Guest Blog Post by: Mary Anne Lynch

Originally posted on LeafPort blog, April 15, 2013 

Tucked away in a cor­ner of any yard, no mat­ter the size, is an ideal space for small plants. If they can be fool­proof — mean­ing ideal for a given spot based on expert opin­ion, so I don’t have to fuss over the choices — so much the better.

Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens

Land­scape designer Susan Mor­ri­son has devel­oped a gar­den app to assist in your design of such spaces. It’s called “Fool­proof Plants for Small Gar­dens” on the iPhone and iPad, and “Plant Picks for Small Gar­dens” on Google Play for Android phones and tablets. 


You can search for plants in sev­eral dif­fer­ent ways. Ini­tially, in Browse mode, you see “Every­thing” — which includes intro­duc­tory chap­ters such as “About Peren­ni­als” and plant­ing zone infor­ma­tion in addi­tion to indi­vid­ual plants, which are sorted by their Latin name. Here’s how it looks on the iPhone — the iPad has a sim­i­lar menu:


The screen shot above yields another way to select plants on iOS devices – through the stan­dard alpha­betic col­umn on the right hand side.

On the Nexus 7, which runs Android, “Every­thing” is tucked away in the Cat­e­gories menu.


From here, you can find, say, all Fra­grant plant vari­eties (my favorite kind!). Here’s the Fil­ter menu of the iPhone on the left, and the Nexus 7 on the right…


…and here’s the result­ing list of fra­grant plants. Again, the iPhone is shown on the left, and the Nexus 7 is shown on the right.


Note that brows­ing by Sec­tion will cat­e­go­rize your list into plant types; on the Nexus, the type is already shown beneath each plant name. So in either app (iOS or Android), you are actu­ally con­duct­ing a two-level sort: Cat­e­gory (flower color, ever­green, orange flow­ers, etc.) and Type (tree, shrub, ground­cover, etc.).

Note: On the Nexus check­list screen­shot above, check­ing a sec­ond attribute will yield plants fit­ting either cat­e­gory, rather than a smaller sub­set of plants hav­ing both attrib­utes in com­mon. So in the case above, with the “Fra­grant” cat­e­gory checked, check­ing “Flow­ers (Pink)” will give you a list of Fra­grant flow­ers and Pink Flow­ers, and not a list of pink flow­ers that hap­pen to be fragrant.

Now, Sophora secun­di­flora (Texas Moun­tain Lau­rel) looks inter­est­ing, and click­ing on it will give you lots of details — not just the stan­dard height, spread, plant­ing zone, etc. but an inter­est­ing nar­ra­tive that could only have come from some­one expe­ri­enced in grow­ing the plant. Don’t miss Susan’s real-voice record­ing in the Pro­nun­ci­a­tion Guide, which will be use­ful to any­one who has ever man­gled a Latin plant name! (Cotoneaster, any­one?) Susan also includes prac­ti­cal Youtube videos where they’d be help­ful to see tasks in action. The videos play within the app so you won’t lose your place.

Here are some iPhone screen­shots of the full descrip­tion of Texas Moun­tain Laurel.


You can also ask a ques­tion about any plant or tag it as one of your favorites via the heart icon.

A quick tap on the photo in either app (iPhone/iPad or Android) yields a mini-photo album of the plant.


Yet another way to search for plants is by click­ing on a tag. When you scroll to the bot­tom of a plant descrip­tion, you’ll see a list of its related attrib­utes, or tags. Click one and it’s the same search as if you’d searched via a Fil­ter or Category.


Click­ing the Pho­tos but­ton in either app allows you to browse via pic­tures. In fact, it’s help­ful to think of the Browse but­tons and Pho­tos but­tons as tog­gles between a list view and a visual view.

On the iOS plat­form, you get an over­all mosaic of pho­tos; on Android, pho­tos are shown one at a time. Here’s a por­tion of what the “Fall Color” fil­ter looks like on the iPad in Photo view.


On the iOS plat­form, you can click the mag­ni­fy­ing glass on the top menu to search.


The Android plat­form gives you sev­eral out­put options under its own Sort­ing button.


Each chap­ter and plant — even the app itself — has its own Com­ments sec­tion, which is like a mini-discussion board. Susan is very respon­sive and help­ful in her answers. If a plant or chap­ter con­tains com­ments, you’ll see a link to them if you scroll to the bot­tom of the page. Here’s what a dis­cus­sion looks like on the iPhone — it’s sim­i­lar on the Nexus 7.


Fool­proof Plants for Small Gardens/Plant Picks for Small Gar­dens is a handy ref­er­ence app — the infor­ma­tion con­tained within it is won­der­fully infor­ma­tive, and akin to hav­ing an expe­ri­enced gar­dener over your shoul­der as you cat­a­log shop or visit a local nursery.

Get the app, pick your favorite method to search for plants, ask a ques­tion or two, and finally learn to pro­nounce those Latin names at last.

Mary Ann Lynch
I’m the “Leaf­mas­ter” for Leafport.com — Gar­den apps for mobile devices.
I’m an avid gar­dener and com­puter geek, and com­bine the two hob­bies as often.

– Originally published on LeafPort blog April 15, 2013 by Mary Anne Lynch



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