Using a moisture meter helps you monitor hydration levels to tend to your plants with better precision. These small handheld devices measure the moisture content in your plant’s soil, letting you know when it's time to water and how much. This not only can help you keep your plant hydrated but also avoid overwatering, which can be dangerous.
We researched dozens of the best moisture meters available online, evaluating them for ease of use, accuracy, and value. Our top pick, the XLUX Soil Moisture Meter, has a sensing probe, an easy-to-read analog display, and delivers fast, accurate readings.
XLUX Soil Moisture Meter
No batteries required
Not suitable for packed/hard soil
No special features
For a reliable moisture meter that doesn’t require any upkeep or special care, this tool from XLUX is perfect. It measures the moisture in the soil continuously, displaying the results on a 1 to 10 analog scale. The needle moves from red (dry) through the green zone (moist) to blue (wet). You should only use it for an hour at a time to check soil rather than monitor it all of the time.
The 7-inch probe is not made for extreme conditions, but this is rarely an issue since most plants that you monitor aren’t made for extreme conditions, either. Just be sure to maintain a gentle touch when you first put it into the soil, or it may become damaged.
This moisture meter doesn’t have any special features but is the best at doing exactly what it is designed to do: measure moisture.
Price at time of publish: $25
Moisture Range: 1 to 10 | pH Range: Not applicable | Frequency: Intermittent use (up to one hour) | Update Rate: Continuous
Dr. Meter Soil Moisture Meter 2-Pack
No batteries required
No special features
For less money than some of the individually sold moisture meters, this twin-pack from Dr. Meter is a budget-friendly garden tool that provides a reliable reading. Because it comes in a 2-pack, you can test multiple plants at once (or keep a spare to use in case one gets lost).
It measures the water level using a single probe and displays it from 1 to 10. The color coding helps make the entire process very simple and intuitive.
While this product doesn’t include any special features and only measures moisture, if you're looking for something simple that will get the job done, this meter is for you.
Price at time of publish: $28
Moisture Range: 1 to 10 | pH Range: Not applicable | Frequency: Intermittent use | Update Rate: Continuous
Best Digital Display
ECOWITT Soil Moisture Meter with LCD Display
This moisture meter includes an intuitive digital display that helps keep your soil’s moisture levels right where they need to be. Simply put the probe into your soil and use the separate digital display unit to track moisture from up to 300 feet away. You need two AA batteries (not included) to use this meter.
We especially like the flower pot icon, which provides a great visual representation of the moisture in the soil as a percentage of the overall pot.
The probe itself is not particularly long, just 3 inches, so this doesn't work well for large plants whose roots go down into a deep pot. However, it’s perfect for small plants, seedlings, and seeds, which are all sensitive to growing conditions.
Price at time of publish: $37
Moisture Range: 0 to 100 percent | pH Range: N/A | Frequency: Continuous | Update Rate: 72 seconds
Best for Outdoors
Kensizer Soil Tester
Measures moisture, pH, and light
Two display size options
This moisture meter does more than just monitor water. It also tests pH and light, using its two probes and light sensor to provide readings to the analog display. The probes are 7.9 inches long, making the Kensizer Soil Tester a good option for larger outdoor plants that have bigger root structures and are often placed within larger planters or in-ground.
The Kensizer is available with a small 2-inch display or a medium 2.8-inch display. This can help growers keep track of their testing, even in larger garden beds or fields.
It does have two probes, one to measure pH and one to measure moisture, so be careful when inserting it near sensitive roots.
Price at time of publish: $21
Moisture Range: 1 to 10 | pH Range: 3 to 10 pH | Frequency: Intermittent use | Update Rate: Continuous
Best for Monitoring
Mosser Lee Soil Master Moisture, Light, & pH Meter
Measures moisture, pH, and light
No batteries required
Alternatives cost less
To test everything under the sun (actually, including the sun) in your garden, the Mosser Lee Soil Master Moisture, Light, & pH Meter is a great choice. It monitors water, sunlight, and pH to ensure that your growing conditions are ideal.
The probes measure pH and moisture level within the soil, while a light sensor on the display unit measures sunlight in the environment. Simply toggle between the three options to get your reading.
This meter is a good value, considering the many features it includes. It does have two probes to measure pH and water separately. While this increases the product's accuracy, it also is more likely to damage sensitive root structures than a single-probe moisture meter.
Price at time of publish: $13
Moisture Range: 1 to 10 | pH Range: 3.5 to 8 pH | Frequency: Intermittent use | Update Rate: 60 seconds
Best with Long Probe
TEKCOPLUS Long Soil Tester
No batteries needed
Alternatives cost less
This moisture meter's 11.6-inch-long probe gets deep into the soil for a highly accurate reading for outdoor spaces or large pots. It can measure moisture and pH. One of the best features is the dial face, which makes it easy to see the reading, even when the probe is deep in the ground.
Like most long-probe moisture meters, this is a more expensive option, so make sure that you need this kind of monitoring before investing in this larger garden tool.
Price at time of publish: $58
Moisture Range: 1 to 8 | pH Range: 3 to 8 pH | Frequency: Intermittent use | Update Rate: Continuous
Best for Compost
REOTEMP Garden and Compost Meter
Moisture measured only at probe tip
Compost has its own unique moisture needs, and a simple garden meter may not be enough to accurately track moisture in a compost environment. The REOTEMP stainless steel Garden and Compost Meter has a robust 15-inch probe, with a diameter of 5/16 inches—perfect for reaching into a compost pile to get a good reading.
The manufacturer notes that this product measures moisture only at the tip of the probe. However, we note that this hasn't affected its performance when used to check composting.
It includes no special features or tracking beyond providing a moisture reading on a 0 to 10 scale. You'll need one AAA battery to use this moisture meter, which is included.
Price at time of publish: $38
Moisture Range: 0 to 10 | pH Range: Not Applicable | Frequency: Continuous | Update Rate: Continuous
WANFEI Plant Monitor Soil Test Kit Intelligent Sensor
Lots of data
Not Alexa compatible
If you love modern garden design, the WANFEI Plant Monitor Soil Test Kit can be a welcome addition to your gardening tools. Gently insert this 6-inch probe into your soil, and the long stripe sensor quickly tells you whether your plant needs watering. You also can use this ultra-sleek tracker to monitor water, as well as light, temperature, humidity, and nutrients. You can use the same unit to monitor data in all your indoor plants by just removing and re-inserting it.
Where this product distinguishes itself is its use of the internet to help you be a better plant When you connect this product via Bluetooth to your smartphone, you can plug into the company's database of more than 6,000 plants, and you can save your plants' records in the company’s app. You can track them over time and even look at trends, as well as recommended changes.
The manufacturer limits the WANFEI Plant Monitor Soil Test Kit for indoor use.
Price at time of publish: $33
Moisture Range: Not listed | pH Range: Not listed | Frequency: Continuous | Update Rate: Continuous
What to Look For in a Moisture Meter for Plants
Electronic vs. Manual
Moisture meters come with digital or analog displays. Digital displays use electronics to communicate data, while analog displays transmit that data on a gauge. Generally, adding electronics introduces more opportunities for glitches; that’s why we usually prefer an analog tool for rugged, outdoor areas. Analog moisture meters are more durable because they don’t have as many intricate, delicate parts that can be negatively impacted by the elements or conditions.
The exception to this is if you want to set up a smart system to keep track of your plant’s health. Smart moisture meters can provide valuable data on how much water and sunlight your plant is getting over the long term. This can help you better understand your growing conditions, especially if you are in a new home or establishing a garden in a new part of your yard or home.
Moisture meter probes range from just a few inches long to over 2 feet. The size you need depends on your plants, their growing conditions, and your budget.
Large plants almost always have larger roots than small plants, which means you need a longer probe to accurately measure the moisture these roots receive. If you grow plants outside in the ground or in large containers, a longer probe gives you more insight into the growing media's overall moisture levels. Moisture meters with long probes can be pricey, so we recommend purchasing one only if you need that extra length. Otherwise, buy a spare moisture meter with a short or medium probe.
Some moisture meters do more than just measure the water in the soil: They also can keep track of pH levels, fertilization, and sunlight. Having information about which plants are getting enough sunlight or when you need to adjust the pH of your soil with additives can help keep your plants in tip-top shape. Be ready to pay a few more dollars for moisture meters with these extra features.
How do you read a moisture meter for plants?
Usually, analog moisture meter scales range from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning the least moisture. Digital moisture meters often have a number rating; sometimes it is on a 1 to 10 scale, as analog meters, while other digital moisture meters may display this reading as a percentage.
Many plant moisture meters include color-coding on the dial to show you when the soil is particularly dry (red), good (green), or too wet (blue). This helps make reading a plant moisture meter very intuitive and simple.
How accurate are the readings on moisture meters for plants?
Most moisture meters for plants are pretty accurate; more intervals on the scale translate into increased accuracy. Also, longer probes can help increase accuracy, especially in areas where the plants have deep roots or the soil is deep.
Generally, double-probe moisture meters are more accurate, especially if they measure multiple attributes such as pH. Having separate probes ensures each is designed and performing ideally for that particular reading. However, additional probes also mean another way to disturb sensitive roots, so be careful as to where you insert such a product.
Some moisture meters also include calibration, which lets you set the scale to a particular reading the meter then uses as a basis for future readings. Smart moisture meters can be set to a particular plant, with readings based on that species' ideal growing conditions.
Can you use moisture meters for plants indoors and outdoors?
Most moisture meters can be used on indoor and outdoor plants. However, moisture meters with electronics don't resist the elements as well as analog products. And since electronic moisture meters tend to cost more than their analog counterparts, it makes more sense to restrict electronic moisture meters to indoor use, to make them last longer.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Katie Melynn, who has grown plants in multiple states and environments, with her three children alongside. As a self-described “lazy gardener,” she loves tools that take some of the guesswork out of caring for her plants.