We’ve all faced the nightmare: you buy a nice plant, or someone buys it for you, but you don’t know how to look after it, or even what it is.
You try to look after it, but very soon the leaves are wilting or drooping and turning brown at the tips. Is it hungry, thirsty, or drowning?
It’s this gap between blooming dreams and green fingers that the £50 Flower Power from Parrot aims to bridge.
The twig-like devices sits in your plant pot and tells your phone when to feed and water your plant, and even if it’s too hot or cold, or not getting enough sunlight.
It will even help you to identify a mystery plant, so needing a bit of greenery in the Recombu office, we bought a random houseplant from a street stall and plugged in.
Parrot Flower Power review: setting up
Plug in the supplied battery, and then stick the twin-pronged base of the Flower Power into the soil near the edge of your plant pot, taking care not to damage the roots.
You’ll need a decent-sized pot, as the prongs are 9cm (3.5in) long, and are supposed to be all the way in, although ours seems to work well in a shallow pot. It’s waterproof, so you can use it with both indoor and outdoor plants.
With that done, you’ll need to download the Flower Power app to your Bluetooth-enabled iDevice – this is not yet an Android-friendly device.
The app itself is free (as you’d expect from a £50 device) and when you’ve found your Flower Power, you can search the plant database to find out what it is. The filter icon lets you select by type (edible, grass, indoor, treet etc), its shape, the colour of its blooms and leaves, its lifetime and the season when it will flower. If you know some of that, you’ll probably already know what it is, though.
We identified ours as an Aglaonema Commutatum, also known as White Rajah Evergreen, an annual perennial which will grow up to two feet tall and wide if we repot it. It looks easy to care for, but beware – the sap is poisonous and can irritate the skin.
You can even add a picture for each Flower Power you’re using, which will be handy if you have a few, and upload it to share with other users. That’s a thing, now.
Parrot Flower Power review: in use
You’ll need to connect your iDevice to the Flower Power every day to get the most out of it.
It can take a couple of tries to sync, then uploads the data to the cloud to analyse, before telling you how to satisfy your plant’s need for water, fertiliser, heat and (sun)light.
After a few days it will begin to predict when you should feed and water your plant. Ours was also regularly unhappy about the lack of light at weekends when the office lights were out.
We can understand why Parrot has chosen Bluetooth – it’s low power, low cost and simple to use, with a decent domestic name, but it also requires you to connect to update the plant’s data.
The smart home world has several low-power wireless standards, like Z-wave and Zigbee, which can connect directly to your broadband via a simple hub device and keep you constantly updated on your plant’s needs.
Let’s face it, that’s what you need – to ask a friend to water your plants while you’re on holiday and make sure they have done.
Parrot Flower Power review: Recombu’s verdict
The Parrot Flower Power is a great idea let down by two things: it’s iDevice-only and Bluetooth is not the most practical technology for remote monitoring, although it’s probably kept the price down.
We’ll keep monitoring our office plant to see how it gets on, and maybe we’ll even buy a control plant to compare over the coming months. The office will be better for it.