Looking for some inspiration for DIY plant labels? Plant markers are quick and easy to make. Try 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 options to inspire you to make your own DIY plant labels.
My husband, however … let’s just say (kindly) that he gets somewhat ‘confused’ when so many plants look similar in the garden!
Plant labels are a must 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!
Plant Labelling Tips & Techniques
1) What do you want the plant label to look like?
- Do you prefer a decorative marker 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 DIY Plant Label Solutions
These include wood (eventually breaks down) and metal (e.g. can lids will rust).
Long Term DIY Plant Label Solutions
These 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.
Decorative Labels & Markers
Add a personal touch to your garden with some of these creative ideas (they also make practical gifts):
1. Blackboard Paint and Chalk. These are long lasting and easily changed. You have plenty of scope for getting creative with this one.
2. Hand Painted Rocks. These are long lasting and there are so many creative options! Use a fine paint brush and acrylic non-toxic paint.
Here’s another stencil idea.
This is a fun project for the kids too. Could keep them occupied for hours!
These classy rock markers would make a great gift. Painted black with a packet of chalk, it’s a wonderfully easy DIY plant label gift idea for gardeners.
3. Metal Spoons. Whilst this takes a little more skill and you need a letter stamp kit, these stamped spoon plant markers are garden art in themselves! They are made using letter stamps. Check out the tutorial via Bunny Hill Blog.
Recycled Spoon Garden Marker tutorial from Domestic Simplicity.
4. Decoupage a pot. Use paper, contact adhesive, magazine pictures or even the image from your seed packet.
Cheap and Cheerful DIY Plant Markers
Now for some free and low cost ideas you can make with all sorts of materials, all easily upcycled into plant labels.
5. Terracotta/Clay Pots and China. Sometimes pots and crockery break. Don’t despair! It may be an opportunity in disguise. I’m often upcycling broken pots in creative ways for my garden. Add a label to the broken shards or whole plates/pots. Here are some creative ways to use them.
7. Cork. Save wine bottle corks or off cuts for repurposed plant labels like these:
8. Tin or Plastic Lids. Next time you open a can or container, save the lid. Here are some ways to reuse them to label your plants.
9. Corflute. This is the material real estate signs are made from. After use, the signs can be recycled into weatherproof plant markers. These are some I made with the kids at school.
10. Print and Cover with Contact. Design your own labels on the computer, print off and cover in clear contact.
11. Ceramic Tile. Use up old tiles to make weatherproof markers. Most tiling shops have a throw away bin with odds and ends. These can be painted or stencilled with plant names and pictures.
12. Seed Packets and Popsicle Sticks. These plant markers provide you with all the plant information you need and are waterproof.
13. Popsicle Stick Stencils. Cute and colourful!
14. Wooden Peg Markers. Pegs are so convenient to use and cheap. They can be pegged easily onto seed raising trays and seedling pots.
15. Adhesive Aluminium Duct Tape. This is quick and easy to make.
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. You can also use ice cream lids 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.
17. Painted Wood. Reuse timber off cuts and use up leftover external paint to fashion some simple plant labels.
18. Wooden Spoons. If yours have seen better days or the handle breaks, find a new use outdoors as a plant label.
19. Twig Labels. Prune some straight twigs or thin branches. Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to slice a flat surface. As the wood will decompose in the weather, use it as a temporary label.
20. Shell Labels. Save your shells and add a little creative flair. Cover with a clear gloss if you wish.
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.
Tips for DIY Plant Labels
All surface solution – One of the best tips I can share from personal experience is to use Chinagraph, wax or grease pencils. This is 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. 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.
Permanent Marking. I’ve tried using permanent markers outdoors but how long they last depends on your climate. Whilst they work well in dry situations (under cover or short term), it can be a struggle to stop them fading in strong sun or wet 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 and 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. “Laminate” your plant labels both sides – just leave a good seal around the edges when cutting to size.
DIY Printable Templates
I hope these ideas helped inspire you with some cheap and decorative solutions for DIY plant labels. More plant marker inspiration in DIY Repurposed Garden Projects. What’s your favourite plant label idea?
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