Ornamental sweet potato Marguerite

Ornamental sweet potato "Marguerite"

MARTHA SMITH, U OF I EXTENSION

Anyone who knows me can attest this horticulturist loves her garden books, but out in nature or at a garden center I use my phone to look up information. However, when you are spending money on apps, you want to know if they are worth the money.

These three apps not only are worth the money but invaluable to gardeners and nature enthusiasts:

Armitage’s Great Gardening Plants

Allen Armitage is a writer, teacher and researcher of landscape perennial plants. He is revered by educational and industry professionals. His research has produced many introductions, most notably sweet potato '‘Margarita,'’ a vining plant that boasts a plethora of glowing chartreuse leaves.

The best part about Armitage’s app is his candor and humor in describing why his favorite plants make the list. After tapping the options button (three horizontal lines), the app allows you to choose from categories from shrubs to annuals.

My favorite category is "Weird and Wonderful" plants for those that are sure to be especially distinctive. This app will help your garden aptitude, because it will help you place the right plant in the right spot.

Audubon Guide to Wildflowers

The Audubon Society is charged with conservation of those beloved winged creatures we hope will visit our gardens: birds. Audubon provides apps on birds, trees, wildflowers, mammals, owls and mushrooms; sometimes they are sold in bundles.

The wildflowers menu allows you to search and identify flowers by shape, family or name. The app menu provides a tutorial under "All About Wildflowers," with flower descriptions and range of the flower. If you creating a username and password, app users can contribute to citizen scientist efforts by submitting a sighting.

Id Weeds

Id Weeds is an app produced by the plant sciences division of the University of Missouri. This app uses a question tree to identify weeds in your landscape and turf. The app user clicks on picture choices (grass vs. broadleaf, leaf arrangements, leaf shapes, flower color, so on). Choose as many answers as you can. The results list displays multiple images and descriptions of the potential weed in question.

Kelly Allsup is the University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator in Livingston, McLean and Woodford counties.

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