How do you label plants in your garden? Plant markers are quick and easy to make by repurposing everyday items like pebbles, bamboo skewers, corks, containers, shells, cans and even broken terracotta pots  … there are loads of creative ideas and I’ve rounded up 20 low cost and decorative DIY options to inspire you to make your own.

 

20 creative DIY ideas for making your own plant labels & markers | The Micro Gardener

I use labels regularly even though I can identify most plants in my patch.

 

My husband however … let’s just say (kindly) that he gets somewhat ‘confused’ when so many plants look similar in the garden!

 

Basil & rosemary | The Micro Gardener

This must be the explanation for why he brings in rosemary when I ask for basil (are these remotely similar??)

 

So if you are growing food (and are reliant on family members to pick your produce!); have UFOs (Unidentified Food Objects) in your garden; are learning to identify plants or save seeds; share an allotment; or want to avoid losing your bulbs every year, then plant labels are a must!

Labelling Tips & Techniques

 

1) What do you want the label to look like?

  • Do you prefer a decorative label for a special plant that doubles as garden art?
  • Or just something functional and cheap? No fuss + no frills!

2) Do you need a temporary or permanent solution?

  • Is the label only needed for the short term? (e.g. if you are raising seeds, using indoors or just one season)
  • Or do you want it to last long term? (e.g. multiple seasons, outdoors, or for a particular species in your garden)

 

Short Term Solutions: include wood (eventually breaks down) and metal (e.g. can lids will rust).

 

Wooden stake marker | The Micro Gardener

Try reusing old wire coat hangers, bamboo skewers, timber offcuts & stakes, chopsticks and wooden pegs.

 

Long Term Solutions: include plastic, painted or sealed surfaces, china or clay, tiles, stone, concrete, laminated labels, glass, stainless steel or galvanised items. Try repurposing plastic containers, paint stirrers, smooth rocks and bricks/pavers.

 

Love DIY Projects? Click for more ideas

Decorative Labels & Markers

Add a personal touch to your garden with some of these creative ideas (they also make practical gifts):

1. Blackboard Paint & Chalk … long lasting & easily changed.

 

Blackboard paint pot labels | The Micro Gardener

If you want a surface you can write on and can’t find a blackboard paint, I’ve used a non-toxic acrylic matt black paint. It does the same job and is much cheaper! Sample pots are only a few dollars and are great for small projects like this.

 

Herb chalkboard paint pot labels | The Micro Gardener

Blackboard paint pot labels – great for feature pots. There are plenty of eco-friendly paint options without the chemical ingredients in traditional products.

 

2. Hand Painted Rocks … these are long lasting & there are so many creative options!

 

Vegetable Garden Rock Signs | The Micro Gardener

These cute markers are made with a little imagination & a stencil kit.

 

Here’s another stencil idea.

 

Stone & stencil marker | The Micro Gardener

A simple stone and stencil marker.

 

This is a fun project for the kids too.

 

Hand painted rock labels | The Micro Gardener

If you’re handy with a paint brush, pick up some pebbles at the beach and create some bright garden art.

 

These classy rock markers would make a great gift.

 

Paint pebble plant markers | The Micro Gardener

Colour co-ordinate for contrast … like these black rock herb markers against the white pebbles.

 

Veggie rock garden markers | The Micro Gardener

Black on white is another version to try.

 

3. Metal Spoons – garden art in themselves! These are made using letter stamps – check out the tutorial via Bunny Hill Blog.

 

Metal spoons markers | The Micro Gardener

Whilst these might take a little more effort to make, they add a decorative vintage look to your garden.

 

Metal spoon plant markers | The Micro Gardener

Add a whimsical touch to your veggie patch with a spoon plant marker.

 

Vintage Spoon Plant Markers | The Micro Gardener

See the tutorial below for how to make these decoupage vintage spoon markers.

 

Recycled spoon garden marker tutorial | The Micro Gardener

 Recycled Spoon Garden Marker tutorial from Domestic Simplicity.

 

4. Decoupage a pot – use paper, contact, magazine pictures or even the image from your seed packet.

 

Herb garden label | The Micro Gardener

Cut out lettering and glue to your pot.

 

Cheap & Cheerful Markers

Now for some free and low cost ideas you can make with all sorts of materials easily upcycled into plant labels.

5. Terracotta/Clay Pots & China – sometimes pots and crockery break … relabel the broken shards or whole plates/pots. Here are some creative ways to use them.

 

Broken pot markers | The Micro Gardener

Made by gluing metal wire ‘stakes’ to the back. Then painted with acrylic outdoor paint & some rub on letters added & finally adhesive spray for staying power.

 

Broken terracotta pot markers | The Micro Gardener

Simple & eco-friendly. With a marker, stencils or vinyl sticky letters just add the name of the plant on the broken pot piece & pop in the ground!

 

Clay pot marker | The Micro Gardener

Up end a small pot & use a permanent marker to label. Easy!

 

6. Glass Jar + Seed Packet – I save seeds from my garden and there’s nothing worse than having an incredibly high yielding food crop and not remembering where I sourced the seed or which variety it was! Here’s a neat solution.

 

Plant marker protection | The Micro Gardener

One of the best ways to protect your seed packets with all the info you need to remember is to slide it over a stake and cover with a glass jar – plus it’s weatherproof!

 

7. Cork – save wine bottle corks or offcuts for repurposed labels like these:

 

Cork & peg markers | The Micro Gardener

Doesn’t get simpler than this! Label cork & peg to the side of your pot.

 

Cork plant label | The Micro Gardener

Stick a labelled cork on the end of a bamboo skewer = a low-cost, eco-friendly option!

 

8. Tin or Plastic Lids – next time you open a can or container, save the lid … here are some ways to reuse them.

 

Coat hanger Wire & Tin Lid Garden Markers | The Micro Gardener

Made with coat hanger wire, lids, permanent marker and some decorative beads.

 

Cutlery & tin lid label | The Micro Gardener

The letters on this label are stamped and coloured with permanent marker, then attached to a fork ‘stake’.

 

Lid plant markers | The Micro Gardener

Make these stake markers by reusing lids & gluing images from your seed catalogue.

 

9. Corflute – this is the material real estate signs are made from and can be recycled into weatherproof plant markers. These are some I made with the kids at school.

 

Lettuce garden sign | The Micro Gardener

We stapled the corflute to a timber stake & the students had great fun decorating it with sticky coloured contact, markers and buttons.

 

Potato sign | The Micro Gardener

Here we cut out the letters from sheets of contact and hot glued buttons & chenille sticks to decorate with flowers.

 

10. Print & Cover with Contact – Design your own labels on the computer, print off & cover in clear contact.

 

Make your own low-cost waterproof label with clear contact | The Micro Gardener

These are a fun waterproof label for kids to help design & cut out. Secure to a peg ‘stake’!

 

11. Ceramic Tile – Use up old tiles to make weatherproof markers.

 

Ceramic tile marker | The Micro Gardener

Painted sign on a ceramic tile.

 

12. Seed Packets & Popsicle Sticks – these markers provide you with all the plant info you need and are waterproof.

 

Seed packet labels | The Micro Gardener

Seed packets covered in contact & glued onto paddlepop sticks

 

13. Popsicle Stick Stencils – cute & colourful!

 

Popsicle stick & painted letters plant labels | The Micro Gardener

Great project for kids to make for their container garden or veggie patch using paint & stencil lettering.

 

14. Wooden Peg Markers – so convenient to use and can be pegged easily onto seed raising trays and seedling pots.

 

Peg plant markers with nailpolish | The Micro Gardener

Pegs are labelled with permanent marker & decorated with nailpolish.

 

15. Adhesive Aluminium Duct Tape – quick & easy to make.

 

Aluminum tape plant markers | The Micro Gardener

To make these neat little markers, attach adhesive aluminium duct tape to a plastic knife ‘stake’ & engrave the plant name backwards on the reverse of the label with a pen. Then it will read correctly from the front!

 

16. Plastic Plant Labels – recycle whatever materials you have access to. Milk and juice bottles or just about any plastic container with straight sides can be cut and used for labels (ice cream lids etc) or even old plastic picnic cutlery – just poke in the soil. Follow my tutorial to make your own labels from plastic bottles plus other money saving garden supplies.

 

Making plant labels, a funnel & saucers from recycled milk bottles | The Micro Gardener

I make labels by cutting the sides out of milk bottles & cutting a point in the end.

 

Plastic icecream tub plant tags | The Micro Gardener

You can just as easily make your own tag by cutting strips from a plastic icecream lid; punching a hole and using a twist tie.

 

Plastic knife plant label | The Micro Gardener

A simple painted plastic knife marker

 

17. Painted Wood – reuse timber off cuts & use up leftover external paint to fashion some simple plant labels.

 

Carrot sign | The Micro Gardener

Hand painted timber sign & stake

 

Wooden herbs plant marker | The Micro Gardener

Simple painted timber sign

 

Colourful wooden kids plant markers | The Micro Gardener

How cute are these colourful wood markers for the veggie patch?

 

Wooden plant markers | The Micro Gardener

Wooden plant markers

 

18. Wooden Spoons

 

Wooden spoon label | The Micro Gardener

Labelled with a permanent marker

 

19. Twig Labels – Prune some straight twigs and use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to slice a flat surface … use as a temporary label.

 

Twig Plant Label | The Miceo Gardener

Use a fine permanent marker on your twig label.

 

20. Shell Labels – save your shells and add a little creative flair.

 

Shell plant markers | The Micro Gardener

Decorative shell labels – glue onto a bamboo skewer or stick if you prefer

 

For identifying plants that I want to save seed from, I use a bamboo stake right next to the plant stalk. I tie my reusable label with string to the stake for easy identification.

 

Save for Seed Home Made Labels

Home Made ‘Save for Seed’ Labels – design your own on the computer, print off & laminate.

 

Save for Seed Label

These last well outdoors when laminated.

 

Labelling Tips

All surface solution – One of the best tips I can share from personal experience is to use Chinagraph, wax or grease pencils – a little known secret in the horticulture and design industries. These wax pencils can be used on just about any surface including plastic, glass, stone and metal and come in a variety of colours. The brand I use is called Lumocolor.  I’ve found yellow and white are easily visible on black surfaces while black or blue work well on pale coloured pots and terracotta. They’re cheap (especially if you buy from a wholesale art supplies store – cost me A$1.55 rather than the garden nursery – around A$3.95!) and they last a very long time so are great value.

 

Staedler lumocolor pencils are handy to use on almost all surfaces. | The Micro Gardener

They work well on seed raising trays and flats and this is important because they are always wet. The other advantage is you can remove the label by rubbing with paper towel when you want to change it.

 

Permanent Marking – I’ve tried using permanent markers and whilst they work well in dry situations (under cover or short term), it can be a struggle to stop them fading in the weather. Try coating with a clear spray varnish or a coat of clear nail varnish to seal the label.

Snap It – Keep a digital photo record of your plant labels that come with plants you buy. Store them on your computer or print off & laminate for a permanent weatherproof plant label that won’t fade. A cheaper alternative is to buy a roll of sticky clear contact paper that you use to cover books with and “laminate” your plant labels both sides – just leave a good seal around the edges when cutting to size.

 

DIY Printable Templates

 

Herb label printable template

Printable Herb labels

 

Herb label printable

DIY Herb Labels

 

I hope these ideas helped inspire you with some cheap and decorative solutions. More plant marker inspiration in DIY Repurposed Garden Projects.  What’s your favourite plant label idea?

 

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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010-2013 – http://www.themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.