Plant Tags


I'm not a beginner gardener, last yr someone told to me to find like a window blind an use a permanent magic marker to put the names of the plants on them an to cut the blind apart but this yr. most of them you can't read an I an have 32 just in rose bushes, then probably at least 100 or more different plants, I started doing the painted rocks, so please help someone what is a good way to mark plants that will last more than 1 year?

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

I believe what nursery folk use is a grease pencil, but whatever it is I'm told that either that or regular pencil last the longest.

Hope that helps. Losing track of identities is a pain.


Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

oilpainter2, you could also try engraving thin metal. You can buy plant tags that can be engraved with a ball point pen. I've never tried this but maybe pieces of tinfoil would work the same at a lower cost. One year I colored bamboo skewer sticks with permanent markers and wrote down on a piece of paper what plants the different colors were, and I also marked some by cutting the bamboo.

Nancy Groutsis

North Brunswick Town, NJ(Zone 7a)

I've used the same idea as dogooder, but with colored drinking straws. I wrote in a notebook what each color and/or shape of the straw was to each plant type. You can use different types of straws as well, which isgreat if you have alot of plants. there are straight or flex straws, fat or thin, etc, then you can code each one. Ex: red flex straw = snap dragon... Etc.

Just an idea, hope it helps.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

I think it depends on what marker you use.
The black Sharpies tend to last the longest. Red fades the fastest.
Turn the tag so the writing is in the shade (North side of the plant).

If you can find the industrial/restaurant aluminum foil that might hold up. I get it at Smart 'n' Final.
If I was going to try this I would fold it until there were perhaps 3-4 layers, and a very sturdy edge.
Punch a clean hole through it, so there are no angled or torn places to start a tear.

I have used popsicle sticks to mark vegetable seedlings, but they do not last out in the garden. I can reuse them several times for the seed trays, though.


Spray-paint Bamboo sticks and ONE SIDE of many clothes pins using various BRIGHT colors according to however many plant types. Then, label the clothes pine OTHER SIDE with plant name as you pin the STICKS. Make a log with color and plant type. Do more label sticks each year. The sticks may last 2 years, then they may need to be shortened by the amount in the ground as they do rot. Birds like to land on them so try not allowing markers to stick up much.
Happy pinning!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Here we use MARKER PENS, these are the type you use for laundry, or freezer markers, used for writing on the freezer bags or cartons.
I use these and to be absolutely honest, these pens are only readable for up to 2-3 years HOWEVER, my last purchase was a labelling machine, it is lust a bit larger than a hand held calculator we all used many years ago for maths work Ha, Ha, Ha, for me that was a century ago LOL.
The machine was very cheep, about 20 dollars equivalent to your Dollar/ our pound sterling.
Maker is Brother, it does capital and lower key letters and also select the size of print you require.
What I have done is make or buy your plant tags and after printing out the label, peel the back off and it self sticks to the label you choose,

I also buy labels on line from a horticultural supply company and order them by the hundreds per pack, it's cheaper, free postage and can be colour coded or different sizes too.

Maybe this can help you out, also last time I visited USA, these machines were displayed on that famous store that sells office stuff but were slightly more expensive, I've put it to good use in the home too for things like kitchen cupboards different floor, herbs and lots of stuff that I empty into containers so you will get a lot of use from the one machine, also maybe share the cost with a friend But to be honest, it's one of the best things I ever purchased for garden with regards to the amount of uses it has.
Good luck and best regards.

Royal Oak, MI(Zone 6a)

If you bury the black Sharpie writing in the ground (or write on both ends), it won't disappear as quickly as in the sun. Pencil does last longer than marker, is cheap, and is easy to use.

I wrote on a few test aluminum tags with paint pens last year; so far, none of them has faded or flaked. Here's a pic from last summer.

Thumbnail by Eleven
Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

The 'grease pencil' I used to use in the nursery trade was the brand name 'Listo Lead'.
I wrote signs for the plants on shiny plastic and on matte textured plastic signage.
The shiny plastic could be wiped off but the matte finished plastic signs could not. They lasted for several years. Eventually they would weaken in the sun and crack. The writing was faded by then, too.

poole, United Kingdom

I use ordinary white plastic labels but prefer the longer/stronger ones. I use pencil to write the plant name as I find it lasts longer On the reverse side I put the number of the plant as per my database for this I use nail polish. Not very often do you lose both bits of information. You can of course use any colour nail polish !!!

Portage, MI(Zone 5b)

I buy zinc plates on hairpins from Paw Paw Everlast. Then I print an adhesive label using my Brother P-touch label maker (with my computer), black print on clear tape. Clear weatherproofing tape goes on top to help cut the damage from the sun. [I think this was a reader tip in Fine Gardening or Horticulture magazine many years ago.] For many plants, I include some care info, height and spacing, and so on, along with the name.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

A reasonable source for labels is old window blinds. They are fairly sturdy but can be cut with scissors. The curved shape helps them to stand up.
What you choose to write with then depends on what sticks to this material.

(Chris), IA(Zone 5a)

I'm so glad I found this thread :)

I already have a Brothers label maker, but I had been uncertain what to use for the "stick". I'm leaning towards the window blind and then put the weatherproofing tape over the label.

My question: where would I find the tape or can I just use clear lacquer spray paint over the label. Which would work better in your opinion.


Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Try the clear laquer spray, then turn the label away from the sun. Some of these 'paint sealer' sorts of things will yellow in the ultra violet. Or make sure the product you use is outdoor rated.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I use eon plant markers and brother ptouch weather resistant tape. I make two stickers and put one on both the front and back of the plate.
I have also bought the soft engraveable aluminum plant tags and they have done alright. You just use a ball point pen and press firmly as you write~the impression won`t wear off.

(Chris), IA(Zone 5a)

Good suggestions - thanks! I found a brand new mini-blind at our local "Stuff" store for $2.50, so I'm going to give this a try. I didn't realize that Brothers made a weather resistant tape, so now I'll look to see what I bought (since I originally bought the label maker for plant markers, maybe I lucked out and got the right tape LOL)

I also found a great tutorial on how to make markers out of mini-blinds, so that makes it even easier! :)

Portage, MI(Zone 5b)

The weatherstrip tape can generally be found at Lowe's or Home Depot. it is for sealing cracks in window panes, sealing gaps around windows & storm windows. I have one roll going that is Frost King brand, and a spare unopened roll is MD Window Transparent Weatherstrip Tape 04630, price sticker $7.39 for the roll 2 inches by 100 feet, bought a couple of years ago. One disadvantage of the weatherstrip tape is that it makes the labels shiny, detracting somewhat from the beauty of the garden.

My suspicion about the window blind material is that it may become brittle and breakable and won't last as many years as the zinc labels. That being said, the zinc labels bend if they get stepped on, and sometimes the Brother tape cracks up from weathering. Nothing is forever.

By the way, the labels that come with plants at the time of purchase can be slipped inside sheet protectors, secured in place with a tiny piece of tape, and stored in a ring binder. This is an idea I cribbed from a man whose garden was on one of local garden tours years ago.

(Chris), IA(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the info - I had forgotten that I already had acrylic spray paint, so I used that. The tags are now ready to go into the ground :)

We too keep the store tags, but just in a manila folder. I've used those over and over during the summer months.

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