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Please take care of my plant (pleasetakecareofmyplant.com)
659 points by mooreds 8 days ago | hide | past | web | 179 comments | favorite

I made a self-watering flower pot with an arduino, a moisture sensor and a small pump once. Worked like a charm. Well, until I forgot to put water in the reservoir, that is. I suppose I could hook it up to water mains, but I couldn't be bothered.

The plants we have at home are 'trained' properly so they can survive with an intermittent splash of water every now and then. At the office we have hydroculture and a gardener that takes care of them.

Toilet has an automatically refilling water tank. Now all you need is a hose!

Just add a low-water sensor and loud buzzer.

Same comment, I'd like to know more about the setup if possible. I have an old arduino (1st gen) lying somewhere.

I have a similar setup but it also has an esp8266 hooked up that sends data to thingspeak. It then communicates with Pushbullet that notifies me to water the plants.

I had it hooked up to internet with an ethernet shield so that it tweeted when the water level was low. That proved to be not very practical, as network cables are pretty rigid and ugly, and the plant had to be in the vincinity of a network socket. At that time, I couldn't be bothered anymore and I made something else.

Reminds me of Telegarden by Ken Goldberg in 1995 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telegarden.

This + Twitch Plays Pokemon was what I had in mind when I made this :)

The wikipedia entry appears to be spectacularly short of information on the sheer level of griefing on Twitch plays Pokemon. Just hope that 4chan doesn't find your plant.

Unless his system has vulnerabilities that lead to his personal network or other information, the worst they can do is dry his plant to death, which is obviously an expected outcome. I don't think they are that concerned

It's more likely to get drowned, but I still feel sorry for the poor plant.

That subreddit is super lively.. they've named the plant Jeff!


I find the thought of naming a plant funny :D

I wonder what Jeff's doing tonight :D

Oh shit, the overwatch players are going come and kill it then.

Why would they want to kill it? I thought if you wrestle with Jeff, prepare for death?

Sadly because if something can be abused, it eventually will be.

It's been over a year, the crowd is good

Throw some ML on there no need for humans

Pessimistic; most Reddit social experiments have been pretty positive in the end.

They should not bite Jeff, thats for sure (unless they enjoy the feeling of excruciating pain).

The masses completed a pokemon game. So a plant should be no problem. :)


The masses have even installed Arch.


I thought the masses created a botfarm and derailed it by typing profanity or something?

the botfarm tried to install gentoo

Maybe too low-tech for HN, but I just do the watering myself. Using Arduinos and moisture sensors is a lot of fun, but not practical when you have more than a couple plants. Most common indoor plants require infrequent watering in the first place, and when they need it I also take the opportunity to inspect them for anything that needs to be pruned.

> Most common indoor plants require infrequent watering in the first place

I have still somehow struggle to do this properly consistently over the years. I feel like you're downplaying a real common household issue that people have.

If this automation was cheaper/easier then there might be a real product here. I have seen self-watering pots in stores but they were far too expensive and not adaptable to any plant/pot.

I may look into this DIY solution as a side-project myself...

Hmm, what if you had a self contained module that used a de-humidifier as a water source.

Maybe, but to me that's a lot of complexity for such a simple chore. I have over a dozen house plants and it only takes me a few minutes to water everything and I find it to be a pretty relaxing activity.

Having strangers on the internet deciding whether or not to water your plant is a wonderful social experiment, though!

Next, someone should do a social experiment to let strangers on the internet decide whether a person is fed.

This might get way to dark way too fast :)

> Maybe, but to me that's a lot of complexity for such a simple chore.

What if you connected it to solar panels? Surely that would make it easier. And put a lamp above the solar panels just in case the plant needs watering at night.

I think my approach would be:

  - take care of the plant as usual
  - accumulate data (ie. data points you're providing to viewers)
  - Now you have a rough idea where the data points SHOULD be,
    and thus can automate the watering.

Isn’t that just machine learning?

I love how machine learning has acquired the 'just' modifier.

It's more a question of why the person wrote out all the steps rather than saying they were going to use a clustering algorithm.

I always wanted to do something like that to let people entertain my cat using a small wheeled robot as a mouse, then exporting video and direction/speed controls on a web page.

that would be interesting to see/interact with remotely. I can help you with the project if you are interested in doing it....

Be sure to have Twitch users control it

Also, this same link with this same title was posted maybe 4 hours ago. I was probably the only commenter and upvoter because the thread seems to have been deleted, which is against the HN rules.

threads with comments can't even be deleted, and it is still there: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15452656

Thank you.

Looks like this has been working for over a year according to reddit [0].

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/takecareofmyplant/comments/4utcv2/t...

I'm really happy this exists

This project could be turned into a programming competition:

Start with (ideally) identical plants and conditions. After one year, find the program that did the best job (judging by the resulting plant).

Next: Adapt the code for different types of plants/flowers.

Not everything can be automatized though. I believe a good gardener need constant interaction with the plants. I grew a few cannabis plants and I had to learn a lot in order to do it well (and I think I only scratched the surface). Watering is the easiest thing to do, but you also need to be able to provide the right nutrients, constantly check your plants for diseases or bug infections, and provide the right care if needed. Besides, even seeds from the same strain can evolve differently. Indoor growing is even more fascinating as you have even more control on your growing environment (you can even choose your light spectrum). Growing a plant is a great scientific experiment, it covers a lot of fields.

In that case the computer's task could be persuading humans to perform the things it's unable to.

That exists already. http://www.getgardenspace.com

Does anybody know what moisture sensor he's using?

I emailed him asking to post the information on supplies page of the website

This was posted in response to Ask HN: What non-work task have you automated?


That plant is in good shape now but needs rain water, not tap/faucet.

Why? I've never heard that.

Tap water often contains high levels of minerals, and over time they precipitate in the dirt the plant grows in. Mostly calcium, which is useless to plants anyway.

As they accumulate, the pH of the dirt increases, until the concentration is higher than that of the inside of the roots and osmosis stops working, and the plant cannot absorb nutrients anymore.

Then usually, it starts showing signs of nutrient deficiency, so the first idea the gardener gets is too give them fertilizer, which increases the concentration even more and makes the problem worse.

Rain water is very poor in minerals and acidic and doesn't cause this problem. It's also possible to just use rain water from time to time, to leach out the minerals in the dirt. Another solution I've heard when using tap water is to always pour it until it flows from below, and throw away the water in the saucer, it helps prevent the accumulation from water going in and never out and never having a chance to leach out minerals.

Some plants (most common houseplants like this one) can tolerate elevated levels of minerals, so I don't think it's really a problem here.

I was taught to change the dirt every spring, before the main growth season. My plants seem to like it, or at least that doesn't lead to any deaths.

Not sure about the US but in some places in Europe tap water severely lacks minerals compared to rain water.

I think you have it backwards. Rain water, as it falls from the sky, has essentially no minerals in it.

Water acquires minerals by flowing through soil and permeable rock.

Some new drinkwater installations in the Netherlands use membrane filtering to clean the water so thoroughly that it's not actually potable anymore, they have to add calcium (and maybe other minerals?) back in.

How hard your water is differs by region. In the US as well as in Europe.

Potting mix sometimes has slow release fertiliser in it, or you'd buy some that's suited to your plant. That's all the food you need.

Definitely not the case in the US. Our water is full of minerals which is often a serious issue as it makes showers very hard to clean. It also means an increase in kidney stones (my mom just went through this and the reasoning from the doctor was all of the minerals in the water so she used a "zero" pitcher to filter it all out)

Saying the U.S. here is probably a bit of a generalization. I've lived in a few states without a very hard to clean shower or kidney stones. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't drink tap water now, but I did for over a decade before the bottled trend.

I gotta believe that drinking tap water is really low on the list of reasons people get kidney stones. I'd think drinking virtually anything OTHER than water is a more likely cause..

I still drink tap water regularly although I lean towards the fridge water dispenser and the cooler at work because I like cold water.

Kentucky's bluegrass area (where my mother is) is entirely lime stone. Lime stone happens to dissolve trivially in water along with anything held in it. This was literally what the doctor told her and isn't hard to believe[1]. From that article, """Median values of TDS were found below the SMCL of 500 mg/L, but outliers were common, especially in the Bluegrass (Figure 34)."""

She has to get one of the Zero filters[2] which removes virtually all TDS[3] and measures it using a little TDS meter. Parts of the bluegrass are super high (> 500 TDS) and they happen to be in that part. I believe it is very low in most the united states for sure, but not where my family is from (I live in Chicago currently) :)

[1] http://water.ky.gov/groundwater/Documents/BMU2_NPS_report3.p... [2] https://www.zerowater.com/ [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_dissolved_solids

We live in the far western Chicago suburbs. When we moved here we got our water from a community well (operated by our town.) The water was very hard and in addition had a lot of sulfur and iron. (A water heater would change the sulfur compounds so they smelled like rotten eggs.) IIRC the hardness was about 450 ppm. I installed an ion exchange water softener that fed the hot water heater and cold water to the laundry. We continued to drink hard water and use it for cooking.

Some years later we were switched to a supply that was piped from Lake Michigan. That was about 135 ppm hardness and did not have the sulfur and iron content. Didn't need the water softener any more but we still use a water filter pitcher to remove chlorine and bad flavors from the water. (The filtering activity of zebra mussels clarified Lake Michigan and allowed algae to grow at the depths where the water intakes were located. The algae left a musty taste in the water at times of the year when it flourished.)

Even in the same location, water chemistry can vary a lot.

> Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't drink tap water now

What changed your mind?


I live in Southern California and drink out of the tap all the time. Just stick your head under and drink.

I guess this is being downvoted because of this 2002 study, vs the Japanese studies? http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/water_heal/medical1/1-water...

"Any correlation between water hardness, or the drinking water calcium or 14 magnesium level, and the incidence of urolithiasis was not found in the last vast USA epidemiological study with 3270 patients (Schwartz et al, 2002). The quoted Japanese studies did not find that the water calcium or magnesium levels alone had an effect on the incidence of urolithiasis but did find that the Mg to Ca ratio had: ..."

This because kidney stones are composed of oxalate + calcium, and is really hard to avoid calcium, but some people have trouble w/ oxalate. Its present in beans, dark green leaves like spinach, many fruits, etc

Many people are unaware that standard hot water heaters concentrate minerals, too, and are not intended for drinking water. My parents and in-laws fill their water kettles from the hot water tap, even though filtered water is available.

I thought it was common knowledge that hot water from the tap wasn't drinkable, but here in France the reason I have always heard is that bacteria tend to develop in the hot water storage tanks (which are set to around 60°C usually, not hot enough to prevent their development).

Wow, I was sure you were wrong when I read this but it looks like you're right. Though the reasoning here is a little different from how I interpreted your comment. It's not that the heaters concentrate minerals by, say, evaporating some of the water, it's that hot water simply dissolves lead from pipes more easily than cold water.https://mobile.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/health/29real.html

But that's not concentrating anything at all.

"Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation? Fluoridation of water?"

I made similar thing; "Take care of my Rat(Flash)" also it's open sourced! www.neelkadia.com/feedmyflash

This seems ethically dubious at best, and inhumane at worst.

We feel ya bro! Still here on my right shoulder, eat peanuts and looking at your comment.

PS : It's all between me and flash.

I hope he uses that project to train a neural network that can takes care of his plant in the future ;-)

The pi could use a little speaker and play some music for the plant? :)

Well on that subject, what would be the ideal plant playlist?

"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" - Marvin Gaye

Plantasia by Mort Garson!

I think this is over engineering. It is cool, but I am not sure if it is practically needed. 1. If you come back home everyday then you can yourself check the watering requirements. 2. If you go out for a couple of weeks, you could ask/get from somewhere the watering requirements of the plant and then give it water at fixed intervals. I think that will work too. 3. The amount of time you spent on doing this, in that time you could honestly learn about watering requirements of plants. And that is something different to know compared to knowing how to write cool code.

> I think this is over engineering.

Obviously. That's why it is funny.

I wish there was a tech/engineering equivalent to "That's the joke" for circumstances like these.

Perhaps the point of all this was not watering the plant, but the engineering itself? Looks like a very fun and inspiring thing to do, I'd love to do some of that one day just to learn the electronics.

The social experiment is also very interesting in itself.

Coolest thing I've seen in a while :)

I'm scared, have you even seen plants vs. zombies? Hoping Open AI takes a serious look at this one. [Levity -> Serious]: Imagine that this was applied to animals or even humans?

are you associated at all with Nest? also, this is really cool. good tutorial model for automated growing perhaps.

I am not, but I do very much like the nest cam.

how do you measure the soil moisture? I didnt see anything in supplies and both graphs didnt had anything.

Others have linked the gadget he's using. But I'm wondering if a scale would work at least as well. They might be cheaper/more precise/not subject to local variations in the soil.

And when the plant grows?

> And when the plant grows?

Great question. I build something similar without a moisture sensor, the key to obtaining proper data is to know (and control) the exact amount of water you elect to distribute.

The self-learning (ghetto A.I) software that I wrote would try to predict the next (optimal) watering event. You can start to tell how much weight the water adds and how fast the plant consumes it after a couple of iterations. Plus the soil will usually outweigh a plant by a considerable margin.

Ghetto A.I. haha TM

Some interesting things to look into maybe? Temp, humidity, pressure, maybe put the plant in a transparent pot and flash a light through it (what?)

I don't know I've connected a solar cell to the web and have been gathering data cool to see/check while at work.

the best time to water your plants is in the morning ...

Make a feature request !

This sounds like the most hypocrytical thing to do. Killing dozens of plans just to keep one small plant alive.

Rainforests are being destroyed to mine different metals. We need oil to create plastics. Coal is burned to generate electricity to run factories. After your devices were made in Asia, they must be transported across the globe on huge ships burning diesel fuel. People are ready to sacrifice such ecological damage just to have a small toy in their apartment. I hope that you realise, that having a small plant has no contribution to the environment.

don't start with the moral consistency, you'll just make yourself sad. Its not really possible to live in the modern world and be consistent like that. Almost every act you do here destroys the planet. To remain ethically consistent requires either living on a kibbutz or an incredible depth of research about every aspect of your existence that consumes so much of your time that you become drastically less efficient then the people that don't care and drastically outnumber you.

For example: every time you take time out to save remember the student flat my brother once lived in where they didn't bother de-frosting the freezer and just left it open, forever trying to freeze the world. We try to save water in our house yet three doors down the guy who washes his car leaves his hose running for ~30 minutes every now and then. How can I hate the people of the world that do that when its permitted as a norm? When the developing world has a burgeoning population poised to make those same mistakes again? Its a very sad problem of scale. I'm not saying don't try, more just try not to mad at people when our culture enables it so.

Let this person have their silly blog. The problems are so fundamental in our society that this represents some of the least harm. We should focus on regulation and culture instead. For example the 40% of food waste that the EU practices is an example of an institutional problem worth the effort because the gains are immense.

I am not saying that you should kill yourself to preserve the environment :D But the question is if each act, that you do and destroys a planet, is really worth it. I think, that governments currently don't give it an adequate attention by creating proper laws, so it is up to people to think about it.

Here in the EU, you have to pay for the electricity and for the water, so people are not keeping freezers or taps open. You have to pay for the food as well, I never heard about your 40 %.

The 40% is to keep supermarkets stocked. Isn't it weird that in supermarkets you can always get what you want? That availability MEANS that there is a huge amount of waste because when someone doesn't buy it, it spoils (this is why France passed the law to force supermarkets to give food to the homeless). The 40% was from an EU report into it a couple of years ago. AFAIK we still (we definitely used to do this, not sure if we still do) dump excess agricultural output into the freaking ocean as opposed to crashing the international markets by dumping our surplus there. All of that waste is INSANE.

It doesn't matter if you have to pay for electricity and water because you can easily earn enough money to leave both the lights and taps on all day. That doesn't make it right.

The point is that if we start calling other people hypocrites that road leads to the realisation that everyone in the west is a degree of hypocrite. We're in this together to a greater or lesser extent.

I expected you to show me a link to this 40%. I guess it is the food that is not even harvested from fields. I realy doubt that 40% of food in the supermarkets is thrown away.

It does matter a lot if electricity and water is free. It would be wasted much more if it was free.

I think it is important to call people hypocrits to make them think about what they do. We are in this together, so we must explain stuff to one another.

I think pot is calling kettle black. Its a shade and its worth remembering that when we tut we are tutting at someone being worse than us as opposed to them being bad and us good. We're all bad though.

Its up to you whether you want to believe me or not, you have access to Google. We do apparently waste up to 40% and IIRC it was a pretty official report. You don't even need to verify it though, its logical, just think about the process of supermarket food availability. The design of that process is both bourgeois and wasteful by design. We eat fruit and vegetables OUT OF SEASON all year round. Its weird if a supermarket doesn't have what we want in stock. We have black rubbish bins. Just think about all of that and realise that as a society we're inherently wasteful.

If we genuinely cared then we wouldn't live in a world like we do.

"there is no ethical consumption under capitalism"

In my opinion not a very good idea.

You could spend way less money using humidity sensors and capillarity, which is the best way to water plants.

I have my plats watered this way, an arduino knows the humidity of plants and water deposit levels and just fills the deposit, or calls me if there is an emergency(something is wrong and deposit is empty or too much humidity).

My plants(including trees) are wealthier and stronger than ever, even better than drip irrigation.

The problem with capillarity is that the level of the deposit controls the pressure so it has to remain the same.

I think you've missed the point.

It's equal parts social experiment - technological solution to his plant watering woes.

Care to open-source your setup ? :)

Not a very good idea? Even if it's not the simplest scientific solution for the success of the plant, it's still a fantastic idea.

The beauty, and intrigue, of this solution is the community that is formed, enabled by the use of technology, to solve a problem together collectively.

> The beauty, and intrigue, of this solution is the community that is formed, enabled by the use of technology, to solve a problem together collectively.

How is this problem solving? They're basically voting whether or not the plant gets watered a day. A simple humidity sensor / specialized algorithm for the plant type could make better decisions.

Kids learn robotics by building little robots that drive in circles. Just because something is trivial to you doesn’t mean it is to everyone else. And even if there’s an easier way, you learn by building. You don’t just learn a programming language by reading the docs...

I wasn't talking about the author of the experiment. I was talking about the people who are "solving a problem" together. They're not solving a problem, because there is no problem. They're participating in a social experiment.

> wealthier and stronger than ever Whoever said money doesn't grow on trees? lol

I once agreed to take care of a friend's plant while they were overseas - it was a terrifying day-to-day experience. Don't ask your friends to look after a plant.

We often ask a relatives to water plants, they just come in twice during 2 weeks and water them, not a rocket science really. No dead plants yet.

Try that with bonsai

True that. We didn't even manage a bonsai by ourselves.

Yep, same here. Bought a bonsai, fertiliser and tiny scissors for the little fella. Didn't even last a month under my management. I wonder what kind of care those trees require. Now I just opted for a few cactuses, they seem fine.

How so?

As someone with plants and with a friend who looks after them when we're away, I understand this completely.

Plants need a schedule to do well and some are very sensitive if they get too much or too little water too often or too late.

A two or three of our plants died while the friend was looking after them in the past due to under watering (and we were gone for only about a week every time). So last time when we came back we found most pots were flooded with water, which to most plants is just as bad as not being watered.

It's only now that I think about how this small favour we ask of our friend can be stressful to him.

Education is key. Either find a friend that know how to care for plants, and teach them your plants needs, or find a friend that want to learn it. Watering plants can be the same as caring for someones cat. I mean this in the best way, because a plant is not something you can just water willy nilly and expect it to be fine, unless it's a hardy plant, in which case it'll survive a week without watering anyway.

You could also leave instructions, just like you would for a cat: - water N times per day, use this cup to this measure. - check the soil; if it's moist, do/don't water (don't use these instructions, I have no clue about plants :))

I second this. Just help your friend help you.

How complex are your cats?

With mine it always boils down to

* feed half a can per cat twice a day

* $pickyCat prefers this stack of cans

* feed $lessPickyCat separate so he can't steal the other one's food

Unlike plants, cats don't randomly die because you fed them an hour late or because they had to skip a meal two days ago.

Dog people say cats are evil but some plants just seem to be intent on killing themselves.

You're right -- the cats themselves are pretty durable (other than my ancient 18 year old Cat A). For me, the instructions are less for the cats themselves, as it is preventing the mess they will make at times.

- Refill all four water containers - Give them large, heavy dishes full of water because Cat A likes to Knock Shit Over to see if there's water in there. (My hardwood floor has a damaged section because of this: OK if cleaned up fast, not OK if left over the weekend in hot weather.) - Mix in treats so that cat A eats all of her food - Cats B and C like to eat Cat A's food, so feed her in a separate room, then open the door 5 minutes later.

Have you experimented with different brands for Cat A? Mixing in treats seems like the least healthy option long term. I've had good success with Applaws.

I guess you're right, and I did try to leave some instructions, but we have lots of plants and I didn't want it to become too complicated so I tried to group plants that need similar care together and highlight the sensitive ones.

I believe the friend is eager to learn and loves plants himself, but but maybe finding a friend who doesn't kill their own plants would be a good start...

What plants die in under a week of slight negligence?

The answer you're after is: "many"

But who would buy a plant like that?

I get liking plants, but I don't want their maintenance to be yet another painful chore. I want plants that survive no matter what I do. Fortunately, my plants seem to select themselves based on that criterium.

I have an uncle who waters all his plants every Saturday. Those who survive stay, those who die are tossed. Survival of the fittest in action.

People who _really_ like plants? I am one, and I wouldn't even call myself a hobbyist, just a person who likes plants a lot and doesn't mind having a routine of caring for plants, it's not like it's very difficult: all plants are watered on the weekend, a few are watered once more during the week. Yes, it also involves knowing how much water, but it's pretty much the same all year round (unless there are a few exceptionally hot days in a row during summer, then a bit more).

I have a toddler who loves watering plants. I have no real control over how much water they get.

Why not get plants that love water? Papyrus is one that comes to mind...

They will die as soon as the toddler loses interest.

If you have this line of thinking I think you’ll already be looking at a watering system, or even simple pots with a water reserve. Your needs for friends looking after your plants will already be minimal, and be reduced to asking them to fill the tanks once every three or four weeks.

For me people who need to educate friends about how to deal with their plants are playing on a different field, in a different game altogether (and I’ll flat refuse to deal with kind of PITA)


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimosa_pudica is one example for a plant that has died after not being watered for a few days which let the soil dry. Over-watering would not do good either.

Sure, most plants will not die within a week, but a lot will suffer enough and will take months to recover.

It depends on not just the plant but also on the humidity, temperature, soil type, plant growth, sun exposure and many other things.

Nonlocal plants. Growing a banana in Thailand is a forgiving endeavor. Growing the same banana in Sweden is not.

There are banana growers in Iceland. A banana grown in Iceland costs about 500$ each.

are you talking about the plant itself the massive trees that actually bear fruits?

because my banana plants are by far the most forgiving things i've got (i live in germany). They grow and multiply like crazy and you can never give them too much water.

Going away for two weeks in summer? there might be a little brown after you'll be back, but that hardly matters with the speed they grow.


It's tough to take care of a human infant or a puppy. It's extremely easy to care for a fish or a plant.

Then again, some people can't even be responsible for themselves.

No, it was genuinely stressful! I forget the name of the plant now, but too much sun and it would die. Too little sun, same result. Move it the wrong way and, yep you guessed it, death. And that's before we even get to the watering requirements!

We have one plant in our household, no other plants have survived. It lives in my living room and I have no idea what kind of plant it is. It had long thin leaves, each one is about 10 to 15cm long and 1cm wide and long thin woody stems.

We water it randomly, at one stage we estimate we forgot to water it for around 6 months. Other times due to a lack of communication we have both watered it multiple times in a week. It appears to be invulnerable to poor watering discipline.

Currently it is living in direct sunlight but it has lived in permanent shade for a extended period as well.

I don't know why I'm telling you this, it probably doesn't help knowing that your friends has high maintenance plants when there are invincible ones like ours in the world as well.

Are you sure it's a real one and not plastic?

This is an excellent observation/question and hilarious at the same time. It could be plastic. I've seen trees in malls with plastic leafs were I had to actually try to rip a leaf to make sure that it was real since they looked so real.

It's a fair question, but I can assure you all it is a real plant and alive. My wife removes old leaves from it 3 or 4 times a year and it grows (very slowly) towards the light if I rotate it.

I want your plant. If you figure out how it is call, then I am buying only those in the future. At this point, I am mass plants killer since they all died eventually under my watch.

I have a rubber tree (ficus elastica) and it seems quite invincible. Got it from my grandmother about 15 years ago, it spent three years in my dad’s smoke-filled room and has moved three or four times. Right now there’s direct sunlight in spring and fall and a radiator right next to it in winter. Watering is so-and-so, easily lasts a week to a month without any water.

If I forget to water, some leaves will turn yellow but quickly recover once water is available again.

Oh, and it had half of it sawn off at one point because it grew too large, the other half is now also a very presentable little plant.

A little research has revealed it is a Dragon Plant (Draceana marginata).

Apparently all of the Draceana family are easy to look after.

Dracaena marginata

I used to have one of those, but even that didn't survive my erratic watering regime... It did outlast all my other plants, though, except for two small cact<i|uses>.

Worse even, the manual was missing and the specs weren't clearly defined!

You sure your friends weren't joking? This sounds like a "ask for tartan paint" style joke that get's played on interns/apprentices.

It sounds like many plants that are not common house plants, actually. The first that comes to my mind is cacao, for example, or many orchids too.

The problem with plant caring is that dogs and babies with respond to you, ask for food or water, cry, etc. Plants have a long response time and by the time you see leaves curling or turning colors, it could be too late.

I think the problem happens when you don't know the plant. I also have some trouble until I know how the plant looks when it's happy and how it changes when it's not. It's a very small difference in some cases, but if you look at it every day you just.. know after some time.

Apart from the supposedly easy one I have that is always unhappy no matter what I do. And yet it refuses to die, it only.. almost dies. For years now.

Don't generalize fish and plants, they are all not that easy to care for. I grow aquatic plants and raise lots of aquatic species, none of which are that simple.

I don't know about that. My friend tried to care for a couple Bonsai trees and they did not do too great.

Researching after the fact, we discovered that some species are notoriously difficult to care for.

hmmm, time to register pleasetakecareofmykids.com

That would line up with the rest of our social development...

1990: Stranger danger! Look out for creeps perving on you from the bushes!

2000: This new webcam is neat but don't let your kids use it, someone could hack it and perv on them!

2015: Hello random internet stranger, please observe and interact with my kids while I do other things!


1990: Stranger danger! Don't get into strange cars!

2000: Internet stranger danger! Don't give anyone on the internet your real name or contact details!

2015: Here's a handy app which gives your contact details to an internet stranger so they can pick you up in their car!

No mention of ChatRoulette in the first list?

Damn, there should have been!

1990 - 2010 : Don't trust user input

2016 - 20?? : Trust everyone

Every night a bot will count the votes and if the majority vote 'Yes' the kids will be strapped into a diaper changing robot.

How about pleaseplaywithmycats.com? Audience controls robots to play with cats. As ridiculous as it sounds it would probably be immensely popular, tho animal rights groups would go nuts.

"tho animal rights groups would go nuts."

Why would they? Cats have to move to stay healthy, but home cats are notoriously lazy. I feel slightly guilty that I play with my cat too little. Robo-laser is on my project list, though I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving camera inside my home that has unrestricted Internet access.

There's remote feeders (with apps, cameras, etc), pretty sure they also exist for play. Both cats and doges.

There already a bunch of sites out there like that.

Why would they go nuts? Haven't seen a single backlash against the many sites out there already doing this.

Some animal rights groups can be quite touchy, I don't think there'd be a lot of forgiving PR if a stranger uses a remote-controlled bot to injure/kill a cat over the Internet.

I never thought this would already be an actual thing, could you give me some links?

I can't accept this kind of responsibility.

I bet you also decline the 'bag for life' in the supermarkets.

I would love to see the same thing with "Please take care of my planEt"!

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