Raspberry Pi Pico W lets your houseplant text you

Sandeep Mistry has done what many of us houseplant lovers wish we could do: talk to our botanical buddies. Sandeep’s potted pal, Mark the Plant, has a personality and can send texts thanks to Raspberry Pi Pico W and Pimoroni’s Grow Kit.

Video from hackster.io

Pico W pairs perfectly with the Grow Kit to keep Sandeep informed of Mark the Plant’s feelings, ideas, hopes, and dreams. The Grow Kit is a cool piece of kit, a compact monitoring system designed to help you take the best possible care of your plants. It will tell you how well they’re hydrated, attract your attention when they need water and, if you want to go a step further, even give them water! It’s a match made in horticultural heaven.

Kit list

How does it work?

Twilio Programmable SMS API, running on Pico W, is responsible for sending the SMS messages to Sandeep’s phone. It’s free to use; you just need to create an account and verify the phone number you want it to text.

Mark the plant with the personality
I wonder whether Mark got to choose his own name

Pimoroni’s Grow Kit comes with moisture sensors so Raspberry Pi Pico W can tell when Mark the Plant is thirsty. MicroPython code keeps an eye on the sensors, and on Mark the Plant’s surroundings. All hardware is powered via USB, so there’s no need for it to be attached to anything else, and the code runs automatically once everything is powered on.

Sandeep’s project post contains wiring diagrams, a step-by-step software installation guide, and detailed assembly instructions to show you exactly how to wire up Pico W with the other parts.

Just some of Mark the Plant’s hilarious jokes

If you want to have a go at replicating Sandeep’s project, and you don’t have a Mark the Plant of your own, then Pimoroni also do herb- and chilli-growing versions of their Grow Kit. They come with lots of extras, and everything you need including the seeds, pots, and even soil.

Upgrade ideas

Sandeep is thinking of harnessing the on-board light sensor on the Grow HAT Mini, the board at the heart of the Grow Kit, so Mark the Plant can text him “good morning” and “good night”. At the moment Mark the Plant never bothers to do this because he is ungrateful and rude.

But you could go further than that and add an automatic watering system using one of Pimoroni’s mini water pumps and some tubing. That way Mark the Plant can take care of his own watering, and Sandeep can go back to making more cool projects.

And if you want to get REALLY ambitious, Pimoroni has a whole range of new Pico W-compatible environmental kits. Including a full weather station, so you can take good care of your plant friend even if you move them outside.

No houseplant will ever top the electric personality of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors

Sandeep is a principal software engineer at Arm and has made lots of Raspberry Pi-based projects. He created this wonderful sentient houseplant in honour of our brand new Pico W board. Follow @ArmSoftwareDev to keep up with what the team builds next.

1 comment

Mike avatar

I love the Pico W – the possibilities are endless. Thanks for the inspiration Sandeep. I look forward to geeking out with some IoT projects myself.

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