GREEN THUMBS will be wiggling with delight at the art-themed Philadelphia Flower Show, opening today through March 9 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Feeling the itch yourself? Jump-start your spring growing indoors, with a little help from these cool gizmos.
Parrot Flower Power: If only our plants could share their needs and feelings. They can with this smart plant sensor, designed by the French gadget wizards at Parrot. It’s programmed on and read back on a companion app for Apple iOS tablets and smartphones.
Enter plant info (the database has more than 6,000 plants), then plunge the device into the soil.
After 24 hours of analysis – temperature, soil moisture, nutrient level and daily sun exposure – the Parrot squawks growing hints to your tablet/phone via Bluetooth. Works better with indoor plants than outside, say reviewers. ($59.99 at Amazon.com.)
AeroGarden Ultra: Co-branded with Miracle-Gro, the AeroGarden Ultra ($249.95) is a high-tech, high-output indoor garden for dummies that pretty much runs itself. An LCD-screened My Garden Control panel walks you through the process from planting to harvest. Build your own seed kits or use Miracle-Gro “Plug and Grow” Pod Kits, available for 10 types of salad greens, 20 fresh herbs, 15 flowers and small veggies like cherry tomatoes and jalepenos.
It works with “NASA-proven” soil-free hydroponic technology and has a large reservoir for weeks between waterings.
As the garden grows, raise the AeroGarden’s hood, with its energy-efficient, full-spectrum compact fluorescent grow lights.
_ Good deal: Aerogarden.com is running a 20 percent off sale tied to “National Indoor Gardening Month,” which ends today.
Windowfarm: Got lotsa natural light spilling into your place? Like to hang really big plants in a window? This naturally lit, vertically stacked pole of plant-containing plastic capsules should fill the space nicely.
Uses nutrient-spiked water pumped up from a reservoir at the base of the system. A constantly nourished plant concentrates on growing upward. (Windowfarm one-column starter kit, $199; four-column set, $399, at windowfarms.com. )
Grass Head: Kids (ages 8 and up) will enjoy this “coming soon” educational toy from Geek and Co. Science! (a new division of Thames Kosmos). The pitch: “Grow a friend with soil for brains and grass for hair.”
A companion manual imparts wisdom about the biology of seeds, plants and germination.
The DIY project requires you to wrap the growing medium and seeds in a stretchy pouch, then position it in a plastic body and decorate the works with stickers to create a distinctive character. So really, this green toy owes as much to Mr. Potato Head as Chia-Pet. Thames Kosmos products can be found at the Franklin Institute, Penn Museum and Mutter Museum shops, and the Children’s Boutique on Walnut Street. ($19.95.)
Insect Lore Live Butterfly Kit: Another nature-watching treat for the young ‘uns. Within a large mesh bag habitat, kids observe butterflies evolving through every stage of their life cycle, from eggs to caterpillars and then, after seven to 10 days of eating and evolving, into butterflies which the kids can feed with sugar water.
Insect Lore recommends the Painted Ladies butterflies be released within a week of emergence, when temperatures are above 55 degrees. So wait a few weeks to spring this treat on them ($15.99 at amazon.com).