New apps put gardening solutions at tips of users' fingers

June 3, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - New mobile apps by Purdue Extension specialists can guide home gardeners in the proper care of their plants with the help of treatment methods based on proven research.

The Annual Flower Doctor and Perennial Flower Doctor apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch can help home gardeners with dozens of problems for more than 200 plants. The apps are available for 99 cents each.

"Every year, homeowners invest millions of dollars in their landscaping materials, and due to insect diseases and sometimes a lack of experience, problems come up. This is an affordable and efficient way to fix those problems," said Janna Beckerman, a Purdue Extension plant disease specialist and content specialist for the apps. "You just pull it out of your pocket and have answers right away."

The apps build on Purdue Extension knowledge, using more than 400 high-quality photos that allow users to match 200 different plants with thousands of plant problems. The problems are ordered based on how common they are in Midwest gardens and yards. Once diagnosed, the apps guide users through methods to manage affected plants.

Many comparable apps are sponsored or developed by companies that produce gardening chemicals or products. Cliff Sadof, a Purdue Extension entomologist and content specialist for the apps, said those apps tend to suggest particular products, whereas Purdue's apps are focused on research-based treatment methods.

"We start with the least toxic approaches before we suggest using insecticides or fungicides," Sadof said. "We want to teach people how to treat the underlying problems before turning to chemical solutions."

Beckerman said the apps could appeal to those who believe they lack a "green thumb" or haven't tested their skills to find out.

"We hope this appeals to a generation who is used to using technology like this to help get them into gardening," she said.

The information contained in the apps is not Web-based but on the devices after the apps are downloaded. Once they are downloaded, the information is available to users without mobile reception or wireless Internet connections.

The perennials app is available for download at

The annuals app can be downloaded at

Beckerman and Sadof last year collaborated to release the Tree Doctor app, which covers 175 problems homeowners might have with 60 types of trees in the Midwest and Northeast.

The Android version of the Purdue Tree Doctor is expected to be released soon. The Flower Doctor apps will follow soon after that in the Android store. Beckerman and Sadof said apps are in the works for shrubs, tomatoes and other food crops.

Contact: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722,

Sources: Janna Beckerman, 765-494-4628,

Cliff Sadof, 765-494-5983, 

Related websites:

Purdue Department of Botany and Plant Pathology

Purdue Department of Entomology

Purdue Plant Doctor

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

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