Are you having issues knowing when it’s time to water your houseplants or the plants outside? If you are, you’re not alone. Having a soil moisture sensor on hand is one way to combat this issue, and you can quickly and easily tell at a glance whether or not you have to water your plants. It prevents overwatering, and this can reduce issues you have with root rot or other issues that can kill your plants. However, there’s many different kinds of soil moisture sensors available.
Having so many choices makes it easy to get overwhelmed when you start shopping. They range from a few dollars for a simple model up to hundreds of dollars for more technologically advanced ones. You want to pick out the best soil moisture sensor for your needs to ensure you can keep your plants healthy, and this is where this guide comes in.
We’re going to highlight 10 different soil moisture sensors. Each review will feature a short review, pros, cons, and what each one is best for. This way, you can quickly look at them and see what’s available. At the end the short buyer’s guide will ensure that you know what features to look for when you start comparing products, and they’ll help you narrow down the products to your final choice.
A soil moisture sensor is an investment you want to make to ensure all of your plants stay healthy and thriving, both inside and out. Depending on your plants and how expensive they are, it may make sense to invest in a more expensive one to ensure it’s accurate. Jesse Lafian by UGA CAES/Extension / CC BY-NC 2.0
REOTEMP Garden Moisture Meter – Top Pick
Reotemp’s soil moisture sensor has a slightly longer probe than others on the list as others tend to top out at 10-inches. While this works for your potted plants or garden beds, it’s not long enough for other applications. If you have deep pots or trees that you’re trying to monitor you’ll need something like this. The probes on this brand starts at 15-inches and go up to 48-inches. The additional length on this probe ensures that you can assess moisture levels at deeper depths or to get you closer to the roots of your big potted plants or trees without falling short.
To ensure that it’s easy for you to use this soil moisture sensor, there is an analog display that sits on top of a sturdy T-shaped handle. When you insert it, it’ll put a reading up on the screen using a scale from 0 to 10. 0 means that your soil is far too dry, and 10 is saturated. You can calibrate the unit to your preferred moisture level too. It uses a single AAA battery to work, and it has stainless steel construction to allow it to work for years without rust or corrosion.
- Several probe lengths available
- Easy to use and read
- Can calibrate to your preferred moisture level
- One AAA battery
- Stainless steel construction
- Can use in pots, garden beds, or for trees
- Doesn’t work well in dry, compacted soil
Sustee Aquameter – Step-up Pick
Most soil moisture sensors have a probe that you have to stick into the soil each time you want to test how wet or dry it is. However, this one is different. Instead of inserting the sensor each time, you’ll leave this product right into the soil 24/7 to continuously monitor the soil’s wetness level. Inside the unit, there is a moisture-reactive core. This core will turn blue when it detects you water the plants and there is moisture present. As the soil starts to dry out, the color will change from blue to white.
This isn’t a soil moisture sensor that will give you precision results. However, it’ll give you a solid indication of when it’s time to water your plants to help keep them healthy. You can use each sensor for six to nine months until you need to replace it to ensure it continues to work as you need it to. You can purchase new cores and stick them into the bodies instead of having to purchase a whole new unit. They’re also very discreet, and they won’t take away from the look of your plants. They work well in small or large pots, but you should use them inside rather than outside for the best results.
- Color indication for soil moisture
- Discreet design
- Continuously monitors the moisture level
- Refillable cores available
- Easy to use
- Nice value for money
- Lasts six to nine months per core
- Need one for each one of your plants
XLUX Soil Moisture Meter – Mid-end Budget Pick
If you want a nice soil moisture sensor that will clue you in when your plants need moisture before you water them without breaking the budget, try this pick. This is a very simple tool that gives you a seven-inch moisture sensor probe that will evaluate how moist your indoor or outdoor plants are, and they use a scale of 1 to 10 to measure it. 1 is dry and 10 is saturated. There is an analog display that is easy to read, and there are no batteries and no charging required. This unit will give you an almost instantaneous reading of your plant’s soil moisture levels.
However, you should keep in mind that this is a budget pick that isn’t extremely durable. You shouldn’t jam this soil moisture sensor into any hard-packed soil or you run the risk of breaking it. If you don’t follow the instructions, you run the risk of breaking it. The rounded top on this sensor is comfortable to hold, and it makes the unit easy to use. All you’ll have to do is wipe it off between uses and it’s ready to go again, and you insert it around five inches into the soil to see whether or not you need to water.
- Very simple design
- Seven-inch probe attached
- Easy 1 to 10 scale
- Instantaneous readings after you insert it
- Rounded top is easy to grip
- Works on indoor and outdoor plants
- Pointed end cuts through the soil
- Slightly easier to break in hard soils
Sonkir Soil 3-in-1 Meter – Bargain Budget Pick
This soil moisture sensor is a bargain budget pick that gives you a slightly more in-depth picture of your plant’s soil conditions. Along with measuring the soil’s moisture levels, it can also measure the pH levels and the light levels. It comes with a metal probe that will determine the soil’s moisture levels on a scale from 1 to 10, and it’ll register the pH scale from 3.5 to 8. There is a photovoltaic cell on the front of the sensor that will clue you in on how much light your plants get, and this works both indoors and outdoors.
People who purchased this soil moisture sensor appreciate that it shows pH values too because it helps you optimize your soil conditions when you grow fruit plants or citrus plants to keep them healthy. It can also help determine the best spot in your home or garden for different types of plants based on the plant’s unique needs. For example, if you’re going to grow hydrangeas, you’ll need a shady spot with soil that is more acidic. It’s a great gift that you can get without breaking your budget, and it offers double-needle technology to ensure that everything is accurate when you get your readings.
- Measure light, moisture, and pH levels
- Double-needle technology for accuracy
- Requires no batteries to run
- Easy to use
- Gives accurate readings
- Use indoors or outdoors
- Switch to choose which element you want to measure
- Has a plastic body
Atree Soil Meter – Best for Multiple Readings
This is another soil moisture sensor that gives you multiple readings for pH levels, moisture, and light exposure for your plants. All you have to do is insert the probe up to five inches deep into the soil and choose which reading you want by adjusting the switch. It will give you readings from 3.5 to 8.0, and you get a LUX reading from 0 to 2,000. The moisture measurements range from 1 to 10, and there is a colored bar that is red for dry, blue for wet, and green for moist. You can choose from three different colors when you order this product, and this is a lower-budget option to consider.
The gauge on this soil moisture sensor is slightly more difficult to read when you compare it to sensors that just read moisture levels because there are more things packed into one. It works well when you use it in raised garden beds or for potted plants. There are no batteries required for this product, and it works well both inside and outside. You do need to leave it in the soil for at least 10 minutes to get an accurate reading from it, so it does take longer if you have multiple plants.
- Reads pH, moisture, and light
- Color coded for moisture readings
- Three colors available
- Gives accurate readings
- Works well indoors and out
- No batteries required to work
- Double prove ensures it’s accurate
- Take 10 minutes to get a single reading
Dr. Meter Soil Moisture Meter – Best for Ease of Use
There are no whistles and bells on this soil moisture sensor, and it offers a very easy and straightforward use process that will tell you if your soil is wet, moist, or dry using a scale that starts at 1 and goes up to 10. You can’t calibrate the gauge, but it works well both indoors and out for potted houseplants or in raised garden beds. This is another affordable option that is easy to use, and you’ll know in just under 60 seconds if you need to water your soil, if it’s just right, or if you need to back off on watering it and let it dry out a little bit.
The probe on this soil moisture sensor will go six inches into the soil, but it only has a single probe on it. This ensures that you won’t have much of a problem getting it the correct depth into the ground. There is a 30-day warranty on each product, and they’ll refund you if it doesn’t work to your specifications. It only weighs in at 2.7-ounces, and this ensures that you can easily pick it up and take it with you wherever you want to go without it taking up a lot of space.
- Simple and straightforward design
- Scale goes from 1 to 10
- Works inside and outside
- Gives readings in 60-seconds
- Goes six inches into the soil
- 30-day warranty on each product
- May not work well after multiple uses
VegTrug Smart Plant Monitor – Best for BlueTooth
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This soil moisture sensor is Bluetooth-enabled. This product comes with a sensor that lets you know what the temperature and light levels are around your plants to help keep them healthy. It will also let you know if the nutrient levels in the soil are high, medium, or low when you test it. This can help tell you when it’s time to add water or if you’re watering too much. The app can give useful tips out to your specific plants to ensure you have the perfect growing conditions to keep it happy and thriving. It goes only three inches into the soil, and it’s very light and portable at 2.8-ounces.
This soil moisture sensor runs with Android or Apple devices, including tablets. It’s only intended for indoor use, so don’t try to take it outside and assume you’ll get accurate readings. You’ll have to switch the plant settings on the app if you have different types of plants you want to test. The app’s database holds over 6,000 different types of plants. It comes with dual sensors to ensure each reading you get are accurate, and it needs one CR2032 battery. There are four sensors that give you accurate nutrient ratings.
- Bluetooth-enabled sensor
- Runs on Apple and Android devices
- Four sensors on each device
- Growing tips for specific plants
- 6,000 plants on the app
- Runs on a single battery
- Gives temperature readings for the plants
- Doesn’t work well on outdoor plants
Gouevn Soil Moisture Meter – Best for Large Pots
If you have big pots or deep raised planter boxes out on your deck, this soil moisture sensor is a good pick. You get a much longer probe sensor with this unit that is excellent for plants that have deep root systems, including trees and shrubs. It works well both indoors and out, and it has a very large dial that is easy to see from a distance. The colored scale is easy to read when you look at it to see how wet or dry the soil is around your plants.
You can choose from green or black coloring with this soil moisture sensor, and there is a watering guide for over 200 plants included in each purchase so you can keep your plants healthy and thriving. The probe is just over seven inches long, and this allows you to reach into deeper parts of your pots right to the roots. There is no battery required for this unit to run, and it’s very lightweight and portable so you can take it with you. You’ll get almost instantaneous readings with this unit, and this ensures that you can cover a lot of plants very quickly and easily. There is an 18-month warranty attached to each purchase.
- Works well in deep planters
- Colored water scale
- Green or black coloring
- 200 plant watering guide included
- Reaches into the root system for accurate readings
- No battery required
- 18-month warranty included
- Only has a single probe with a plastic body
Swiser Soil Test Kit – Best for Finicky Plants
If you have finicky plants that you’re having trouble keeping alive, this can be one of the best soil moisture sensors on the market. It gives you more information about your plant’s health. It’s an analog-hybrid meter that combines several different readings in one device. It’ll give you pH, soil moisture, and light readings to ensure your plants get the correct amount of sunlight to thrive. You won’t have to calibrate anything for this to work. Instead, you just stick it into the soil and allow it to give you the readings.
The soil does have to be loose and not compacted for this soil moisture sensor to work well. All you have to do is move the switch or dial to take the correct readings you want. You’ll slide the button to the middle to test for light, to the left for moisture, and to the right for pH. This allows you to tell if your soil is too acidic, if you’re getting enough or too much light, and enough or too much moisture. The readout screen is slightly larger to ensure you can read it, and it has dual probes to ensure accuracy.
- Works well for finicky plants
- Shows you pH, light, and moisture levels
- Dual probes for accuracy
- Slightly larger readout screen
- Switch to switch between settings
- No battery required for it to run
- Can use indoors and outdoors
- Can’t use it in more compact or clay-based soils
Netro Whisperer – Best for Outdoor Use
The final soil moisture sensor is tough enough to use outdoors in your container garden or indoors in your plants to get reads for ambient temperature, moisture levels, and exposure to sunlight. It has a curved design to it that is easy to use, and it’s a solar powered sensor that allows this unit to get the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the day. It’ll detect your soil’s moisture levels while telling you what the ambient temperature is around your plants and how much sunlight exposure they get. It has a wireless sensor that is Wi-Fi enabled, and you can get your information from an Android or Apple device.
You can leave this soil moisture sensor outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without worrying about it breaking down. It’s compatible with an intelligent watering system, including the Netro Sprite. Once the app takes a few weather readings and analyzes your local weather patterns, it’ll give you a recommended watering schedule for your plants. You can easily set up plant care notifications that will push reminders to tell you to perform important tasks in your garden to keep all of your plants healthy and thriving.
- Works indoors and outdoors
- Reads sunlight, moisture and ambient temperature
- Wireless sensors that is Wi-Fi enabled
- Stays outside 24 hours a day
- Works with Apple and Android systems
- Suggests a watering schedule
- Push garden care task reminders
- More expensive to purchase
Best Soil Moisture Sensor Buying Guide
When you start looking for your new soil moisture sensor, you want to know which criteria you should use to narrow down your choices. No matter if you want to use it on indoor or outdoor options, the following will help you decide which one best matches your needs.
Knowing which criteria you should use to compare products ensures that you get something that is going to work well for your wants and needs. They can help keep your plants healthier and take the guesswork out of plant care. SparkFun Soil Moisture Sensor (with Screw Terminals) by SparkFun Electronics / CC BY 2.0
The display is huge on these soil moisture sensors. You’ll want something that you can read very easily at a glance, even if the device monitors more than one value like light or pH with moisture. Make sure the writing is big enough that you can read it, the screen doesn’t fog up in different weather conditions, and that the moisture scales are very clear and concise.
Accuracy is another huge factor when you pick out a soil moisture sensor. Typically, you can have single or dual probes, and dual probes are typically better to help ensure accuracy. No matter if you’re using it in your cut flower garden or inside in your houseplants, the accuracy readings should be spot on. Some devices will give you readouts right away, and some can take up to 10 minutes to post.
Although most of these soil moisture sensors are relatively inexpensive, you still want to get durable construction that is going to last year in and year out. Check and see what the housing of your sensor is made out of, and the probes. The probes should be stainless steel to resist rust and corrosion, and the body is typically a thicker plastic.
Ease of Use
Ideally, your soil moisture sensor will be easy to use. You should just have to stick it in the soil and allow it to spit out readings. Some have more than one setting, so you’ll have to toggle a switch to go between the settings on the device. It should also give you very fast readings, and this is important to have if you have several plants you routinely check on.
Does your soil moisture sensor run on batteries or not? If it runs on batteries, you’ll have to keep in mind how long they work and how difficult they are to find. Some run on watch-style batteries that are more expensive while other models use solar power to run. Some don’t require any batteries at all because they have no digital readouts, just a sensor.
The best soil moisture sensor will vary from person to person. Some people only have a few plants to keep happy, so they need something more low-tech. However, if you have a huge garden with exotic plants, you want something more precise to ensure every reading you get is accurate. We invite you to take a look at these 10 best soil moisture sensors and use the attached buying guide to make a solid decision on which unit will work best for your wants and needs. The results are happy and thriving plants.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.