Shazam for plants service Garden Compass hits Android: We go hands on

Garden Compass promises to give would-be horticulturalists expert insight into growing plants on the go. 

Perhaps taking a leaf out of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk playbook, Garden Compass lets you snap plants on your phone and upload them to a database where one of a team of experts will get back to you with the right information. 

From there you can strike up a conversation with whichever expert gets in touch. While this might seem like a human-powered Let Me Google That For You at a distance, part of the appeal is that the people you’ll be speaking to are certified Master Gardeners. 

Founder and COO of Garden Compass George Williams, who wrote his university dissertation on yellow magnolias (of all things) sees the platform as a way for people a bit younger than your average Chelsea Flower Show regular to get some pro tips on keeping that Japanese peace lily growing in their flat. 

“There are many people in their twenties and older who like having a garden to relax in but wouldn’t call themselves gardeners,” said Williams. “Gardening sometimes suffers from a nerdy image, so we’re trying to make it simple and easy for people to make the most of their outdoor spaces, without having to become gardening geeks.”

Garden Compass has been available on iOS for a while now and earlier this week an Android version sprouted in Google Play. We’ve had some quick hands on time with the Android version, sending a request for tips on how to keep an off the shelf chilli plant going. Experts promise to get back to you within 24 hours of your photo being uploaded; we’re 188th in the queue at the time of writing. 

With over 25,000 downloads of the iOS app since the start of this year, the Garden Compass team have got their work cut out for them. There’s currently a team of 50 experts worldwide, 11 of which are based in the UK. 

Garden Compass could act as a nice companion app for things like Parrot’s Flower Power H2O sensor. While devices like this do the job of watering plants for you when you’re out and about, Garden Compass’s experts will be able to fill you in on things like whether a north or south aspect is best for your plants and be able to identify pests on sight. 

Right now Garden Compass works on a freemium model; you’ll get your first three plants photo identified for free after which you’ll need to sign up for a premium subscription, which costs either £4/month or £36 for a year. 

Hopefully the panel of experts will be able to steer us in the right direction; a couple of summers ago, we got hold of a Flower Power from Parrot. Unfortunately for the office plant Alan, no matter how much we watered him, it never seemed to be enough. Here’s what he looks like now. 

To celebrate National Gardening Week, Garden Compass is also running a competition that’ll see users who share a snap of their favourite plant to an expert with #GreatestGardens in the comment box entered into a competition to win a trip of their choice to one botanical garden in either Brazil, India, Singapore, South Africa or the US. 

You can download Garden Compass for iOS and Android now.