These Plantable Pencils Grow Fresh Herbs From Your Failed Lit Ambitions

There are times—dark, frustrating times—when you put pencil to paper and nothing's there. No inspiration. No life. So you scribble and scratch and sharpen until all that's left is a bitty wooden nub reminding you of the barren wasteland that is your brain. You could toss that useless end bit in the trash. Or! If… » 5/28/14 5:00pm 5/28/14 5:00pm

NASA's New Orbiter Will Watch Plants Photosynthesize from Space

For the last 25 years, scientists have been able to monitor the "greenness" of trees from space and use that as a tool for evaluating plant health. The problem is that greenness isn't a good indicator for stresses—such as drought—because some trees (think pines) continue to be a lovely green until they're dead.… » 5/06/14 9:23am 5/06/14 9:23am

A Screw-On Cloud That Turns Plastic Bottles Into Watering Cans

When it comes to watering, there's nothing stopping you from simply dumping a bottle of H2O onto the plants on your balcony, as long as you're cool with possibly damaging them and splashing wet dirt all over the place. A gentler approach is a better idea, and Animi Causa's new Rainmaker—which emulates a gentle summer… » 1/29/14 6:40pm 1/29/14 6:40pm

Plant Cells "Talk" With Electric Signals, Too

A particular detail has always stuck with me from The BFG, Roald Dahl's dark-as-hell children's book that's actually about giants snatching kids from their bedrooms. The one good, non-kid-eating giant tells his friend about superhuman hearing: "if I is twisting the stem of the flower till it breaks, then the plant is… » 12/20/13 2:20pm 12/20/13 2:20pm

This Agricultural Breakthrough Makes Every Crop Self-Fertilizing

We've been using nitrogen fertilizers to bolster crop growth since the neolithic era. But producing enough food for nearly seven billion mouths requires intensive farming practices that demand heavy applications of fertilizers. And their overuse is taking a heavy toll on the environment—an estimated $91 billion to… » 7/30/13 1:38pm 7/30/13 1:38pm