5 of The Best 4-in-1 Soil Testers (Getting the Growing Conditions Right in Containers)

Moisture
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Anybody who has a container garden knows that for any plant to crop, flower or fruit certain growing conditions needs to be met. The pH of the compost needs to be right, the soil temperature not too hot or not too cold, the compost must have the right amount of moisture-not too wet or too dry, and it must have the right level of sunlight. This is where a 4-in-1 soils sensor comes into play, as you will get all 4 variable measured. In this article, the 5 best soil testers will be reviewed.

WHY MUST THE PH BE MEASURED?

The compost must have the right pH, especially if the plant grown in the container like acidic conditions. You will need to tailor the pH of the compost by adding iron sulfate to make it more acidic (for plants such as blueberries, heathers, camellia, peris, etc) or by adding lime for plants that hate growing in strongly acidic conditions ( i.e. brassicas).

Soil tester
Use a soil tester to get your plant in pots looking good

You need to monitor how much of the pH-altering chemical to add and this is where a pH Meter comes into play. Get the pH right the plant will flourish, get it wrong and the plant will perish. PH meter is therefore very important in container gardening.

WHY MUST THE SOIL TEMPERATURE NEED TO BE MEASURED?

The compost temperature must also be measured as this will tell you if it is the right time to plant seeds. Too cold and the seeds may not germinate or germinate too slowly. Plants in general, especially non-hardy ones will not survive cold conditions, this is why it is important to determine if the temperature is warm enough to plant outside. In this way, plants will not be lost.

WHY MUST THE SUNLIGHT LEVEL BE MEASURED?

Most plants like to be grown in full sun, others like partial or full shade. How do you determine if the light levels are adequate for the plant? This is why the sun level intensity or a light meter as it is alternatively known, needs to be used.

Sun
Sun is so important in gardening

Full sun plants tend to need more than six hours per day in order to do well, and so gauging the light levels is very important. Full sun-loving plants will not do well in shady areas, and shade-loving plants conversely will not do well in sunny spots. Light meters will tell you if the area you have chosen is getting enough light and is suitable, or if it is too dark and therefore unsuitable.

WHY MUST THE MOISTURE LEVELS BE MEASURED?

Finally, plants need water to survive, but how do you determine if the compost in the container at the root level is too dry or too wet.

Moisture
Moisture is very important in container gardening

This is when a moisture meter comes in handy, as this will inform you when a plant needs to be watered or not. Most plants wilt when it is too dry and also wilt if the compost is too wet, so this device will stop you watering a plant unnecessarily. This will save you wasting water in the garden.

The 4 measurements are very important, but does this mean that you need to buy 4 separate devices to make these 4 measurements? No, that would be silly and very expensive as you can buy a 4-in-1 meter that can measure pH, Soil temperature, light levels, and moisture levels.

What follows are my 5 best soil condition monitors that measure these 4 variables:

ZHONGYE 4-in-1 Soil Tester

Product: ZhongYe 4-in1 Soil Tester

The Best Place to buy: www.amazon.co.uk

Product Dimensions: 35.5 x 8.4 x 6.2cm

Shipping Weight: 0.181kg

My score: 8.5/10

This is a 4-in-1 soil tester that incorporates a moisture meter (Dry to wet), pH meter (3.5 to 9.0 in 12, 0.5 intervals), sunlight intensity (9 levels) and temperature (-9 degrees Celsius to 50 degree Celsius).

It has a backlit LCD display with an LCD Screen, and a green backlit allowing it to be read in dark conditions. It is easy to use as all that is required is a 9V battery (not included). To make a measurement all you need to do is remove the protective cover from the probe, turn it on, and insert the probe into the compost slowly down, where the LCD screen will display the four measurements in the area that the probe has been inserted in.

The device has a fast response time and after 5 minutes of non-operation will switch off, saving battery power.

This device will save you time and energy as from this you can determine when to water, when to adjust the pH, or when to move it to a brighter location, both indoors and outdoors.

Advantages include:
  • Easy to use
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • All rubber buttons are waterproof.
  • Readings are instant, so no waiting around.
  • Will switch off 5 minutes after disuse.
Disadvantages include:
  • Too much pressure can damage the probe.
  • Using mainly liquids will damage the unit.
  • Too long exposure to the soil can damage the probe. Do not use the probe as a permanent fixture in a container as this will stop it from working.
MORTHAN 2019 4-in-1 Soil Tester

Product: Morthan 2019 New 4-in1 soil Tester.

The Best Place to buy: www.amazon.co.uk

Product Dimensions: 30 x 6 x 3cm

Shipping Weight: 0.141kg

My score: 8/10

This device has 9 levels to monitor light levels, 5 levels to determine how wet the compost is, 12 levels for measuring pH in 0.5 levels from 3.5 to 9.0, and temperature from (-9 degrees Celsius to 50 degree Celsius. This is a new improved version for today’s gardener.

Morthan 2019 4-in 1 soil tester will help you to keep control of the 4 factors that affect your plant in container health. The soil tester will help you to choose the best location to plant your flowers and crops when to water and when to increase or decrease the acidity of your compost.

The 70cm long probe allows the measurement to be made at the root level, where the large LCD screen with green backlit makes it easy to read. It can be used for indoor and outdoor container gardens.

Advantages include:
  • Easy to use
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Readings are in real-time and so there will be no waiting around.
  • Will switch off after 1 minute of no use.
Disadvantages include:
  • Too much pressure can damage the probe, so lower the probe into the compost slowly.
  • Using the probe in a solution or water will damage it.
OLLIVAN PLANT MONITOR

Product: Ollivan Plant Monitor

The Best Place to buy: www.amazon.co.uk

Product Dimensions: 12 x 2.4 x 1.2cm

Shipping Weight: 0.0816kg

My score: 7/10

This electronic device will connect via blue tooth connection that allows the data to be uploaded via an app to your mobile phone in real-time.

It has a temperature sensor that will accurately monitor and analyses temperature to an accuracy of 0.5 degree Celsius.

It has a light sensor that accurately records and reads the intensity of sunlight, up to 1,000,000 Lux. The light intensity would be measured up to an accuracy of 100 Lux The wireless plant sensor will tell you if the light levels and temperature are sufficient for the plant needs. This is cased in the upper section of the sensor.

It has a plant nutrient monitor instead of a pH monitor, where 4 stainless steel probes at the bottom of the plant monitor track’s available fertilizers’ nutrients to the plant accurately. Soil nutrient content will be sent to your phone and you can then fertilize to information recommended by the app.

Soil moisture detector works by having black long strips that help to detect water content in the compost quickly, so information when the plant needs to be watered.

It is easy to use where the plant monitors via Bluetooth technology to ‘Flower care’ or Rel Home’ apps. The apps have a database of more than 900 plants caring methods and can identify 3000 kinds of plants. It will require a CR2032 button battery.

Advantages are:
  • Easy to use.
  • For what it offers it is not too expensive.
  • Will give an idea of when the plant is nutrient deficient, something which other sensors do not do.
  • The probe can be used in hydroponics but this is not recommended for a long time as this can damage the probes. This means if you are using it outside then keep it dry, so it is between to store it indoors.
Disadvantages include:
  • The probe can be damaged by submerging in water for a long time. The upper part of the sensor cannot be exposed to water at all/
  • More for indoor plants than outdoor.
  • If you do not have a mobile device than you can forget about this technology.
  • New technology and the database of how well they will perform has not been gauged.
GOWIND6 4-IN-1 SOIL TESTER

Product: Gowind6 4-in-1 Soil Tester.

The Best Place to buy: www.amazon.co.uk

Product Dimensions: 32.5 x6.5 x 4 cm

Shipping Weight: 0.181kg

My score: 8/10

This device analyses the plant sunlight intensity, soil moisture content, soil temperature (from – 9 degree Celsius to 50 degree Celsius), and the acidity or alkalinity of the compost with a pH range of 3.5-9.0.

It is easy to use all you need to do is plug and read. If the plants are very dry the soil meter pointer does not move and this would mean that the plant will require watering straight away. It is ideal to be used indoors and outdoors, where it will inform when to water, adjust pH or to increase or reduce lighting, for all plants used. This will provide enough information to keep plants healthy.

Advantages are:
  • Easy to Use
  • Not too expensive.
  • Will give good accurate values to inform if the plant is growing in the container at optimal growth conditions.
  • Not as complex as other soil testers.
Disadvantages are:
  • The probe can be damaged if too much pressure is applied.
  • Do not immerse in liquid as this will cause damage to the sensor.
  • The design is not as modern as other 4-in 1 soil testers.
MOOTEA 5-in 1 Soil Tester

Product: Mootea 5-in1 soil Tester

The Best Place to buy: www.amazon.co.uk

Product Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 10 cm

Shipping Weight: 0.168kg

My score: 9/10

This device is a multifunctional electric soil analyzer, where various measurements are made. It acts as a hydrometer where the water content is measured. It also measures soil temperature, light intensity, pH and air Humidity. The probe is long enough to accommodate the measurement of all these factors in this soil tester.

The operation is simple as the values are displayed on a large LCD screen, which is easy to read.

All you need to do is insert the probe vertically in the container, away from the roots. Push the probe gently into the compost to avoid damage. Measure the desired variable.

The air humidity measurement around the plant is a bonus that is not offered by other soil testers using the described method the soils tester should be accurate enough for the gardener, but some error must be expected.

Advantages are:
  • It is easy to use.
  • For what it measures it is relatively cheap.
  • Will measure air humidity, where the other devices reviewed in this article do not measure.
  • Will give more information so will make looking after plants in containers more easily, so that the moisture content, pH and light intensity can be changed. Humidity is controlled by the weather and so more difficult to control.
Disadvantages are:
  • Probes can be damaged by inserting in the compost with too much force.
  • Any liquid will be detrimental to the probe health, so do not immerse in water, vinegar or lemon juice.
  • It takes a long time to reach a stable value, so can be very draining to battery life.

WHY SHOULD I BUY A SOIL TESTER?

I have been using soil testers in my container garden for a number of years. It has helped me to tailor my compost so that any variation in light intensity, moisture content and pH changes of the compost can be dealt with.

I will not say which soil tester is the best as all have their own merits. It is all about looks as well as functionality. If you do not have a soil tester then it is seriously time to think about getting one, as it will take the guesswork away from container gardening. This is especially true if you live in a drought area and you need to monitor your watering. So buy your soil tester today.

If you want to test my knowledge by asking me a question (No probes necessary) or like to make a comment (again no probes need to be used), please do so in the comment box below.

That’s enough probing.


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10 thoughts on “5 of The Best 4-in-1 Soil Testers (Getting the Growing Conditions Right in Containers)”

  1. I recently got some bonsai trees for my house and I can say that I love them. 

    However, they require a lot of attention and care especially with their soil and watering and I definitely need a tool to test my soil’s PH and moisture.

    Is any of those testers better suited for bonsai trees contained in very small containers? I don’t really care about measuring the sunlight because I keep my bonsai under share for the most part.

    1. Hi Harry

      All these sensors are suitable to be used in small containers as the probes themselves  only occupy small areas. You will only need to use them once or twice a week, so will not be in the container permanently. All you have to do is store them in a dry condition.

      Thanks

      Antonio

  2. I’m pretty new to gardening as my partner and I have just recently bought our first house (with a decent sized garden), and we are trying our hand at growing the garden out at the moment. 

    With these soil testers, is there a specific brand/type that works best in countries where the weather is a little unpredictable at best? We live in Wales (UK) and it can become very wet, even in summer months?

    1. Hi Chris

      These soil testers are designed only for short term use, a minute or two at best. It should never be used whilst raining as this can damage the sensor. It is best to use it  when it is dry, so you can monitor the light intensity, moisture, soil temperature and pH values.

      Thanks

      Antonio

  3. I’m honestly not so good with these things, but my wife is. She loves everything around gardening, so I will show her this post. Now, I don’t know if she knows everything about this, but if she doesn’t, we’ll she learned new things, which is good of course. So, thanks for sharing it! 

  4. I have been planting without taking care of none of these things. I just use the normal soil I have and never monitor the soil or the moisture level, or anything else. A few days back my aloe vera leaves started to turn yellow with some spot of black. That is why I thought of seeking a solution for them.

    I want to start the right way this time and I will take into consideration your advise and check the tools needed.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Adyns

      it is important to keep your plants happy and this involves monitoring their growing conditions. No more over or under watering, as the guess work is taken out.

      Thank you

      Antonio

  5. It is good to see that there is a device that can do more than one operation in soil testing. All the options mentioned inside this review are eye-catching due to their amazing features and pocket friendly. I like the feature of Ollivan Plant Monitor, only that it is more useful for indoor plants than outdoor ones. It looks more advance than the rest. Another eye-catching soil tester is the ‘morthan 2019 new 4-in1 soil tester’. This look new and cheap. All these will be of help for farmers that want to be professional in his/er field. I can see the main cons of these testers is that it can get spoilt for long exposure inside liquid or water. Do you have any idea if the water loving tester has been produced before? If they haven’t, I think this is another challenge that needs to put into consideration. I’ll love to do further research on that.

    1. Hi Stella.

      To keep a container plant in tiptop condition, you need to monitor all these variables. The problem with solutoons is that these probes are not designed to be placed in liquids, as this will short the circuit. Of course there are meter designed for liquids but they are too bulky for gardens. They are more designed for science laboratories.

      Thank you

      Antonik

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