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HOME: Ade Andu
  Ade Andu explains how he used hydromechanics to take the guesswork out of plant care - and created Plantpal.
Occupation: Inventor Lives: Barnet, North London
Intro Image
© Science Museum/Science and Society Picture
 

Transcription of audio file:
Back in the early nineteenth century, plants used to be quite difficult to water. You had these old pumps which you had to press hard to get the water from wells, and you didn't have the luxury of sprinklers at that time. So it was quite hard work caring for your garden or house plants.


picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

Over the years a lot of people have been thinking about how to improve plant care. My invention, called Plantpal, is one of the modern solutions which really does take care of your plants.

Back when I was a student, when I was living in halls of residence, I decided to buy some plants to brighten up the room. I bought these nice-looking houseplants, watered them, and before long they all died.

So I thought to myself, 'I did water them, why did they die?' And I now remembered a colleague of mine saying, 'Make sure you don't kill them.' I didn't understand what she meant, but after they died I realised I had over-watered these plants.

I said, 'Ok, I don't have green fingers. So what do we do now?' I left it for a while, and years later, because of my interest in starting to keep plants, I decided to think of ways that would make it easier to care for plants, especially when people go away on holiday.

So I came up with this invention called Plantpal. What it does is that it stores water in a chamber, and using some mechanical valves at the bottom of the chamber itself, it is able to release water into the compost as the plant requires it. Basically, the plant pulls what it wants. When it's not thirsty, it doesn't release any water, and when it requires a lot more it releases it, especially during the summertime when they are in their full bloom.

Lots of people have bought Plantpal, and they find it really takes the hard work out of caring for their plants. You find that many people do have plants in their house, but they do not think of themselves as expert gardeners. But with Plantpal, they don't have to be. It gives them instant green fingers, because it prevents over-and under-watering, which are the main killers of houseplants.

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Hand pump, c.1880
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