9 of the Best Moisture Meters for Your Garden

Watering is one of the most common gardening tasks, and also one of the easiest to mess up.

At some point, pretty much anyone who dabbles in growing plants has managed to drown one completely, or has forgotten to water to the point where the plant is practically a husk.

But there’s a tool out there that takes the guesswork out of watering and saves lives – at least the plant kind (cue dramatic music).

Soil moisture meters are simple, efficient tools for figuring out how moist the soil is around your plants.

A close up vertical image of a soil moisture meter with hyacinth flowers in the background pictured in bright sunshine. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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Not all of them are the same, which is why we’ve created this guide to help you find the best moisture meter for your garden.

For some people, one you can leave in the soil is the right choice. For others, a smart water meter that is connected to a phone is perfect.

Up ahead, we’ll chat about nine different options, as well as some tips for buying the right model.

If you’ve never used one of these handy tools before, check out our guide to using moisture meters. Then, come back here and pick the best one for your needs.

1. Top Pick Up Front: Hydrofarm Active Air 3-Way Meter

Simple to use, reliable, and affordable. That’s why the Hydrofarm Active Air 3-Way Meter, available at Arbico Organics, is our top pick for the average user.

A close up vertical image of the Active Air 3-Way Meter isolated on a white background.

Hydrofarm Active Air 3-Way Meter

This product gives you three readings for the price of one. In addition to moisture, it provides a pH reading between 3.5 to 8.0, and tells you if the available light level is anything from 0 LUX (very dark) to 2,000 LUX (like sitting under a spotlight).

For an all-purpose and affordable option, it’s really hard to beat this one. It gives you all the basics, including a soil moisture reading, reliably and quickly.

It doesn’t require batteries and the probe extends six inches deep. Plus, it isn’t so expensive that you’ll be afraid to take it with you to the furthest reaches of your property in bad weather.

It works both indoors and outdoors – just insert the probes into the soil, wait for a minute, read the meter, and remove.

When you’re done using it, wipe it down and store it. To check the pH or light instead, simply move the switch. It couldn’t be easier to operate.

The face is tilted up slightly, so you can read it whether you’ve inserted it into a table-top houseplant or down into the soil below you.

The downside is that the face isn’t as easy to read as that of a basic moisture-only meter. Ah well, compromises, right?

Hydrofarm Active Air 3-Way Meter Specs and Features:

  • 6-inch probe length
  • Weighs 6.4 ounces
  • No batteries required
  • Provides reading in 1 minute
  • Measures pH and light as well as moisture
  • Simple to use

For the price of a meter that simply reads your soil’s moisture, you have a product that will also give you the pH and a light reading.

That’s handy because there have been times when I thought my plant was getting enough light, but this tool told me otherwise (and it made all the difference!).

Easy to use, easy to move, and reliable, this is our top pick for an all-around moisture reading tool.

Head to Arbico Organics to find current prices and the latest customer reviews.

2. Atree Soil Meter

Atree’s meter, available on Amazon, reads not only moisture, but the pH level of the soil and light exposure around the plant, as well.

Atree Soil Meter

Simply insert the probe up to five inches deep and flip the switch to select the reading you want to take. The gauge will tell you what you need to know.

It reads pH from 3.5 to 8.0 and LUX from 0 to 2,000. Moisture is measured on a scale of one to 10 with a colored bar that is labeled dry (red), moist (green), or wet (blue).

At a price that is much lower than that of some models, you get a fairly accurate reading that will enable you to determine whether or not your plant needs water, or if it’s time to adjust that pH level.

The gauge is a little more difficult to read than is the case for the meters that only read moisture.

Additionally, with the gauge on the front, this is best for use with potted houseplants or in raised garden beds. Otherwise, you’re going to need to bend down to read the gauge.

No need for batteries though, and you can use this one inside or out. Just be sure to leave it in the soil for at least 10 minutes before you take a reading.

Atree Soil Meter Specs and Features:

  • 6.7-inch probe length
  • Weighs 3.5 ounces
  • No batteries required
  • Get a reading in 10 minutes
  • Comes in multiple colors
  • Simple to use

As a bonus, if you want to add a little color to your life, this meter comes in black, green, purple, and yellow.

You can pick one up at Amazon, where you can find the current price and see what other people are saying.

3. Dr. Meter Soil Moisture Meter

If you want the simplest, easiest to use hygrometer out there, the Dr. Meter Moisture Meter, available on Amazon, is it.

There are no bells, no whistles, just an easy-to-read gauge that tells you if your soil is dry, moist, or wet on a scale of 1-10.

Dr. Meter Soil Moisture Meter

While the construction is perhaps a little lower quality than other items on this list and the gauge can’t be calibrated, it’s one of the most affordable options on this list, doesn’t need any batteries, and tells you in about a minute just where the soil moisture level is in your garden or container.

The probe extends six inches into the soil. Unlike the 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 meters, it only has one probe, so you won’t have much of a challenge getting it into the earth.

While customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive, a few users mention that their meters have stopped working after just a few uses, or arrived faulty. The manufacturer offers a 30-day warranty.

Dr. Meter Specs and Features:

  • 8-inch probe length
  • Weighs 2.7 ounces
  • No batteries required
  • Get a reading in 1 minute
  • Affordably priced
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to read

If you want something that is affordable and as simple as it gets to use, this is a good pick.

If you decide that this is the one for you, head to Amazon to see the current price and what people have to say about it.

4. A. M. Leonard Soil Moisture Meter

If you’re looking for a model that is targeted towards serious or even professional gardeners, A. M. Leonard’s moisture meter, available on Amazon, is a solidly built basic option.

The meter is on the top, so it’s easy to read while standing above it. You can also calibrate it to ensure that you’re getting an accurate reading.

A. M Leonard

The probe extends into the soil 24 inches, which means you can get a reading deep down where other probes can’t go. While most models are housed in plastic, this one is steel.

That sturdy construction comes with a price, however. It’s the heaviest one on this list at 16 ounces.

It’s made in the USA and comes with a 90-day warranty. The downside? This isn’t the right option if you need a tool to read the moisture in houseplants. Since the gauge is on top and the probe is so long, it’s simply unwieldy.

A.M. Leonard Soil Moisture Meter Specs and Features:

  • 24-inch probe length
  • Weighs 16 ounces
  • 1 AA battery required
  • Get readings instantly
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to read
  • Solid construction
  • Can be calibrated

For those who don’t want any bells and whistles, but just a solid, sturdy tool that can be calibrated to give accurate moisture readings even deep down in the soil, this is it.

If you’re a casual gardener, this product is likely a bit more than you need.

Purchase the A. M. Leonard meter now at Amazon.

5. Bluelab Pulse Multimedia Meter

The Bluelab Pulse Multimedia Meter, available from Walmart, will make a bigger dent in your bank account than the others on this list, but if you’re a serious gardener who needs quick, accurate readings, it’s well worth the cost.

A close up of the Bluelab Pulse Mutimedia Meter isolated on a white background.

Bluelab Pulse Multimedia Meter

The dual prongs quickly read the moisture, temperature, and nutrient levels at the root zone and give you a read-out on the backlit LCD display. Right away, you know whether it’s time to water and fertilize.

Plus, you’ll know whether your seeds or seedlings are struggling because your soil is too cold.Then, all that information is sent to the Pulse app on your phone, where it’s stored.

You can easily look back at the moisture, nutrient, and temperature cycle over the year and make adjustments the following year to better nurture your plants.

The app allows you to analyze and review all the data you collected, giving you real insight into the soil.

It runs on batteries and is accurate even in coco coir and other soilless mediums, which can trip up other meters.

Bluelab Pulse Multimedia Meter Specs and Features:

  • 8-inch probe length
  • Weighs 14.2 ounces
  • Requires 2 AAA batteries (included)
  • Provides a reading in under 10 seconds
  • Measures moisture, temperature, and nutrients
  • Stores measurements in the free app

Walmart carries this handy tool, so if you want to see what the current price is and check out the buyer reviews, pop on over there.

6. AgraTronix 4-in-1 Soil Moisture Tester

There are several meters that test pH and light in addition to the moisture in the soil, but this tool takes things even further.

The AgraTronix 4-in-1 tester, available from Tractor Supply, also reveals soil temperature, which is particularly handy to know when you’re planting seeds.

A close up vertical of the packaging of Agratronix hygrometer isolated on a white background.

AgraTronix 4-in-1

Lots of growers will recommend a specific temperature for germinating seeds, but how the heck do you know what the soil temp is?

Answer: this tester. You can even swap between Fahrenheit or Celsius with the click of a button.

Moisture is provided on a scale of one to five, plus there are 12 levels of pH, and nine levels of sunlight. All of this information is provided on an LED screen with a backlight.

It has an automatic turn-off feature so you don’t run down the battery if you forget to turn it off.

This model requires one 9V battery and comes with a 30-day warranty. As with other front-facing models, it can be a bit hard to read if you’re standing above it.

AgraTronix 4-in-1 Soil Moisture Tester Specs and Features:

  • 8-inch probe length
  • Weighs 5.5 ounces
  • Requires one 9V battery
  • Readings in under a second
  • Digital, backlit screen
  • Moisture, pH, temperature, and light readings in one tool

Head on over to Tractor Supply to pick up one of your own.

7. REOTEMP Moisture Meter

The REOTEMP, available from Amazon, is made with outdoor gardens in mind. It comes with an extra-long probe stem that comes in three different lengths: 15, 24, or 36 inches.

REOTEMP Moisture Meter

The gauge adds another three inches to the overall length of the tool. These length options are ideal if you have larger perennials or if you want to test deep into your compost pile.

The gauge is on the top, so you can read it while standing above. The housing is made out of stainless steel so it can handle extreme weather and a bit of abuse. You get a reading almost instantly in under a second.

This unit requires one AAA battery to function and you can calibrate it to suit different situations.

REOTEMP Moisture Meter Specs and Features:

  • Extra-long 15, 24, or 36-inch probe length
  • Weighs 8.4, 15, or 19.2 ounces
  • Requires 1 AAA battery
  • Instant readings in under a second
  • Easy to read gauge
  • Solid construction
  • Can be calibrated

Assuming you aren’t looking for one for your small houseplants, this is a sturdy, easy to read option that has a distinct advantage: it can be calibrated by the user.

Check current prices and customer reviews now on Amazon.

8. Sustee Aquameter

If you were hoping that you could leave your soil moisture meter in the soil so that you’d know when it was time to get watering, this is the tool for you.

Sustee Aquameter

The reading that you’ll receive isn’t as specific as that of the other meters on this list. There isn’t a gauge to show you how dry or wet your soil is on a scale of one to 10.

Instead, the little glass display on the tip of the probe lets you know that it’s time to water when it turns white. If the window shows blue, there’s no need to break out the watering can.

Because this doesn’t leave much room for interpretation and it can’t be calibrated, this might not be ideal for plants that prefer extremes, such as dry soil lovers like succulents or cacti, or those that appreciate a high level of moisture like ferns or pitcher plants.

But for your average plant, it works perfectly well.

You can replace the core every six to nine months, so you won’t have to toss it out entirely if it stops reading.

Replacements are available on Amazon in packs of four in small, medium, and large.

The slim, minimalist probe was designed in collaboration with the Tokyo University of Agriculture and is hardly noticeable sticking out of the soil. It even won a Reddot Design Award in 2014.

It’s available in both white and green, so you can pick which goes better with your decor. It also comes in three lengths to fit your pot, with small 4.7-inch, medium 7-inch, and large 10-inch options. Note that the glass window takes up two inches of that measurement.

If you’re a design-minded grower, or just need a simple meter that can tell you when it’s time to water with no effort on your part, this is it.

It’s not ideal if you want to know the exact moisture level in the soil at any given time, nor if you want to be able to use one meter to check all your plants each week.

You get readings in about a minute, but this model is meant to be left in the soil full-time, so you can really just set it and forget it.

Sustee Aquameter Specs and Features:

  • 2.5, 5, or 8-inch probe length
  • Weighs 0.15, 0.2, or 0.3 ounces
  • No batteries required
  • Reads in 1 minute
  • Variety of sizes and colors
  • Can stay in the soil
  • Minimalist design

If you want something that can stay in place so you can stop worrying about when it’s time to water, this is a good choice. It’s also ideal for the design lovers out there who want something minimalist and sleek.

If you’re interested in picking one (or more) of these up, you have lots of options available on Amazon, including four-packs of the shortest 2.5-inch probe option in green or a dozen in white, packages of two small white sensors, or pack of four medium 5-inch probe sensors in white or green.

The large 8-inch probe size also comes in a pack of four white or green sensors, via Amazon.

9. Wanfei Smart Plant Monitor

Everything has gone smart these days, it seems, from our phones to our lightbulbs, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are Bluetooth-enabled soil monitors.

In addition to the moisture level in the soil, Wanfei, available via Amazon, has a sensor that lets you know what the light and temperature levels are around your plant, as well as if the nutrient level in the soil is low, medium, or high.

Wanfei Smart Plant Monitor

This helps clue you in to when it’s time to water. The app will also give you tips about your specific plant to let you know how to keep it happy.

The five-inch tool extends only three inches into the soil, so you aren’t getting a reading from deep down. It’s extremely light, however, at just 2.8 ounces.

You’ll need to have an Android or Apple phone or tablet to pair with it and it’s only intended for indoor use, so outdoor gardeners should probably look elsewhere. You also need to switch the plant setting in the app if you move the probe from one plant to another.

There are over 6,000 types of plants in the app’s database, so a large variety is covered.

This model is a bit fussy, and it’s calibrated for one plant at a time. If you want a probe that you can easily move from plant to plant, or that you can use without having your phone handy while tending to your houseplants, there are better options out there.

But there’s a lot to be said for a probe that can read all the important elements of the environment surrounding your plant, and the fact that the app can give you guidance on what your particular plant craves is exceptional.

Wanfei Smart Plant Monitor Specs and Features:

  • 3-inch probe length
  • Weighs 2.8 ounces
  • Requires one CR2032 battery
  • Provides extensive information
  • App offers tips for specific plants

See what buyers had to say and find out what the current price is on Amazon.

Buying Advice and Factors to Consider

There are dozens of options out there, including the nine picks on this list, so it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little lost.

Consider these factors when picking your moisture meter:

Before making your selection, think about your needs. Are you looking for one that can stay in the soil and that will alert you when your prized orchid is dry, without any effort on your part?

Or do you need one that you can use in your indoor herb garden and your outdoor tomato patch? Is knowing the pH of the soil or the ambient light levels important, or are you focused solely on moisture?

A close up horizontal image of a soil test meter set into the soil of a garden border with vegetation and flowers in soft focus in the background.

Next, consider how much effort you want to make. Maybe you’re willing to change batteries and calibrate a tool that gives you more accuracy. Or maybe you just want to check the general moisture content and move on.

What’s your budget? Do you want something that gives you the basics in exchange for just a little cash? Or are you willing to shell out for something a bit quicker, better made, and more accurate?

Ask yourself what’s at stake if your soil meter fails. If you are selling plants and rely on their success for your income, a reliable, accurate model that’s a bit pricier and that may last a bit longer is probably worth it.

A close up horizontal image of a soil moisture meter set in the ground next to a tomato plant pictured on a soft focus background in light sunshine.

Remember that while these are hygrometers, which are devices that measure the humidity in an object or the atmosphere, these are made specifically for measuring the moisture level in soil. 

You can’t stick any of these in a glass of water and get a reading. They must be used in soil.

Finally, note that almost all of the products on this list must be removed from the soil and cleaned after each use.

Now You’re Armed to Keep Your Plants Happy

There’s a surprising range of soil moisture meters out there, right? Practically one for every possible type of gardener.

For most people, the Hydrofarm Active Air 3-in-1 is going to be just right to get the job done. Arbico Organics has these available if you decide to bring one to your garden.

Did this guide help you to narrow down which meter you wanted to buy? If so, be sure to come back and tell us which one you picked, and what you think!

You might want to check out some of our other gear recommendations next:

Photo of author
Kristine Lofgren is a writer, photographer, reader, and gardening lover from outside Portland, Oregon. She was raised in the Utah desert, and made her way to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs in 2018. Her passion is focused these days on growing ornamental edibles, and foraging for food in the urban and suburban landscape.
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Bret (@guest_14751)
2 years ago

I think #6 uses a 9 volt battery.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  Bret
2 years ago

Do you have this model, Bret?

The packaging and the manufacturer both recommend a 12v battery for powering this product. Though I did find one reviewer online who reported using a 9v battery with this meter, I’m not sure how that would fit, since 12v batteries are round with positive and negative terminals at either end while 9v batteries typically have a square shape with both positive and negative terminals on the same end.

We’ll try to look into this a little more closely and get back to you.

Clare Groom
Clare Groom(@clareg)
Reply to  Bret
2 years ago

Hi Bret, you’re right! The manufacturer has confirmed that there was a misprint on the packaging and it does indeed use a 9V battery. Thanks for picking that up!