Have you heard about soil moisture meters? Almost every gardener wonders at some point if their plants need more or less water.
Most plants don’t do well if there’s too much or not enough water in the soil. Fortunately, you can eliminate the guesswork when watering plants by working with a soil moisture meter.
In this article, we’ll show you how using a moisture meter for soil can improve your gardening experience and the health of your plants. We’ll also be looking at the best products on the market for accomplishing this.
The 5 Best Soil Moisture Meters for Plants
In a hurry? Check out our top picks for the best moisture meters. Click the link to the right to jump to our review.
|Jump to Review
|Sonkir Soil 3 in 1 Meter
|Best 3-in-1 Meter
|Bird Alarm Soil Moisture Meter
|Best Looking Meter
|Dr.meter S10 Soil Moisture Sensor
|Best Bargain Meter
|REOTEMP Garden and Compost Moisture Meter
|Best for Compost
|XLUX T10 Soil Moisture Sensor Meter
|Best for Small Pots & Seedlings
The 5 Best Moisture Meters for Your Plants
Learn a little more about our 5 favorite moisture meters to keep your flowers, herbs and vegetables healthy.
1. Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester
- Tests Light, Moisture & pH Levels
- Probe Length: 7.9 inches
- No Battery Required
- Indoor & Outdoor Use
The Sonkir 3-in-1 is the best versatile plant hygrometer that you can get. It’s a hybrid moisture meter that not only tests the water level of the soil, but also pH levels and UV light intensity, making it the perfect all-in-one tool for monitoring the health of your plants.
Aside from being versatile, the device is also easy to read, with two probes that go into the soil, one to test the soil pH and one to test the moisture. A color-coded display tells you the light, moisture, or pH depending on the setting chosen.
As a 3-way soil meter that can measure everything you need for healthy plant growth, you can’t go wrong with the Sonkir 3-in-1.
2. Soil Moisture Meter Watering Alarm Bird Plant Water Tester Hygrometer
- Chirps when soil is too dry
- Probe Length: 5 inches
- Battery Operated
- Indoor Use Only
Unlike other sensors that you use by placing and removing from your soil, you can leave this meter in the soil. When moisture levels drop below an acceptable level, the bird will sing, letting you know it’s time to water your plants.
While not tough enough for outdoor use, its unique and cute design make it ideal for indoor use for your potted herbs. It’s also highly convenient since you don’t have to keep checking on it.
It is very easy to use since you don’t need to read any settings, simply water your plants when the alarm goes off.
This fun little tool works great for indoor herbs where it can be hard to keep the water level even since they are growing in smaller pots and tend to dry out more quickly.
You can choose from a robin, cardinal, bluebird, yellow finch, or green frog. This one makes a great gift!
3. Dr.meter S10 Soil Moisture Sensor Meter Hygrometer
- Simple Easy to Read Design
- Probe Length: 7.7 Inches
- Indoor/Outdoor Use
- No Batteries Required
If you want to spend as little as possible on a meter and get a reliable product, the Dr.meter S10 should be your first choice. It’s an analog meter that’s suitable for gardens, farms, lawns, and indoor use.
It doesn’t require any batteries and has an easy-to-understand color-coded plant moisture indicator that tells you when your soil needs water. Its portable design makes it especially ideal for testing large expanses of farmland.
4. REOTEMP Garden and Compost Moisture Meter
- Battery Operated
- Probe Length: 18 Inches
- Additional Sizes available from 24 to 48 inches
It may be a little more expensive, but the REOTEMP is a worthwhile investment for keeping your soil properly hydrated.
It’s great for testing the moisture level of compost heaps, thanks to its long 15-inch probe that can dig deep into the heap to provide an accurate reading. Longer probes of 24, 36, or 48 inches are also available based on your specific use.
It has an easy to read gauge with color-coded indicators on a scale from 1 to 10.
The device’s rugged design and durable build are also good indicators that you can look forward to using the REOTEMP for years without issues.
5. XLUX T10 Soil Moisture Sensor Meter (Best for Small Pots & Seedlings)
- Probe Length: 7 Inches
- Indoor/Outdoor Use
- No Battery Required
If all you need is a sensor that can tell you if your potted plants are getting enough water, the affordable XLUX T10 will do.
Its analog design delivers a lightweight tool with a single long probe that can dig all the way to the bottom of your potted plant without hurting its roots. You can use it for indoor container plants or outdoor nursery. Further proof of this device’s quality is clear in its impressive 18-month warranty
Learn More About Moisture Meters And How They Work
Why Do You Need a Moisture Meter?
Using a soil moisture meter in your garden or potted plants will give you an accurate idea of when it’s best to water plants and how much water to use.
Moisture meters help gardening enthusiasts, such as yourself, by gauging the level of water in the earth. Simply stick it into the ground close to your plants and the device will let you know if the soil is too dry or moist or if it’s perfectly hydrated.
If the ground is too wet, it could lead to fungal growth and root rot problems. If it is too dry, your plant might suffer and end up with stunted growth.
A plant moisture meter is especially useful if you have more than one type of dirt in your garden. That’s because different types of earth retain water differently. Sandy soil requires more frequent watering whereas silty soil is quite good at retaining moisture. Regardless of your garden soil, the right meter will accurately show you when it’s watering time.
Another way a soil moisture sensor can assist your gardening is by testing your compost heap. A compost heap requires certain levels of water in order to break down the organic materials.
If the moisture level is too high or low, the microbes in the compost heap that aid plant growth won’t be able to flourish, which will make the compost useless.
Instead of guessing whether you need to add water to your compost heap, simply stick the probe into the heap for an accurate reading.
How Do Soil Moisture Meters Work?
Moisture meters are available in various designs and each type works differently.
Let’s take a look at the most common types and how they measure the dampness of your garden soil.
An analog moisture sensor is one of the simplest and most affordable types out there. Its simplicity makes it ideal for both pro and newbie gardeners.
Even though it doesn’t use batteries, it works by testing electricity conductivity in soil. The logic is that, since water is a natural and high conductor of electricity, the wetter the soil, the higher its conductivity will be. If there is less water it follows there will be less conductivity.
Digital Moisture Meters
Meters under this category have a more complicated design and offer more features than an analog meter. They use batteries to power their display screens and use small electromagnetic pulses to detect the water levels in the soil.
Wicking moisture meters are even lower tech than analog models. But they are effective as a moisture meter for indoor plants and herbs.
Instead of using electricity, a wicking meter works by absorbing moisture from a portion of the soil. If the soil is moist, the water is taken up by the wick and changes the color of an attached fabric. A deeper color change implies higher content, while low or no color changes imply lower water levels.
Hybrid meters are popular because they offer lots of features that deliver loads of information. Depending on the device, you may be able to test not only soil moisture, but also the pH levels, ambient temperature, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should my soil moisture be for growing herbs?
The ideal soil moisture level for your herb plant will depend on the specific herb you’re growing. Since most herb plants do well in soil with good drainage, keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.
But if your herbs include rosemary, lavender, bay, and similar woody plants that prefer gritty, sharply-drained soil, it’s best to keep soil moisture slightly below average.
How accurate is a moisture meter?
The accuracy of a moisture meter will depend on its design and quality. Generally, quality digital meters are more accurate since they provide precise readings rather than ballpark estimates.
Can you leave a moisture meter in the soil?
Most moisture meters shouldn’t be left in the soil because this will lead to rust. Unless the meter is like the Soil Moisture Meter Watering Alarm Bird that is specifically designed for such, it is best to remove the probes and clean after use to prevent rust and other damages.
What Did We Learn?
Since there are various types of soil meters, how to use a moisture meter will depend on the device’s specific design. Analog models are the easiest to use and maintain, especially since they don’t use batteries.
But digital models can deliver more accurate readings and come with more features.
At the end of the day, the right device for you will depend on how much information you need about your soil.