What's the opposite of a "green thumb"? You. After flubbing a forest's worth of ficuses and killing countless cacti, it's time to get some help with this whole indoor gardening thing. The Koubachi plant sensor might just get your houseplants through the week.
What Is It?
A Wi-Fi connected environmental monitor for indoor plants.
Who's It For?
Black thumbs, business travelers, and stat-hungry urban gardeners.
Sleek and elegant. About six inches in length, it penetrates even the largest of floor planters. The unit is a bit top-heavy, however, and can topple smaller pots if it isn't embedded deeply enough. The tip of the sensor spike measures soil moisture, while light and temperature sensors (as well as the Wi-Fi radio) are integrated into the sensor's head. It runs on a pair of standard AA batteries and is almost fully automated—just tap the sensor's sync button to get the process started.
The hardware is absurdly simple to use. Just sink the sensor into a pot and hit the activation button to "sync" it with a plant and begin monitoring. The initial software setup can be a bit more difficult. Beyond setting up an account at Koubachi.com, you will have to pick your specific plant species from a list of options—so you'd better have a good idea of what you're raising (either its common name or scientific denomination) before you start. If you can't find your plant on the list, you'll have to go through an exhausting game of Guess Who, eliminating options based on leaf shape, size, and color.
Once you do track down the proper plant species, the Koubachi site provides extensive information on properly caring for it—everything from proper fertilization to blossom schedules. Better yet, it tells you how to keep it on the road to good health. If conditions go south? It'll send you an alert, and tell you how to make things right. What's more, you only need one sensor to track your entire floral menagerie. After the initial "syncing" is complete, you can swap the sensor from pot to pot at your leisure and receive real-time updates for each.
The Best Part
You will be able to monitor every facet of your plant's well-being wherever you can get an internet connection.
The initial plant pairing requires a full week in order to conclusively measure the plant's conditions, so if you're like me and have upwards of 30 houseplants, getting set up will take a while.
This Is Weird...
The monitoring list is hyper-specific. Less than a third of my collection was listed on the Koubachi website—few common bonsai species (Ficus pumila) and only rookie-level orchids (good luck finding anything beyond Paphs and Phalens).
- The Koubachi website tracks five environmental conditions—soil moisture, surface moisture, fertilization, temperature, and ambient light—and logs them over time.
- The mobile app is an iOS exclusive.
- One sensor works among multiple plants.
- The plant sensor is for indoor use only
Should You Buy It?
If you routinely find yourself wondering if you've watered your plants this month, yes.
• Dimensions: 60 mm x 110 mm x 170 mm
• Weight: 110 g
• Connectivity: 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, iOS and Web App
• Battery Life: Over a year
• Battery Type: 2x AA
• Price: $97 on the Koubachi website
• Gizrank: Four stars