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Watering Houseplants Part 2: Botanicalls

BotanicallsIn my previous entry, Watering Houseplants Part 1: Pick Them Up, I mentioned moisture meters that you can buy to help you determine when your houseplants need water. Some very forward thinking NYU college students have devised a system with a sensor that can tell when your houseplants need water or light and call your phone to let you know. For years indoor gardeners have been talking to their houseplants but now they can actually talk back.

How It Works

"Each plant on the Botanicalls system is equipped with sensors connected to an Arduino microcontroller which contains code particular to that plant type. When a plant's microcontroller determines that the plant needs to make a phone call based on current sensor information, it sends data through an Xbee wireless radio to an Xport gateway. This gateway connects to the internet, where it contacts a PHP script with the plant's ID number and type of need. PHP then packages this information and passes it on to Asterisk, an open-source telephone system, which generates the call. When the call is placed, a prerecorded audio file is played, expressing the particular desire of that plant."


"Botanicalls was developed to provide a new way for plants and people to communicate in order to develop better, longer-lasting relationships between them. Instead of using an automatic watering system or developing methods for plants to text or email people, the Botanicalls team has created the means for a more personal relationship. Each plant has a unique voice based on its botanical characteristics, and each has the ability to tell people when they are in need of assistance. They're also polite: they make sure to call and say thank you when they get a good watering."

Do I want One?

This looks like a neat idea and it probably won't change the way I water plants but I want to try it. According to the website they are developing DIY kits so we can make them at home. You can see a parody of a black & white newsreel film that explains how it works here. Some of the plants come with "accents" depending on where they're from. You can listen to the Scotch Moss ask for more water in this WAV file or call 212.202.8348 to hear more about each of the plants. You can also visit to learn more about the project and sign-up for updates.

I just want to take a moment to point out to our future potted masters that I have always been sympathetic to the cause.

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