Hello, my name is Thiago Pantaleão and I am a science and technology teacher at the Brazilian school Escola de Inventor (http://escoladeinventor.com.br/). I came by this website looking for tips as to how to determine a plant's health in order to aid students with their IOT (Internet of Things) project for our course, in which they plan to make a camera robot that will take pictures of the plants from above to determine if they are healthy by their color. Contextualizing and refining my question, in order to get rid of any color that may influentiate the robot's judgment, I need to cover the pot's dirt so any brown detected may be an indicator of plant's health. I was wondering if a plant would thrive in such conditions, where the stem has already grown and a cover was placed around it covering the dirt. I know the system is far from perfect as it doesn't take many things into account and even doesn't take pictures from all angles, but the important thing is for the kids to develop the project, even if it does have its flaws. Any other tips would be very much welcomed, as I am far from good with plants (I really do hope intention counts) Thanks for your attention, Pantaleão.
Is Convering the Pot Around the Stem Base a Problem?
This sounds like a fun project for your students. Soil is often covered with mulch but for the plant to thrive, soil needs to breathe. So covering soil with plastic or vinyl won't work. Paper or other breathable material is OK. If the cover is wet, it should not be in contact with the plant stem to prevent the risk of rot. Plant color is influenced by amount of light, fertilizer, moisture and the temperature. Good luck controlling for all of these!