This flower pot has a build in sensor that detects when the dirt inside is dry and lets you know. This uses an ATtiny85 as the brain and copper tape as the sensor. It is powered by 2 AAA batteries. All of the electronic parts can be purchased at http://sfe.io/w90611.


  • Attiny85
  • 4.7 uf Capacitor
  • 47k Resistor
  • 330 Resistor
  • Blue LED
  • 2 AAA batteries and case
  • Copper Tape
  • Flower Pot
  • Plant


  • ATtiny Programer
  • Scissors
  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder

Story About Why I Built This

A long time ago (last week) I decided that I wanted a plant. After shopping around I found this pretty awesome bonsai plant/mini-tree. However I soon discovered that I was horrible at remembering to water it (you can see in some of the photos that the leaves had started to turn yellow). So I decided to revisit an old and never finished project I was working on about soil moisture. (Most of it was following instructions from http://gardenbot.org). However I thought to myself "an arduino is very large for a small mini-tree. I should use an ATtiny." And after some surfing on the web I got inspired from http://highlowtech.org and thought that copper tape would be really cool for the sensor and maybe even the circuit. So I put my thinking cap on and got to work.

Step 1: Program the ATtiny

Go ahead and start by programing the ATtiny. You can follow my other instructable to use the Arduino IDE to program the ATtiny85 chip. If you don't have the amazing Tiny AVR Programmer from Sparkfun.com it is possible to program an ATtiny with an Arduino (my other instructable has a link to how). Once you have the sketch uploaded to the ATtiny go ahead to the next step.

Step 2: Build the Circuit

Now you want to use the copper tape to build the circuit. I found it helpful to tape down an ATtiny so I could see where the pins are.

The distance between the two strips of copper tape used for the sensor is important but I found in testing that it did not make a huge difference. Mine are about 2 cm or 3/4 of an inch apart. They extend a bit more then halfway down the inside of the flower pot. This circuit is prone to electrolysis. You can find out more about this circuit at http://gardenbot.org/howTo/soilMoisture/.

Step 3: Add the Components

Now use needle nose pliers to bend the component legs. After you have the components in the right shape go ahead and tape them down to the flower pot (Keep the circle parts clear as you will be adding solder there). When soldering them to the copper tape I found it best to add solder to the component legs then making the connection to the copper tape. Be careful I've heard that melted plastic fumes can be toxic. Don't forget to add the battery pack to the the back.

Step 4: Add the Plant

Transplant the plant. If you know what my plant is please comment below, I really want to learn more about it. I hope that you found this instructable useful or cool. If you did please vote for me in the contest.

Going Further

I think that it would be really cool to use a 3-d printer to make a flower pot that has a hole for the batteries so that it was weighted evenly and didn't have an akward back.

<p>Hi Peter , Nice work ! can you explain a little about the choose of the capacitor and resistor ,why this values ? Im new in electronics .</p><ul><br><li>4.7 uf Capacitor<li>47k Resistor</ul><p>Thanks !</p>
<p>nice work. have you seen my <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/the-Plant-Doctor-family/" rel="nofollow">setup</a>? what is your battery life like? thank you for sharing!</p>
<p>I like your setup, its very well documented. As for the battery life I haven't had it running long enough to find out. Hopefully it last a while. ATtinys don't take up a lot of juice. </p>
<p>you should let me know if you ever figure out the battery life.. mine dies pretty fast when the wifi is enabled. but i shall solve that soon, maybe a solar pack add-on. btw, i voted for you - good luck !!</p>
<p>Voting for my instructable is now open.</p>
<p>Nicely done!</p><p>Love the bright, clear photos, too! </p>
<p>i dont know what it is but i really like that plant :)</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an eagle scout from Colorado. I like to program, Arduino (if thats a verb) and make cool things. I also like to hike ... More »
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