Good journal keeping is important, especially with a large collection of plants all with varying needs. When I started my Hibiscus collection about 5 years ago I had at most 20 varieties, they were easy to keep track of and I knew each one well. As my collection grew larger it became harder to remember each plant or their specific needs. Now, I am quite fastidious about record keeping, I need it orderly and always up to date. I am also a web developer by trade, to solve my problem I did what any good web developer would do. I wrote a program to take care of my needs.
So I developed My Plant Journal an online journal tool specifically to keep track of my Hibiscus collection. It tracks all the important variables, however I found that all I really wanted was photos, date and text description for each journal entry all linked to the plant I was journaling at the time. You can check out my collection here.
Why keep a journal
If having happy and healthy plants is important to you a journal is very helpful. So many times I have had to refer to old notes to see what changes I made and track results. For example, when you change potting mix formulas it’s important to register what you adjusted and track the results over time. The same goes for fertilizer routines, if you change your routine knowing what effect it has over time is crucial to understanding your plants needs better.
Why is data collection important?
Collecting journal data helps you learn. Because plants grow slowly a small change this month may have a profound impact next month. If you are keeping records of your plants progress during the plants growth you will be able to view and compare your plants progress. Over the course of my plants lives I photograph my plants progress. This allows me to go through my organised photos to see how it’s grown over the course of 1 year, 2 years and so on.
Choosing the right data to collect
Each Plant should have the following recorded:
- Plant ID
- Plant Species
- Common Name
- Friendly Name
Inside each plant you would want to record at a minimum:
- Date of Journal
- Health Status
How often to update your records
There’s no point in having a journal if your data isn’t updated regularly. I try to keep seasonal updates on all my plants, as well as journal the date and time I make any specific changes for example, if I cut the plant back, or repot the plant entirely.
When ever I make a change to a plants conditions I want to track how that change is received by the plant, keeping frequent enough records will mean that you can always keep an eye on any growth or declines in your plants health.
Keep your journal online
If you’re like me you love the internet, I made a career out of it. So when there is a web solution to a problem I build it. I tried a lot of ready made plant journals and apps on my phone. However I was dissatisfied with the way the records were kept. They were large systems and not simple to use or easy to understand. Besides which, I only needed to keep a small set of data per plant, and I wanted it organised in a specific way.
I always have my iPad near me when I am outside in my greenhouse, when ever I adjust my plants specific conditions or notice a change I will open my online journal, snap a picture, add a quick description and save. That way when I want to look back over my plants history it’s all in one place, and I don’t have to worry about losing a paper journal, or database on my computer in the case of computer failure. I recommend https://www.myplantjournal.com for your Hibiscus collection data keeping. I should, I made it. *see note below
Perhaps your not as fastidious as me. But if you have ever experienced a setback or you really like the idea of keeping records of your plants individually, there is no substitute for quality journal keeping.
*note about My Plant Journal – I created My Plant Journal to keep track of MY plant collection. However it became clear that others could use it as well. While I do recommend it, you should keep in mind that there might be some specific functionality that doesn’t meet your needs. Send me a comment below if you have any suggestions.