One of the struggles many people have with growing plants is remembering to water them often enough. Even if you do remember, it isn't easy to know if the plant actually needs water or how much it needs.
It is a constant guessing game. So, it is no surprise that many plant deaths are a direct result of improper watering.
What can you do to save the lives of your beloved plants? One of the easiest solutions is to begin using a plant moisture meter.
Continue reading to learn what a moisture meter is, how it works, and what is the best plant moisture meter.
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What Is a Plant Moisture Meter?
Hunker explains that a plant moisture meter is a device or tool that will tell you if the soil contains enough moisture. It goes into the soil so that the reading will tell you what is happening at the root level.
It is essential to know what's happening at the roots since that is where your plant will take in the water. If the roots are dry, then the plant needs water. However, lower down in the soil where the roots are will stay wetter longer than the topsoil, so it is tough to determine by normal checks if the roots need water, which is why a moisture meter is so handy.
Depending on the type of meter you use, it may have an electronic readout or gauge that will tell you the moisture level. Some of the simpler moisture meters will just change color when the roots are dry.
Advanced models will also provide additional information. In addition to just giving you soil moisture readings, the device may also tell you the pH levels and sunlight levels.
How Does a Plant Moisture Meter Work?
Moisture meters may seem rather simple in design, but the way work is rather scientific and requires understanding the conductivity of moisture in soil. Most meters will have two metal tips that go into the soil to produce an electrical reading.
These tips pass electrical currents between them. Water is a great conductor for electric, so when the moisture content is high, the electrical current passes between the ends quicker than it does when the moisture level is low.
Other more simple designs use some type of wicking to produce readings. It could be a string or clay that soaks up the water and changes color to indicate the water level. Typically, a darker color will be more water, and a lighter color indicates less water or no water.
What Are the Types of Plant Moisture Meters?
The simplest type of moisture meter is a wicking meter. It will usually have a string or some kind of material that can soak up the water. It will provide a visual for you to see if there is enough moisture because the indicator will change colors with the level of moisture.
Analog meters do not require any power source. They use a gauge that sticks out of the soil and have two metal prongs that go into the soil. As explained above, the prongs communicate with electric currents.
Digital meters use some type of power source. They often have digital readouts and can provide more advanced readings beyond just moisture levels. This type of meter uses electrical pulses similar to how the analog meter uses electric currents between two prongs.
What Is the Best Plant Moisture Meter?
The question, “what is the best plant moisture meter,” is not something that is easy to answer because it will vary based on your particular needs. Take time to assess your needs and consider the features of the meters you are considering
The wicking style meter is very simple. It works well indoors, but you will get inaccurate readings outside due to the interference of the sun and other weather elements.
An example is the IPPINKA Sustee Medium Refillable Insert Aqua Meter. This is a simple stick design that includes an insert that soaks up the water. The indicator at the top changes colors to show if there is enough water or if the plant is dry.
- Set includes one refillable sustee watering stick (white) and two insert replacement sticks - Size: 0.4 x 0.3 x 7.1" (medium) is best for pots 4.7 to 7" in diameter, suits all plants and maintenance-free
- Has color indicator that changes depending on soil type; best used in soils that retain water - White indicates plant needs watering; blue indicates it's been watered
- Has refillable core that allows for replacement cores to be inserted - Each stick will last for approximately 6-9 months
- Sustee collaborated with Tokyo University of Agriculture to improve the design and function of each stick
- Materials: polycarbonate (main body), nonwoven fabric treated with preservatives (refill) - Made in Japan
The analog type does have some durability issues as the prongs rust easily. This will affect the readings you get, so over time, they will lose their functionality. You will have to stay on top of cleaning them and keeping them in good condition. However, they are an affordable choice if you are an attentive gardener.
The Yoyomax Soil Test Kit is a nice analog meter. It has an easy to read gauge and will give you readings for sunlight and pH in addition to moisture.
- Cut the guess work altogether and make your plants much happier. You will know what your plant need when and why; your plants will be healthier and growing.
- 3 in 1 design (Moisture/pH/Light Tester) provides you a comprehensive idea about the soil condition of your garden and lawn. With a quick check, you can tell if you need to adjust the plant food/water and if your plants get enough sunlight.
- No batteries or electricity needed, ready to use out of box. Plug and read, making gardening easier than ever.
- Compact and portable for indoor/outdoor use. A necessity for anyone who gardens or has houseplants, it will come in handy whenever you grow an interest in gardening.
- [24 Hours Online] You can contact our 24 hours customer service through clicking "Sold by" on the product detail page or your Amazon order page and you will be directed to "Ask a question" to send us message.
Digital meters are going to cost the most, but they offer many advanced features. Some of them connect to mobile phone apps or smart home devices. It might be too much of an investment if you are only trying to monitor one plant indoors, but they can be a good choice if you are more serious about gardening.
For a feature-rich option, consider the VegTrug Soil Tester. It tests moisture, sunlight, and pH levels. It also monitors nutrients in the soil, and the tester has both Android and iPhone apps so you can manage your plants hands-free.
- 🌱🌱 [Bluetooth Flower Care Monitor 4 in 1] Grow Care Home - Monitors light, temperature, humidity and nutrients; Find your plant in the vast database of more than 6,000 plants and record the daily growth log in the iOS or Android APP "VegTrug Grow Care" via the Bluetooth connection, which helps you to better grow your plants and flowers
- 🌱🌱 [Fertility] EC Sensor: Accurately detects soil nutrients, has 4 EC sensors that detect soil nutrients and make them an accurate veil to display on a smartphone. The database provides perfect nutrient range values for different plants, just follow them. The EC sensor is made of stainless steel, which increases the reliability of Flower Care for prolonged use on the soil
- 🌱🌱 [Humidity Levels] A sensor with long black strips section help to quickly detect the water content of the soil and can know precisely if the plant should be watered; The accuracy of monitoring results reaches the standard EC5 professional soil probe
- 🌱🌱 [Temperature / Light] VegTrug Plant Sensor Plant Monitor has a precise professional temperature / light sensor that helps you monitor and analyze sunlight and temperature, a measurable light intensity of up to 100,000LUX, intensity accuracy Luminous can reach 100LUX and the temperature accuracy can go up to 0.5 ℃
- 🌱🌱 [Bluetooth 4.1 Connection] Connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.1 high efficiency; Full control through the free application "VegTrug Grow Care" for Android and iOS, available on Google Play and App Store; Works with the CR2032 button cell (Included) with a lifespan of up to 1 year
How Do I Care for My Water Meter?
Once you decide which type of tester you want to buy, you will need to maintain it so that it lasts. The wicking meters don't require a lot of care. If your meter uses a string, you will just need to watch for fraying or breakage and replace the string as needed.
Analog meters will require some routine maintenance. You need to wipe off the prongs and ensure there is no rust formation. Always wash them and dry them before putting them back in the soil.
Digital meters require that you take care of the battery. You want to make sure it does not corrode or leak. Don't leave the battery in if you are storing the meter and not using the meter for an extended time. Also, make sure you don't pour water onto the meter directly.
Guide to Houseplants gives some general advice for meter care, including never forcing the prongs into the soil. You want to guide them in there so that they do not bend, which can affect the function.
Check Your Plants Moisture Level
A moisture meter can eliminate the frustrations that come with figuring out if your plants need water. You can look at the meter and know if you need to bust out the watering can or not.
Make sure you choose a meter that matches your needs so that you get the best overall value. There's no need to overspend as the simple meters can do just as good of a job as the more advanced models in many situations. What is the best plant moisture meter depends on your needs, so match the meter to your needs, and you should end up happy.
Last update on 2020-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API