Plant Markers

In one of our recent Smart Gardening Workshops, an attendee asked presenter Kerry Mendez what kind of plant markers she uses in her garden. Kerry’s response: “Actually I don’t usually use markers in my gardens, mostly because these don’t look great in photo shoots. I keep a journal and list where my plants are. There are many great plant tags out there. I know Rapiclip is one good product on the market.”

Rapiclip is one example of a plastic tag. Rustproof metal tags are also available and popular. You can either write on them with a paint marker (Sharpie makes one) or print the plant name on a paper label and tape it onto the tag with heavy-duty clear tape.

How do you keep track of your plants? Leave a comment below!


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38 thoughts on “Plant Markers

  1. I am primarily a hosta gardener. I mark all 500 plus hostas with a palm-sized river rock. I use paint pens to write the name of the hosta and also add the date planted. The paint needs touched up every three or four years.

  2. Unless you live in a dry and warm climate you will likely have to mark the plants in several ways (penennials): bury the original tag with the plant, plus mark the plant with a vinyl tag that just sticks in the ground (or use a stone, or permanent label – aluminum, SS, or my favorite is from Oakes Daylilies rigid with name panagraphed onto label mounted on about an 8 guage galvanized stake…these lasted 10 years in So Cal), plus you will need to make a map on grid paper and also take photos. I have a couple hundred paw paw aluminum labels and they are fine but fragile…the tree-trimming guys trampled the heck out of them!) I also have stones marked with a Brother label maker. This works wonderfully on a smooth surface and the lettering lasts several years but with rain and snow here in Prescott, the labels are coming off the smooth stones. Best advice for in-ground label system is Oakes Daylilies.

  3. I planted a new, and quite large bed last year. I took pictures with my digital camera from many angles so I could see how all the varieties did over the winter. I am so glad that I have this record because I lost track of some hostas and wanted to add new plants without digging up my hosta.Worked beautifully!

  4. Hi, I also take photos of my garden plantings, at different times during the growing season – I live in RI. It’s so easy with digital cameras these days to take as many shots as I think I will need. I’ve found it quite helpful to have photos of say dahlias in bloom, so that when I dig up the tubers in the Fall, I can keep the colours separate, for re-planting the next year. Also if I dig up say any spring flowering bulbs by mistake later on, I can use my images to identify the bulbs.

  5. Whenever I redecorate, I save the plastic blinds from my windows , cut them into different length strips and mark accordingly . if you do not want them show up (i.e.white), you can purchase inexpensive blinds in earth colors and mark with permanent markers . Our garden club uses these to ID perennials at our plant sales . One blind can make 100’s of markers . The strings holding them together are usually nylon, and can also be used in the garden.

  6. After trying different things over the years, this has been the most durable and least expensive. I cut markers out of aluminum drink cans. I either free hand or trace a plastic one. I cut them out with old scissors. I use fine sandpaper or brillo pad to get the painted label off. I lay the marker on a magazine. Then I use an ink pen with a fairly fine point(can even be one with no ink left in it) and emboss the plant name in it.Press down fairly hard. This will give you letters indented on the label. The other side will read backwards. I like them raised, so I write the names backwards. Sometimes I write them backwards on paper first, but after a little practice, it gets easy. That makes the words on the raised letter side read in the right direction. Sometimes I get fancy and add dots or another little design around the edge of the marker. Dots are the easiest. I know this sounds time consuming, but it’s really not. Sometimes when I have a few extra minutes, I cut a bunch out, then they are ready to write on when I get a new plant. If you don’t want them to be seen around your plants or in your pots, just push them all the way into the dirt. Since it’s embossed on, it won’t wear off. I also make round ones and punch a hole with a hole punch to wire onto rooted rose cuttings.

  7. I’ve been using the aluminum tags for my woody plants, they last a few years and for the price they seem to work well. By them by lots of 500 from Leonard’s. The price has gone up since I bought them 12 years ago. This year I’ll try strips cut from yoghurt containers and marked with permanent Sharpies. Soft iron wire should last a few years.

    Annuals/vegetables get wooden markers but we really need good maps
    and then update them.

  8. I started out well.. when I started my seeds, I drew a diagram of the 72-cell tray I was using and marked out which seeds were in which rows, with a piece of tape on one corner for orientation. Then I started planting the seedlings out.. I have a container garden on my apartment patio, and because of the small space I couldn’t get *too* confused since I was planting only one kind of most things, except for tomatoes and peppers. I have 2 kinds of tomatoes and 3 of peppers, and I stayed very organized through my main planter (a raised wooden box appx 1.5’x3′). But then I have box planters in baskets on my rail with a mix of veggies and herbs, and I kind of lost track when I got to them.. not severely, but which peppers are jalapenos or sweet peppers will be a bit of a surprise in those planters. 🙂

  9. I have tried using the common metal plant markers and find that they last about a year. I am now using stainless steel plant markers with printed lables. They are not inexpensive, but they are heavy duty and will hold up. I found out about them from a friend who manages a public garden. They are available from

  10. With my vegetables I draw a map of what is planted where and assign a number to each kind/variety of vegetable. Then I put that number on a metal plant stake and put it at the front of the portion of the bed where that plant is. This way I can use the stakes year after year even if I change what I’m planting.

    I did however make the same mistake with my tulips and daffodils a couple of years ago as the original author did and am still trying to figure out what is where.

  11. Totally pre-tech: Years ago I outlined various planting areas on graph paper, and made lots of photocopies. Now, each spring and fall, I make a new rough drawing of where I planted what–bulbs, annuals, vegetables, new perennials or shrubs. Drawings from years past always surprise me, whether it’s: I used to grow that? or I planted that shrub so long ago?

    I use labels from Paw Paw Everlast Label Company. Paw Paw, MI. Instead oof writing on the labels, I print the labels using a Brother label printer. Labels made this way are easy to read and last almost for ever. The label supports are easily removed temporarily when I want to photograph the plants.
    I’ve also created a garden plan in which each location (bed, etc.) is numbered. This plan is created in Visio (a Microsoft product) on my computer. In addition I keep a database in Access that lists all plants with their locations and, where appropriate, any special information about each plant.
    Would Horticulture be interested in publishing an article about my system?

  13. I photograph my garden and keep the pictures with a diary on my computer. I usually photograph just after I’ve planted or added something to the garden bed in spring or fall, so I know what other plants are therem too, (by their emergence or die-back).

  14. When I first moved to my present address, I came with over 300 hemerocallis and many assorted perennials. Not all of my stock but when you consider that I moved from Vancouver to Quebec it was no small feat. Since I had to get them in the ground quickly, I used the little plastic dollar store markers. The following spring, prior to the plants starting to grow, as was asked by more than one person if I had a pet cemetery because all of the little markers with names looked like little “headstones”
    I am still trying to discover a smart-looking manner to label the plants – both for myself and all of the people that walk by and wonder what is this or that. I find that having readable labels beside each plant encourages people to stop and ask gardening questions and piques their interest in various varieties. The bonus to this is that shy persons can check and make note of what they like. I should have prefaced all of this by saying I live on a large corner lot across from a park so there are always lots of people walking by.

  15. I just kind of know. I used to lay out my garden using an antiquated CAD-type software called VisioHome, but it does not work on my new computer. However, as for keeping track in the garden, I just look at the plant and know that it’s a zucchini or lettuce or tomato. Although, one year I used wooden surveying stakes (1×2 wood with a point) and wrote the names on them. They were ugly and the writing wore off very quickly. However, after reading the above posts, I really like the idea of using nice rocks as labels. That’s kind of cool.

  16. In my vegetable garden, I save the plastic knives from fast food restaurants and use a label-maker or a permanent marker to write on each. Some were left over the winter and with a quick rinse are as good as new to reuse. I break them in half to mark sections of seed-starting trays so the lids will still fit.

  17. I love to write the names on charming small rocks and stones with a permanent marker. The ink usually must be refreshed each year, but it is still legible enough to trace over. Scattering is no more of a problem than other methods used.

  18. I don’t like looking at plant markers (and spend lots of time in photoshop getting rid of them in other peoples gardens) so I like to bury the plastic plant labels that come with the plants. I push some soil or mulch aside and bury them just under the surface so you can’t see them.

    In containers I bury them, but on the sides of the container, or sometimes I put them under the container.

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