Plants Can Tweet and Send Text Messages


My relationships with plants are often a bit strained. I manage to drown tomatoes. I wind up mistaking hibiscuses for weeds year after year and either hack them to death myself or pay the neighborhood kid to do it. If you're a member of the vegetable kingdom, then I'm afraid you and me simply weren't meant to be.

But it all comes down to communication, right? Why can't you plants, say, just tell me when you need watering instead of passive aggressively withering on me when you're thirsty?

Am I being unreasonable? Well, not according to the makers of Botanicalls, the new telecommunications system that enables your plant to send you texts, e-mails or tweets when they need watering.

Of course, your plant's not actually going to send out tweets -- though I can't imagine their messages would be any more mundane than the average human Twitter user. Botanicalls makes use of an Ethernet-enabled soil probe. According to Science Daily, the probe sends out electrical waves through the soil and the amount of moisture in the soil affects the overall voltage level. TreeHugger has a good graphic of the system here.

It's not a dummy-proof system, though. You still have to set the probe for the type of plant you're growing, as well as the type of soil. Granted, I don't have a green thumb myself, but my gut instinct is to go the extra mile and actually keep an eye on your vegetation. There are also indicator plants, which can clue you in to when the other plants need watering, as well as a variety of low-tech artificial indicators.

But what about pets? Sure, we have pet webcams and some pet-sitting businesses that offer text message updates, but it's a little surprising that we don't have any gadgets to send us tweets when our cats are hungry, when our dogs freak out over mailmen or when either winds up going oopsy on the floor.

Anyone out there try any of these products out? Let me know how they work for you.

Learn more at HowStuffWorks.com: How Twitter Works How to Design a Garden What is fertilizer and why do plants need it? What is container gardening?


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.