you inherit a more mature plot and with it, mature plants.

This is predicament I found myself in when I moved into a new home with my partner earlier this year. The garden was over grown with some plants I had not come across before:

What to do? Rather than scour books or websites for hours in what can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack, I have found a free and reasonably reliable solution!

Now, before you say it… No, you do not need to take a cutting of your plant on a journey to your local garden centre in the hope they can identify it. Nope, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home!

After some research, I stumbled across a free app from the Google Play Store called: “GardenAnswers“.

All you have to do is take a close up shot of your plant (preferably both the foliage and the flower) and then the app matches plant suggestions to your photo.

Here is the home screen for the app:

You simply click on ‘Take a photo of your flower’ which will take you to this screen:

Here you can the click on either ‘Take photo’, which will allow you to take a photo using your phone’s camera or you can select ‘Photo Album’ to select your own photo from your phone. This is useful if like me you take photos when gardening but only sit down to use this type of app in the evening when researching and it is dark outside.

Here is a photo I used for the app:

Then these were my results:

If you scroll down the results page on the app, it shows you other plants that could be a match. But as you can see, the first match on the results page was suggesting it is a european honeysuckle. Some of you may be thinking it doesn’t look quite the same and you are correct. But if you click the information button next to the plant suggestion name, it takes you to another page which gives you additional information:

Yes! Lo and behold there it is! You may notice now that we have both the genus and species of the plant (Lonicera periclymenum) which is one excellent advantage of this app in my opinion. It is ever so important for us garden knowitalls like myself to know a plant’s genus AND its species 🙄 But on a serious note, if you enjoy researching plants and learning about them as much as I do, this is a real bonus because you can find out everything you need to know about a plant including how to care for it, where it originates from and – also very importantly – how to propogate it.

One other advantage of this app is that if you are really flumoxed with a plant and cannot figure out what it is, you can select ‘Ask a horticulturist?’ On the home screen. This not an avenue I have had to explore because using the photo method on the app has been excellent so far, but it is useful to know you could use that option if you needed to.

On the other hand, one disadvantage of this app is that you are limited to waiting for the plant to be in leaf (if it is deciduous) and also for it to flower which you could be waiting all year long for. That issue is not so much any fault of the app, more a timing of nature and cannot be helped. Patience and gardening go hand in hand 🙂 I suppose you take solice in the fact that eventually a plant will come back into leaf and flower (if it flowers that is), unless of course in the waiting period…you kill it. 🙊

Similarly, another disadvantage is that you must take clear photos which only include the plant’s leaves and flowers otherwise it drastically skews the results. But then that is to be expected I suppose.

This app also cannot tell you exactly what variety a plant is, but it does go some way to helping you out. Certainly once you know what genus a plant is, you can begin looking into its species and eventually (hopefully!) its variety. For those of you garden newbies like myself once upon a time ago who I have now dumbfounded with my genus/species/variety talk, well, let’s just say that’s another post for another time…

I hope I have helped some of you who have found yourself in this predicament to find a new convenient and simple way to identify new plants in your garden! Please like this post and follow my blog so you don’t miss my new blog posts! 🙄 Happy gardening 🌱

Written by Bethany Wright at The English Meadow

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