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Ferns with Friends is an app for anyone, from those of us who can barely keep a pet rock alive, all the way to tried and true green thumbs. We make plant care a relaxing, fun, and social ritual you can participate in at your own pace.

With a plant well-being feedback system, Ferns with Friends takes away the mystery of growing a happy, healthy plant collection, making it accessible and gamified for people of all experience levels. The app is linked to an insert in each plant’s pot which tracks and reports back metrics integral to the plant’s health, including pH level, soil water content, soil nutrition, and light exposure. This use of data metrics incentivizes people to use the app through an appeal to authority, because it provides objective, data-driven ways to assess the plant’s health and well-being. Furthermore, these metrics are summarized in a metric for the plant’s “overall happiness” level, adding a cute and fun aspect to this very scientific approach for plant care, which contributes to users’ liking of the app. The care rituals outlined by our app are specific to each plant and its environment. If we detect any significant environmental changes, either forecasted or in real time, we’ll walk you through exactly how to ensure your plant comes out unscathed.

Based on this overall happiness level, Ferns with Friends tracks a streak of how many consecutive days the plant has charted good vitals, introducing a gamified aspect to plant care, as the user is challenged to see how long they can maintain their plants’ happiness streak for. The gamification of app care is further extended in the “petals” features, which functions as currency you can use to purchase various upgrades and accessories for your plants, or to gift to friends. Petals are earned by maintaining daily plant care streaks. This motivates users to continually return to the app to maintain consistency and commitment, and it provides some sense of routine for users to daily check their plants’ vitals and maintain the streak. There is relatively low time commitment and money involved in maintaining this routine, and it does not require complex cognitive cycles.

Ferns with Friends also allows you to connect with other plant-growing users and make “Plant Buddies,” so you can track your plants’ progress alongside a community of plant buddies, which helps with both enjoyment and accountability. This adds an aspect of social proof to the app, because seeing that other people are actively taking care of their plants and using the app provides additional motivation for users to do the same. This also enhances the gamification of plant care, because now you can also compare your own plants’ health to your Plant Buddies’, and compete to see who can maintain longer happiness streaks.

We are also capitalizing on the idea that personifying your plants can help with maintaining motivation to care for them. This has to do with the principle of reciprocity because by investing time and care into your plant, in return you receive a sense of achievement, which is amplified by a personal attachment to the cute, personified plant images.

The user motivation for our app comes from the pleasure of maintaining streaks, earning petals, purchasing upgrades, and creating community with friends. It is also driven by the pain of not using the app and seeing your cute plants wilting. It builds on users’ hope that they will be able to successfully grow a healthy plant. Finally, users are motivated by the acceptance/approval they will receive from showing friends how well their plants are growing.

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