Picture of The Plant Whisperer
OK, I'll admit it - I tend to kill plants.  I set them on a sunny window sill, give them an initial drink of water, and promptly forget to water them ever again.  Having grown up in a world where objects tend to beep or blink for my attention, the stubborn silence of the average houseplant dooms it to an early death under my care.

But no more!  In an effort to solve this problem, and have a bit of fun at the same time, I created the Plant Whisperer.  This little device measures the soil moisture every two hours, and reports its status to anyone who might be within earshot - that's right, it talks!  The message content depends on the soil condition.  For example, if the soil is too dry, the plant might say, "I'M THIRSTY!  WATER ME!"  If the moisture is okay, it might say "I'M A HAPPY PLANT!" - or maybe something funny like "I SUGGEST YOU BECOME A CARNIVORE."  It is also capable of detecting the ambient light level and commenting on that, as well.

Did I mention the cool retro robot voice?  Yeah, who wouldn't want that on their houseplant?

The Plant Whisperer is based around a Parallax Propeller, which makes real-time text-to-speech easy to implement.  Other major components include a two-channel ADC, a two-hour timer IC, a load switch and an audio amplifier.  In total it costs about $30 to build.

Akin Yildiz made it!6 months ago

great stuff, amazing skills with the circuit board.!! are you familiar with my work.?

it can e-mail you once it is thirsty, cold/hot, asleep etc. - also changes color for nearby users.

it also collects/graphs data on the cloud - the best part is that it is 100% solder free to build.!


thank you for sharing, i really like your posts

Super_Nerd2 years ago
After I downloaded 12 blocks from the link you gave, my antivirus said it was "WS.Reutation.1" and automatically removed it. Is the program safe or do I need to use a different link?
jeff-o (author)  Super_Nerd2 years ago
I'm afraid you'll need to contact the creator of 12blocks about that! I got no virus warnings way back when I downloaded, but it has been updated a few times since then. Good luck!
Ok, thanks.
mihir19904 years ago
hey look i just want to make a very basic model of this one....its like using a humidity sensor and two diff buzzers and one atmega 32 or sumthn..
so i can use a internal ADC of that and thru programmin set the conditions and make the buzzer work......!!!
Super_Nerd4 years ago
Crazy idea popped into my head. The plant calls you or sends an e-mail when you neglect it for a long time.


Hmm I'll go check my e-mail

*E-mail from Mr.Plant@plant.net*

"I'm thirsty!"


*Waters plant*
jeff-o (author)  Super_Nerd4 years ago
Not so crazy! Do a search for "botanicalls". ;)
nice project really cool
Do you no how 2 make a decibel reader???
jeff-o (author)  cuteblondchick4 years ago

Nope, I don't know how to make a decibel reader. Have you looked here on Instructables, or on Google?
janw4 years ago
Fantastic project! I need to make on of those immediately!
jeff-o (author)  janw4 years ago
Great, I can't wait to hear a plant speaking Dutch! I'm working on a minor update to the pcb though, so wait a day or two before you start.
janw jeff-o4 years ago
I'll sent you Dutch lines hehe
omg i have been looking for something like this for a while. but this is too much for me. i was wondering though could you make a simpler one that just flashes LEDS or changes color to represent the moisture. ( red LED for to dry, blue LED for too wet, & green LED for just right. i would really appreciate it. or any help.
jeff-o (author)  flamming arrow4 years ago
Well, you can buy those at any hardware store if you want one right away...

What are you able to build? Can you make your own circuit boards?
well i havent really seen anything like what i want in stores. and i've never made my own circuit boards before but i can learn how. if you have a circuit for something like this i would like to see it and i would definitely try to make it.
jeff-o (author)  flamming arrow4 years ago
Well, the PCB file you need is on step 1. You'll need Cadsoft Eagle (www.cadsoft.de) to open, view and print it. Have you soldered surface mount parts before?
hey, i haven't done surface mount soldering before but i don't have to now because i was at a store and as i was looking around i found a science kit for something similar. so thanks for trying to help and mabye ill put up a picture or something.
jeff-o (author)  flamming arrow4 years ago
Sure thing. Hmmm, perhaps you can hack your kit to do something extra!
mbonnin4 years ago
Really nice project ! I didn't know about these propeller chips, look interesting.
But how do you generate audio out levels ? I can see P19 is connected to the audio amplifier but P19 is CMOS levels, no ? Or is there a DAC inside the propeller ? Or do you count on something like PWM ?
jeff-o (author)  mbonnin4 years ago
Yup, it's PWM. At 80 MHz, the propeller can generate a pretty smooth PWM output. It can even generate video!
unanw14 years ago
Bless You. I am a fellow plant killer. I have a black thumb. Now I can go out and buy a plant (as soon as I make your Plant Whisperer) without planticid gilt.
Thank you so much,
From Black Thumb
jeff-o (author)  unanw14 years ago
Great! I plant to upgrade the firmware as I make improvements to the text-to-speech. Check back often!
Jayefuu jeff-o4 years ago
Ha. Bad pun or typing error?
unanw1 Jayefuu4 years ago
If you mean the planticid, it was a weak play on homicide of a plant. I am not sure if that is really a pun, but it was not a typing error.
Nope - it was in reference to jeff-o the author saying "Great! I plant to upgrade "
instead of "Great! I plan to upgrade " - plant instead of plan :)
jeff-o (author)  AgeingHippy4 years ago
Haha, awesome! I totally missed that, but I won't change it now (not that I can, without deleting the post).
garelek4 years ago
Jayefuu4 years ago
Love the shape Jeff. Changing the silk of your name to a curve would totally complete it. Nice work!
ecosburn4 years ago
Ooooh, finally I could own something that isn't cactus-like!
jeff-o (author)  ecosburn4 years ago
Perhaps some aloe, or a venus fly trap!
ecosburn jeff-o4 years ago
Or, dare I say it, an orchid!
jeff-o (author)  ecosburn4 years ago

Actually, I saw a few nice ones at Lowe's when I was buying dirt. If I hadn't already bought the plant, I would have bought one of those.
Way too complicated for me to make, but this is really cool.
jeff-o (author)  MrBrownThumb4 years ago
Not a beginner project, it's true. But thanks!