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How to mark sites of woodland plantings?

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

I have a couple of acres of woodland where I want to establish rare native plants from seed. How can I mark the planting sites so I can later locate the seedlings? I thought about burying a metal piece like a nut next to each planting and using a metal detector but don't want to "pollute" the site with buried hardware bits. Circling the hole with white playsand would work but wouldn't last long. I could plant a daffodil next to the rare one but that would multiply and I want natives only. Any creative ideas?

Craig Co., VA(Zone 7a)

Are you planting a variety of seeds. Your ideas don't say how you would know what is supposed to come up, unless you remember what you planted there.

I'm doing the same thing here in Craig Co., VA. Right know I'm just using white plastic plants tags (20 for around $3) from one of the big box stores and a Sharpe. Once things get established, I plan on making something nicer, but I haven't figured out the right marker yet.

Do a search in Ebay for "engraved trophy plate". You just need to add a stake of some kind. They should last awhile. A suprisingly cheap alternative (for what you are getting).

And do a search in the Forums of this website for "plant markers" for a bunch of ideas.

This message was edited Jan 17, 2012 8:46 AM

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

bamboo stakes for me. Not obtrusive at all.


Central, AL(Zone 8a)

Actually I have purchased a lot of ginseng seeds. I don't want to put actual ID tags there due to the potential value of the plants--only I will know, I hope!

Bamboo will rot--but that gives me an idea---I have some leftover cedar blocks from a home renovation project that might be useful.

Craig Co., VA(Zone 7a)

Oooohhhhh! Ginseng, thats a different story! Yeh, you don't want to advertise that. If your woodland does not have a lot of rock you could use rock or if it has a lot of rock, a rock of a certain color or shape, like a round river cobble.

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

Oh, that's a good Idea--some smooth stones--or slate pieces. I have a lot of rock but nothing smooth or flat.

Portage, WI(Zone 5a)

How about GPS?

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

Will it be that accurate? I recently got an iphone--have GPS and Google Earth etc. but will it let me find the spot within inches, to see if it is germinating?

Brady, TX(Zone 8a)

I've pondered this question myself -- and haven't come up with my solution yet.

Portage, WI(Zone 5a)

Some kind of obvious marker that can be easily removed later? 2 ft. straight sections of a metal coat hanger stuck vert. in the ground?

Brady, TX(Zone 8a)

Just had a thought: if individual plant info doesn't need to be put on the marker, could use any kind of rock and maybe make them show up more by spray painting a spot on the rocks.

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

That area doesn't have any smooth rocks. I might mark the sites with smooth white river rocks. Maybe put a nail into the ground under the rock so a metal detector would find it if the rock shifts.

Thanks for all the ideas!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Interesting problem. I enjoyed reading the discussion.

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

I got a new idea...Place tiny pellets of uranium next to the plants, then find them later with a geiger counter!

Portage, WI(Zone 5a)

Or, in that case, just look for the bare spots of ground.

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

Try taking pictures of the site and familiar natural markers (trees, shrubs, etc.) and mark your pictures with annotations as to how to get there. I did something like that when we first moved here. The landscape was new to me and the places had not yet become distinct in my mind, but the exercise helped me become familiar with the individuality of the plants already in existence and how to find my own plantings (many of which didn't survive long, but hopefully you'll have better luck). Once seedlings do come up, take more pictures of the seedlings in the landscape.

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

Good idea. Actually I have used a combination of these, including planting seed(s) on the south side of each mature oak--I figure the big oaks aren't going anywhere and will provide the shade that those particular plants need.

Cherry Grove, OH(Zone 6b)

We have 37 acres of woodlands. I take detailed notes of plantings using personal trail references. I use large trees, trail forks and other semi-permanent markers along with step counts to document the location. Haven't had a problem returning to the locations. With a couple of acres, you shouldn't have too much trouble.

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