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High Tech Gardening Help

By Donnetta Wilhelm, Colorado Master Gardener

As a child, I would run my finger across the spines of the 24-volume set of Encyclopedia Britannica books on my grandfather’s bookcase and marvel at the knowledge contained within. Fast forward numerous decades and I run my finger across the yard, garden and insect Apps on my phone—and I still marvel at the knowledge contained within. Being outdoors—whether it’s in the backyard or out in nature—has now gone high tech and with a simple click or swipe we have instant answers about what we see. We’ve compiled a list of some favorite Apps from Colorado Master Gardener volunteers, Horticulture Staff and CSU professionals:



Free, 2013. Identify plants by snapping a photo. Photos are also collected and analyzed by scientists to better understand plant biodiversity. Works well for all plants: flowers, trees, grasses, conifers, vines, cacti and weeds.


Free, with In-App premium purchases available, 2013. An image-matching App that can recognize 90% of all known species of plants and trees. From Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution.

Garden Answers

Free with In-App purchases available, 2013. An easy-to-use App that can identify over 20,000 plants and provides useful information on the plant.


ID Weeds

Free, 2018. Developed by the University of Missouri. A true key App (not image-matching) that can identify more than 430 weeds, weedy grasses and turfgrass.


Free, 2014. Popular image-recognition App. Works very well for dicot weeds, with or without flowers and works well on grassy weeds. Bonus: not only identifies plants, but also identifies animals. Good for citizen science and sharing and recording your own observations.


CO Woody Plants

Free, a new App from CSU in 2019. Identify Colorado’s wide range of shrubs, trees, cacti and woody plants. Search by plant characteristics or name, as well as a favorites section to flag plant data that is most relevant. Can identify more than 200+ species.

EAB/Ash Tree ID

Free, a new App from CSU. Since the identification of Emerald Ash Borer in Boulder in 2013, this App can help determine if a tree is a true Ash and if it can be killed by EAB.


Montana Grasses

$4.99, 2014. From Montana State University, this App identifies more than 250 grasses and grass-like plants commonly found in the Rocky Mountain region. Browse the list or search by 13 sets of characteristics.

Colorado Wildflowers Guide

Free, 2019. A field guide App to more than 500 common flowering plants found in Colorado. Searchable by photo recognition, flower color, time of bloom or location.


Wild Bee ID

Free, 2017. By the Center for Food Safety, created to empower gardeners across the country to actively participate in the conservation of these vital pollinators.


Free, 2018. Created by the Pollinator Partnership, the app covers native plants by zip code and region. Create customized plant lists based on pollinator type, flower color, soil type, sunlight and plant type.

Forest Insect Pests

Free, 2013. Intended to help foresters, urban landscaping employees, or others working with trees recognize some of the common pest insects affecting trees in North America and understand their life cycles and how they damage trees.



Free, 2015. Connect socially with others in your local community. Designed for plant enthusiasts and gardeners to share photos and videos of plants, gardens, local gardening projects and find where to buy plants locally.

Gardening Companion

Free, 2015. This App can help track your garden’s progress, set reminders to help you care for your plants, provide informational articles and helpful videos and allow you to share your garden with online friends.

Finally, if all else fails and I can’t find what I’m looking for in the millions of gardening, pollinator, weed, ID & insect apps available, Encyclopedia Britannica, which printed its last edition in 2010, is now an App!

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