Plant Markers

Houston, TX(Zone 9b)

I was reading Garden Gate (they sent me a free issue and now of course, I can't live without a subscription) and they were talking about plant markers. Their suggestion was plastic knives from the boxes of plastic silverware. I am sure that other people have thought of this, but I hadn't and thought it was great because we always run out of forks and spoons and then are stuck with a ton of plastic knives. Now I have a use for them.

Anyway, just thought I was share that in case some one else hadn't thought of it.

Hope Valley, RI(Zone 6b)

They sent me one also. Looks like another rainy day keeper.

N., CA(Zone 9a)

I just signed up a free issue of GG. Shuggins, I know that wasnt the point of your thread, but thanks for telling us they do that. (I also never would have thought of plastic knives! )

Clearwater, FL(Zone 9a)

One of my Flower flower lists suggested using mini blind slats cut to length. Which is fantastic because you can make a LONG one for outside planting or shorter one for rooting table or house plants. I took it one step further and punched a hole in the corner, did a twist tie to the folliage, now I don't have to bend over to see the tag ! Here's another suggestion: cutting strips from old clorox white bottles for making tags.... and one last suggestion... on all those plumeria "sticks" tie losely a stip of plastic grocery bag to match the flower color. For example : our local Dollar General uses YELLOW bags= tie on aztec gold plumeria or other yellow plants. One of the lady's clothing store uses PINK bags.... well you get the idea. [ worst case, use colors that are locally available and omit tagging the ones you have the most of, or recogonize without difficulty.] When I had tons of white,,,,, I didn't even mark them. I knew if there wasn't a tag it was a common white one.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I've been using miniblinds for years. My dog used to chew them up trying to get out of the house to the neighbor's dog who was in heat. One day I needed markers and I spotted the mangled blinds hanging on the window, and the idea formed.

If you'll notice, down each side of the miniblinds, the string goes thru each blind. So there's already a hole on each end of the blinds. I cut slightly past the holes so I can use the holes to tie the markers onto shrubs and trees, etc. So all the end pieces will have holes and then what I cut out of the middle won't, so I use those for pots and ground.

The problem I ran into is "permanent markers" aren't permanent. In my southern sun, the ink may last a month or two. Pencil lead is too light for me to read it clearly, so I bought a Brother PTouch labeling system and I can make permanent stickers for the markers that will last years.

Another problem I ran into is that the plastic mini blinds get brittle and break in the winter. I lucked into some of the metal blinds at a yard sale--6 sets for $4. The metal lasts forever!

But then I decided I wanted to look a little more professional so I went to and ordered zinc markers and use my Brother labels on those. Now my place looks really professional, expecially in the winter when it looks like a plant cemetary with all the little "headstones" everywhere. LOL


Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

I'm also in the hot, humid south and find it difficult to get anything remotely similar to a "permanent" marker. I have used plastic knives previously (a friend gave me a plant with a plastic knife marker and I latched onto the idea), wooden tongue depressors, and all sorts of other methods, all of which seem to fade, wash off, or decay here in the subtropics of NE Florida.

I have had some success with laminating paper tags. Laminating machines and supplies are now very cheap and can be found in Big Lots and online on eBay and other sources. I can print out from my computer a paper label and even include (front and back sides) all the information I want about the plant (e.g., medicinal uses, toxicity, when & where I got the plant, even a photo of the plant flower, etc.). Some of the laminating pouches come with holes already in them for luggage tags, etc., but you can also buy a paper punch with about a 1/16 inch punch to make a minute hole.

Next in the process is finding a metal stake that won't corrode to hang the tags on, but I found a source online for thin brass rods that I can form into a mini "shepherd's hook" and hang the tag on it. The source I found will ship any rediculously small order of metal rods with free shipping! Talk about looking professional! My tags look like they belong in a fancy botanical garden and, if made correctly, last a long time (but maybe not forever)!

The only trick is making sure there is no means of moisture making it into the completed laminated tag. Punching a very small hole or using one of the tags with pre-formed holes will help with this defect in the design. Running the completed tag through the laminator an extra pass after the hole is punched may also help seal out moisture. If there is any means for moisture to enter, the printed tag will turn into a fuzzy mess!


Clearwater, FL(Zone 9a)

Jeremy, Might I suggest attaching with metal shower curtain rings. You can find them at "everything's a dollar type stores". I use them for attaching stuff, hanging baskets and orchids on chains, tree limbs... you name it. [ shower curtain rings and clothespins... can't keep home without them ! ]
below is a "fancy type"- you DON'T need the little ball things, but these old-fashion type last forever. Check ace hardware,dollar stores,etc.

Dry Ridge, KY(Zone 6a)

Cups from the drive through fast food joints. You know, the hard plastic ones that are all over the floor of your car. Oh wait, that is my car. lol Anyway I cut these up into strips and they are great as plant markers. I orient the label away from the sun and tilted downward slightly and while I do need to bend over a bit to see it the markings stay for as long as I need them to. Once the plants get big enough they generally shade them anyway.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

Great ideas here! We ask for the extra-large cups when we order water at Micky D's (love their yogurt parfaits for a treat sometimes - and they're only a buck!). Those deep cups are nice for potting up plants which root along the stem when you plant them deeply.

Anyone used aluminum blinds for tags? The plastic miniblinds don't hold up well for me in our winters, and I figure aluminum should hold up well, plus won't rust. I bought one of the smallest Levolor aluminum blinds at Lowe's a few days ago on impulse. They were only $10, marked down, and at 28"x64", I should be able to separate them into many tags.

I've not opened the package yet, still debating on whether $10 is worth it. I'm wondering if I can emboss the words into them by writing with a ballpoint pen...That'd sure be handy.

This message was edited Jun 23, 2005 12:56 AM

Citrus Heights, CA(Zone 9b)

i recently bought a plants at a sale with both a knife and blinds as markers and was amazed at how someone could think of that!

Dry Ridge, KY(Zone 6a)

Try the Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift store for blinds. I've seen them there on occasion and you can often get them for under $1.

Hughesville, MO(Zone 5a)

GW, I have some aluminum blinds I've been debating about too. The paint markers should hold up. I too use plastic knives and cut up mini blinds. I cut an extra piece of plastic miniblinds that I super glue to the lower part of the strip that goes into the ground. You could make it double all the way up. So far some of ours have lasted thru 2 years. They certainly are cheap enough.

I go to our local grocer and get the styrofoam trays that grapes come in. They are deep enough to allow for good root systems. A piece of landscaping or heavy cloth over the slots in the bottom keeps the soil in the trays and lets excess water out. They last for years around here until the cats decide one makes a good claw sharpener.

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

I've had the same problem as Jeremy - the sharpie I used to mark plastic knives faded within a year. (daily exposure to sun and water did it)
If anyone can suggest a more permanent marker I'd love to find one.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

I need to search my old posts here, but I found a marker that holds up really well. Problem is, I can't find it in my house at the moment! I can tell you the reds fade quickly, even with this paint marker. The black kept its pigment in the sun and rain, though. I'll check my threads.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Dovey, there are specialized plant markers that are truly indelible. I get them at Hobby Lobby.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

I found my post about them...And I found my markers. Yay! They were in with my box of seeds, along with a few mini-blind scraps. I haven't started seeds indoors for 2 years, so the box o' seeds and its other contents went by the wayside.

The picture is at and you can click the link above it to access the thread it's from.

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

I found one at Target today that looks something like that.
Can't wait to try it and see how it does.

Rockford, IL(Zone 4b)

In the "Garden Art" forum, Pirl came up with a great idea for using rocks as plant markers (kudos Pirl for a great idea!)

Since it's jungle hot here today, I've been loafing in the air-con and painting away. So far I have $10 into art supplies, and I have a zillion rocks outside. I think I'll be able to do all my plants without spending another penny.

Thumbnail by sstateham
Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Sstateham, darling! You are so artistic. Maybe set up a member store and paint rocks for others?

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

Those are beautiful, sstateham! I agree, paint some rocks and sell 'em, or trade 'em for plants! :)

I have fond thoughts of Rockford, IL, by the way. A camp counselor who was very sweet to me one rough summer in the late 1970's lived there and my mom took me to meet her for lunch one time a few years later. Her name was Erin McClatchy and she went to Wheaton.

Rockford, IL(Zone 4b)

I've been in Rockford since the mid 80's. It's a great place to live, and being in the farm belt we are blessed with good dirt and good hearted people.

I don't kow that I could sell them, but I might be able to trade some for plants. I did a few more this afternoon. I started with the plants I put in this spring, since most of the tags are on my desk waiting to go into my garden file.

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

I am using the mini-blinds, but my concern was that the permanent Sharpie pen faded. This year I am using the sharpie, but after I mark it, I wait a few minutes and spray it with a lacquer

Middle, TN(Zone 6b)

I have great luck with paint pens on the blinds.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

Gloriag, I'd still be concerned with the possibility of your Sharpie writing fading. The UV light would still get through the laquer, wouldn't it?

Ripley, MS

Try a china marker or grease pencil, they hold up pretty well.

Houston, TX(Zone 9b)

Okay, well I did something different because the sharpie marker didn't hold up any time (just like everyone said). I have a cheap hand engraver, but no nice plant markers right now to engrave, so I too the plastic silverware (which I already had) and engraved the name on there. Then just used a crayon to shade over it and make the letters show up. When the crayon wears off, the labels is still permanently on the marker. It's not perfect, but will work until I can order the nicer plant markers and engrave them. Besides if I end up pulling something out of my beds, I haven't wasted a nice marker.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

I bought an inexpensive set of the smallest aluminum mini-blinds Lowe's carried, on sale. There are 81 slats in the assembly, so cut into thirds, that's a lot of markers! I use Zip Painty oil-based paint markers on them. The red doesn't hold up too well (red is a pigment notorious for fading), but the black does well.

(Zone 9a)

Michael's, A.C..Moore and other hobby stores have a paint pen that works very well for me. It is a DecoColor Extra Fine Point and I have used this pen on plastic, wood and metal labels. Many years ago I read an article with "hints from the professionals" and Tiny Avant recommended these markers. I have been using them ever since and they never fade, not even in my hot, hot coastal Carolina climate. The exta fine point is often harder to find then the regular fine point but I prefer it for neatness. When I do see them I buy 2 or 3.

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

Thanks, Ardesia, and others here, for the tips on what pens will work. I do need to get something permanent. I currently have about 20 orchids I bought last year on eBay (didn't expect to win them, but the high bid was only about $5 and I had bid that much at the beginning of the auction), with tags that are fading into nothingness. I used one of the Sharpie "permanent" markers on wooden tongue depressors, and that method didn't hold up at all. If I don't redo the tags soon, I'll never be able to figure out which orchid is which!

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Investing in a Brother Ptouch labelmaker is one of the best things I've ever done. I can print one label and never have to worry about it fading again. I had spoken with professional daylily growers about their labelling systems and that's what they told me they used. One reported that 5 years later, the brother label still looked as good as new.

I recently inherited a bunch of named daylilies from a local daylily hybridizer who had died. When I was digging up his daylilies, I found that he had DOUBLE-TAGGED them. Above ground, he had a nice zinc marker with a brother label denoting the name. And when I dug, I found another vinyl wrap-around plant tag intertwined in the roots with the name there too. I thought that was a marvelous idea. If the metal marker disappears, you can dig up the plant and find its name underground. So that's what I'll be doing from now on. I just ordered 1000 of the vinyl wraparound tags and will soon begin double tagging my massive collections.

Bethel, OH(Zone 6a)

Did you just use regular paint pens and then spray with clear coat. They are just beautiful.
I might do this with all my plants. They would look great when it is wintertime here in Ohio.


west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Here in Houston anything you use to write with fades within 3 months.

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

i swear by the decomarker paint pens. i have tags in my gardens that are 3 years old now that look like they did when i wrote on them.

i got my brother marker for free!!! the day after thanksgiving sales, had one and you sent in the rebate form and you ended up getting it for free. now that is my kind of deal. you won't get the latest model, but i didn't care, i liked the price. :-) i got mine at either staples of officemax. i love shopping that day. if your good about the rebates, which they make very easy, you get a lot of stuff for free or very little monies. we have gotten 2 computers for free this way. of course if you want the good stuff like the computers, you have to camp out in the cold, here in new england, and wait in line. last year we were at best buy at 3 a.m. and were about 15th in line. we waited 4 hours for the store to open, but you figure those 4 hours yielded a new computer system, those were 4 hours well spent. they also had lap tops for $500, after rebates. abouot 6 a.m. they came out with coffee and started passing out the flyer you would need to get your computer etc. you took the flyers you wanted and they went down the line until all the flyers were gone. if you were the next in line, you missed out, unless someone had taken an extra flyer they didn't need and somehow you get it from them or a sales associate who is working the line, whole hang onto them for folks who are looking and are smart enough to ask.
i love rebate shopping. i've gotten a lot of good gifts this way too.
debi & franklin

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

I use a P-Touch and do like it, but I haven't used it enough yet to really give a review.

Hey Debi Z, I too have been up at the crack of dawn to get to Sears and buy my husband some tools that were special price the day after Thanksgiving.... But what I don't understand is the line I see at stores where everything they are selling and the specials that they are having are available online!? For example ToysRUS?? All their special prices are available online and sometimes free shipping too, but folks are out there at 4AM?? Must be missing something... either me or them :)


Porterfield, WI(Zone 4b)

DecoColor Opaque Paint Markers are the way to go, used them for several years, on mini blinds, and they look like the day I did them. There are several widths for as fine as you want to write. Legit

Moon Twp, PA(Zone 6a)

debi & franklin,
IF you will let me know the next time you see a computer for free after rebate, I will be there waiting in line too!! ~ Suzi :)

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

yep, that happens too. some folks don't have computers, i would imagine and to me there is just something fun about getting out there with the crowds and getting a good deal. making out your plan of attack and deciding what is #1, 2, 3...etc on your list. sometimes being surprised that you 1. didn't get it because you were #51, or getting something at 8 a.m. when you thought they would be gone for sure, like the p-touch labelers. :-)
oh yes, and then there are always the free things that some stores give away that are fun to try and get.
well, i guess some of us are just crazy bargain hunters in the stores and on the computers. don't you just love a bargain?????? only way to shop as far as i'm concerned.
you've got to get the thanksgiving paper and check out the big places like circuit city, best buy, etc.... then set the alarm, bring a chair and something warm to drink and your all set. if you bring a friend with you, you can take turns keeping warm in the car. :-)
debi z & franklin

Clearwater, FL(Zone 9a)

Something that I've used successfully is the slats from mini-blinds.

They are indestructable !.... and the BEST PART is : generally free.

[ just look for them on garbage day pickups at curbside ! ] I cut them into what ever size I need and even have them as "extras" when selling or giving away a plant to remind someone of the name or sun/shade, etc.

I use the part with the hole [ where blind strings go thru ] with a twist wire to HANG onto a plant that I want to identify or keep track of for some reason.

I also have used one of these pieces with a hole with an EXTRA long blind slat to remind me to keep checking a seed pod that's not quite ripe.... lol , these things hanging in the garden DO get your attention. White ones of course are best to write names, etc. on, but a family member suggested color ones for seed pod watching... hey it works !

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

I have used the vinyl miniblinds and find that they get brittle over an Ohio winter. People who live in freeze zones may not want to use them. I do use white aluminum miniblinds, though, and they've held up great! Even if you buy a new one, they're under $5 and you can get dozens of markers out of them. You can also emboss into them.

This message was edited Nov 10, 2008 2:42 PM

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

Oh, I meant to add, the EK Success Zig Painty markers work great! They dry pretty quickly and they last well on the aluminum and other non-porous surfaces.

Thumbnail by gardenwife

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