I am the first to admit that I am a slacker in this department. I always seem to forget about plant labels until after I have planted my seeds, and by the time I get around to it, I have forgotten what I planted where.

It’s really surprising how fast you forget what you did 4 days ago.

What usually happens is that I plant 4 of the same thing (this year it was zucchini and okra) and forget the lesser loved or used vegetables. 

The upside is that I end up with lots of what I love but I do like to try new things and enjoy cooking with a wide variety of ingredients.

I have vowed to make sure I have an abundance of plant tags available for use before I plant my next round of vegetables in the next few weeks so I decided to dig deeper into what options are available. I didn’t want to buy labels for a number of reasons such as upcycling is cheaper, better for the environment, fun and I get exactly what I want. Not to mention that I don’t have to wait for them. 

In my pursuit to find the best option for my garden, I discovered so many creative and cheap ways to make my own. I want to share what I found so you can make your own too. 

Firstly we need to decide what we need them for. Is it seedlings in a seed raising pot where a smaller label would be better, seeds or seedlings planted directly in the garden and if they are perennial or annuals? What information will you want to put on your label? Species, date planted, harvest due? This will determine what size you want to use. Do you want permanent or reusable labels vs tags that will eventually degrade back into the ground over time? 

Oh, the other consideration is, do you want pretty and practical or no-frills basic? 

Here is my top 10 list of great options.

1.Upcycled plastic 

Cutting up used soft drink bottles or even ice cream container lids and using a permanent marker is a great way to quickly and easily label your plants. It’s no-frills, no cost and super fast option. It’s permanent and reusable. 

2. Tin can lids

The next time you open a can save the lid and use it in the garden. You can punch a hole in the to and add cute decorative additions like little bells or crystals. These are great if you want to make the lettering big and you can label both sides. Wire coat hangers are great for making a stand or you can bend the tines of old forks, put it in the garden upside down and use this to slide your newly made tin lid plant label into. 

3. Timber

This isn’t very innovative but it works. Timber stakes, old decking boards, timber offcuts or even small tree branches that you can use a knife to slice lengthwise to make a flat area to write on will work.  Using a permanent marker or paint you will know what you have planted where in no time.  These will last a few seasons but they will eventually break down.

4. Painted rocks

This is such a cute idea. As long as your rocks are big enough for you to paint then you have a great option. Think how creative you can get. You could choose a theme, have them all different colours or just paint the vegetable or fruit itself onto the rock. Be sure to use non-toxic paint suitable for outdoor use and they will last forever.

5. Glass Jars

If you are like me and have a thing for keeping glass jars this may be a good answer. A sturdy stick or timber stake, the empty packet of seeds you planted and a glass jar. Put the stake in the ground, put the empty packet over the stake and put the glass jar over it. Now you have all the plant information right there in the garden. It’s waterproof as long as you keep it well off the ground so no water can splash up into the jar. 

6. Laminated labels

Design your own labels and print and laminate them. Either make generic labels with a space to write on the laminate what you planted or prefill the plant information before printing. Or, why not do both? You can tie them to the plant with plant ties or to a stick if you are labelling seedlings. 

7. Old crockery

This is the ultimate in upcycling. Use broken or chipped crockery in the garden to label your plants. Plates, teacups, saucers, bowls or any broken ceramic or earthenware can make a quirky plant identifier. 

8. Chalk paint your pots

This is great for seedling pots or if you are container gardening. Chalk paint is low cost and you can wipe it off and start again each season. The only downside is that if your labels get wet you may have to re-write your labels a few times throughout the growing season. 

9. Pegs

Using wooden pegs you can write directly onto the peg itself, use a fine tip marker or it might bleed and become illegible. Another great way to use pegs is to glue your laminated labels to it. These are great for seed raising or small pots. 

10. Ceramic tiles

Do you have tiles leftover from your last renovation? This is a great way to use them up. If not, you can hit up your local recycle yard for a box of old tiles or tile shops often have a box of discontinued tiles sitting out the back. You may be the one to save them from landfill. You can paint or for a more uniform effect use stencils.

You can use just about anything if you are creative enough. Look around your home for items that are no longer needed or used. That old CD collection that sits collecting dust. What is hiding in your utensil draw? Broken spatula, tongs or wooden spoons? Do you have any old plastic knives or plates that you bought years ago but never used? Maybe like us, you love your wine and have the odd wine bottle you could put upside down on a stick? Collect take away coffee cup lids from everyone in the office and use those. Do you have a bunch of zoo animal toys that your child doesn’t play with anymore? A coat of spray paint and a marker and you have yourself a very cool plant label. 

More Information

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Keeping chickens is so much easier than you think!

Download my simple beginners 'chicklist' to get you started.

Keeping chickens is so much easier than you think!

Download my simple beginners 'chicklist' to get you started.

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