I finally splurged and bought aluminum tags to permanently ID my plants. Now, here's my first stupid question for the day. What do I use to write on them? Am I supposed to engrave them or etch them with something? Will a Marks-a -lot stay on? The guy at the nursery said to use a pencil, but it doesn't show up.
I'd go to Michael's (or other local craft store) and get yourself a paint pen. Or else there are garden markers that look a little like Sharpies that you can use too (don't use Sharpies--the sunlight will fade them pretty quickly). You can buy the garden markers from many online nursery supply catalogs, or you local nurseries may have some. I'd be surprised if Marks a Lot markers would do any better than Sharpies (probably not even as good) so I wouldn't recommend them.
Anne, I've never tried a Marks-A-Lot but have tried pencils with awful results and also fat and thin Sharpies. You're right, ecrane3, it's just a matter of time before the sun fades the writing. My personal preference is a P-Touch label maker made by Brother. The replacement tapes aren't cheap but the labels I made last year still look brand new.
The p-touch brothers plastic covered lables are still as good as new after 5 yrs in the sun and rain. I even put the date and name of who or where I got it. Kind of expensive but a permanent record. I also drill a hole in every pot to attach the tag with wire. This way if I hire someone to move my plants they can't loose the lable. I have not had any luch with pencils or markers.
I just got some copper tags and I think this method might work on aluminium. I just take a ballpoint pen and write on them what ever I want to know. It embosses onto the copper. No fading or washing away. I have both tags for the big perennials and also marker to put into the dirt by the plant.
I bought aluminum flashing at Lowe's for about $10. It comes in rolls of about 12x20 so makes lots of labels. Then I type out on computer the plant name to the size and font I want. Using a paper cutter I cut the aluminum to the desired size. Then tape the paper with name to the aluminum to keep it centered and straight. I go over the name with an electric engraver I already owned. Then go over it with a black paint pen I bought at Walmart. I use a paper punch to punch two holes in top center of label. Wire label to plumbing pipe cut to desired length. The pipe I also bought at Lowe's for $10 or $12. It comes in 6 foot length. It's permanent and easily read.
I'm also a fan of P Touch. I got the one that makes laminated labels. I put the name of the cultivar on the front. On the back I put whatever info I think might be useful- color, height, bloom period- so I can be reminded without having to go in and look it up. I also put the year and where it came from. I usually make them at night while watching TV. Keeps me from falling asleep, lol.