Click and Grow electronic flowerpot October 2011
Click and Grow flowerpot first look
With claims that its built-in microprocessor, computer software and sensors can look after your plant for you, you might be tempted by this new electronic flowerpot from Click and Grow. Which? Gardening takes a first look to see if it really works.
The Click & Grow electronic flowerpot has been launched this year and is now available to buy online for £49.99.
We bought the starter kit, which includes the flowerpot, a plant cartridge with busy Lizzie seeds, four batteries and instructions. Once you own the starter kit,you can buy additional plant cartridges individually from the Click and Grow website, where they have a selection of different seed cartridges available for £7.07 each.
What does Click and Grow claim?
It's a high-tech, computerised flower pot that grows and looks after your plants for you. You don't need any soil and it’s got a system of sensors, processors and software that control water and fertiliser.
Getting started with the Click and Grow electronic flowerpot
It arrives all set up and ready-to use, with the plant cartridge already in place inside a separate compartment in the centre of the square pot.
The first thing the instructions state that you have to do is to activate the product with the personal activation code included in the instructions, which you enter on the Click and Grow website. We can't see how activating the flowerpot online can control how the flowerpot actually works, and after filling in our details in the activation form we were disappointed to just receive an email listing the known problems that occur with the flowerpot.
Surrounding the plant cartridge compartment is a water reservoir which you need to fill with water, and another compartment where you put the batteries. The batteries power a small water pump within the reservoir to pump water to the top of the plant cartridge.
Click and Grow plant cartridge
The plant cartridge is made from coir, which is a bit like compost. This provides a medium for the plants to put their roots into. The coir block has ordinary slow-release fertiliser granules within it, which slowly release nutrients over a matter of months. We think that these granules are what provides nutrients to the plants, rather than nutrient release being controlled by a computer.
Electronic leaf and water pump
An electronic leaf moisture detector, slots though a gap in the coir block. These are often used in commercial propagation to enable water to be turned on automatically when dry. The leaf looks like a large electronic chip, when the copper bands on it are dry, the water pump is activated to keep the coir wet.
The water pump works in short bursts, pumping water from the reservoir to the top of the plant cartridge.
We found that the pump worked efficiently at first, pumping a little bit of water every five minutes or so into the coir, but it stopped watering before the coir was completely soaked. This resulted in the seeds not getting enough water.
Flowerpot control panel lights
There is a small LED light strip at the front of the planter and it blinks in five different colours depending on what it needs, from adding water to changing the batteries. But it only blinks once every 10 minutes, so you might miss it if you blink at the same time.
Seed germination success rate
Busy Lizzie seeds aren’t the easiest to germinate, but after a few weeks of being in a bright position, we noticed that only about half of the seeds had started to grow.
Looking after your plants
The Click and Grow planter promises to do this for you, but the water pump on our one broke soon after the seeds had germinated, and seedlings soon got too dry and died.
Our verdict of the Click and Grow electric flowerpot
Apart from the electronic leaf (moisture sensor) and water pump, the Click and Grow flowerpot doesn’t seem to be that high-tech.
On close inspection, we found that its main components are nothing more than what you would find in an ordinary flower pot: water, soil (in the form of coir) and slow-release fertiliser granules. The only real difference is that this has a pump to water the soil.
At nearly £50, this is a very expensive flowerpot, and ours stopped working after just one day. It looks nifty, but we reckon you’d have better success sowing seeds the traditional way.