Google+

20 Creative DIY Plant Labels & Markers

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?

 

If you don’t want to miss future posts, subscribe to my newsletter at the top of the page (and grab your free eBook) or click on the RSS feed below or to the right. Please share this post on your social networks!

 

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

34 responses so far

34 Responses to “20 Creative DIY Plant Labels & Markers”

  1. Kylieon 22 May 2012 at 10:30 am

    WOW!!! I never imagined so many things could be used for labels. All of your ideas sure beat the plain old white generic plastic labels that I have been purchasing for years. Never again….. I’m inspired!!

  2. The Micro Gardeneron 22 May 2012 at 10:40 am

    Thanks Kylie … I hope you enjoy saving your $ for plants and seeds and have fun getting creative making your own labels. Cheers, Anne :)

  3. Doloreson 22 May 2012 at 10:45 am

    What great ideas!!!! I just bought plastic white labels, I am going to return them and try one of your ideas. They will make my garden unique. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. The Micro Gardeneron 22 May 2012 at 10:49 am

    So great to hear that Dolores! Save your money to grow plants you love and let your creative talents shine! I hope you’ll share what you make with us. Cheers, Anne :)

  5. Amarylison 23 May 2012 at 6:38 am

    Hi Anne,

    A very inspiring article – we no longer have any excuse for buying the white plastic labels from a shop!

    Thanks for so many ideas. :-))

  6. The Micro Gardeneron 23 May 2012 at 7:17 am

    Hi Amarylis
    Thanks for your feedback and so glad it has inspired some thinking ‘outside the square’! I love looking for new ways with old things … with a little imagination, it’s amazing what we can reuse and save money on whilst still providing a practical function in our garden. Happy plant marking and hope the allotment is blossoming!
    Cheers Anne :)

  7. [...] Celebrate your new garden – add your plant labels! [...]

  8. Shannonon 25 May 2012 at 11:49 am

    This is the most enjoyable website that I have ever encountered. You have such wonderful ideas. I’m not sure how I found your site, but I sure am thankful. Thank you so much for sharing your obvious passion with all of us.

  9. The Micro Gardeneron 25 May 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Shannon (oh what a great email address you have – Gotta love “Mad Maddy’s Mom”!) … thanks SO much for your lovely comment and for stopping by. You’ve made my day! So pleased you have found some ideas you like. Hang around, there’s more to come. I’ve just come inside from making some kids boot planters out on my verandah and potting up some other creative combinations in containers today that I’ll share in the future. Have a great day.
    Happy gardening, Anne :)

  10. Debon 25 May 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Anne,
    I love the ideas here, they are so pretty. I have had a little sign in my garden for years (around 15) like the one you had made out of an old fence paling. I did it as a bit of a joke at first but so many people commented on it that I have kept it. (It says ‘my farm’ for my 2x5m veggie patch). I used a bit of leftover house paint and that is still going strong. The only thing that has given is one of the screws, so now it swings. I haven’t had a lot of success with ice-block sticks. I found once they got a little wet they went mouldy and unreadable. I have a decent collection of pre-made plastic labels saved over the years for when I start off my seeds in punnets. I have laminated hand made labels and they worked quite well. I have heard that you can cut up and aluminium can with kitchen shears and write on them with a ballpoint pen but I think you would have to be careful of the edges, especially with kids around.

  11. The Micro Gardeneron 25 May 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Deb … thanks for sharing your sign ideas and tips. Wonderful to hear from you. I’ve had the same trouble with ice-block sticks as plant markers – they are only a cheap temporary solution as the wood acts like a wick for moisture. Thank goodness we have heaps of other options.

    Love the wording “My Farm” on your little veggie patch! How gorgeous… I’m using something similar this weekend at the Garden Expo for a micro veggie box garden I am displaying with a sign saying “Urban Farm”. I’m hoping to inspire people to start growing in containers with some creative ideas.

    Enjoy your veggie patch. Happy gardening, Anne :)

  12. Sueon 26 May 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Hi Anne,
    Some very natty ideas – having just planted more seeds on the communal plot today and used the white markers (and brought a pile home to clean up) feel inspired to do something much more fun and will try out a few of your ideas to see which the group like.
    Hope we get to see some pics of your Urban Farm as have just purchased quite a few seeds to do micro greens.
    Thanks for a great newsletter, my first. Will look forward to more good things.
    Sue

  13. The Micro Gardeneron 26 May 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Sue
    Welcome to The Micro Gardener community … and thanks so much for your comment. I’d love to know where your communal plot is. Having had quite a bit to do with local community gardens including presenting workshops, I’m always interested in how others operate and the plots are set up. It’s a great way to build community and learn to grow food.
    Sounds like you might have the perfect opportunity to get creative with your markers and inspire your fellow gardeners!
    I have a few projects on the go with creative containers so will be sharing some and saving others for my book. You can also see pics on Flickr of some of my gardens.
    Glad you enjoyed your first newsletter and look forward to staying in touch and sharing more ideas.
    Happy gardening, Anne :)

  14. [...] of some of the items we use most often in our gardens.  Pots and Containers, Seed Starting Pots, Plant Labels, Watering Cans and Sprayers.  These tips should inspire you to start saving some of the items you [...]

  15. How to Plant out a Herb Garden |on 14 Aug 2012 at 9:08 pm

    [...] the herbs/plants you want to grow aren’t covered above, check the plant tag to see what their water and sun requirements are to determine which position would be most suitable [...]

  16. [...] 20 Creative DIY Plant Labels & Markers – from The Micro Gardener [...]

  17. 6 Easy DIY Container Garden Projects |on 31 Jan 2013 at 9:06 am

    [...]  DIY Plant Labels Tutorial [...]

  18. [...] resource to make at least 20 different plant marker labels and wanted to share with you what The MicroGardener has on their site. Take a look if you want some neat ideas! Here are a few images from their site [...]

  19. Sydney Gardeneron 03 Mar 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Awesome list. Thanks.

    I’ve always used Yoghurt containers – the plastic is really strong but i remember i have to reapply the writing as the sun disappears them after a while then you don’t know which tomato variety is which.

    After so many years of gardening i can work out which seedling is which plant after 2 leaves form. Not sure if husbands can ever do that. lol

  20. The Micro Gardeneron 03 Mar 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Glad you like the list Sydney Gardener. With the plant ID, perhaps it is the maternal instinct that gives us an advantage over the male species when it comes to recognising plant babies? My hubby has had many ‘learning opportunities’ in our vegie patch like the time he thought he was going to get some brownie points for whipper snipping the ‘grass’ around my herb bed when it was in fact my garlic chive border that got a number one haircut … and the time he made delicious scrambled eggs with what he thought was parsley but in fact was coriander!! The lessons never end around here … love and laughter seem to go hand in hand!

  21. Easy Guide to Growing Microgreens |on 10 Mar 2013 at 4:34 pm

    [...] Materials: Tray/container; certified organic/fungicide free seeds; spray bottle; seaweed solution; potting mix/growing medium; paper towel/chux cloth to line tray; plant label. [...]

  22. TJon 09 Apr 2013 at 2:03 am

    Great blog, I love it!

    One of the things we use at our local community garden, thanks to a very smart-thinking husband/wife team who garden there, are recycled mini-blind slats! You can cut them to length for visibility, depending on how large an area you wish to mark.

    Sharpie makes a terrific PAINT marker – medium point black is the one we use – and it’s oil-based paint so lasts and lasts. Easy to write with too; it’s about the size of a fat marker.

  23. The Micro Gardeneron 09 Apr 2013 at 6:51 am

    Thanks TJ for stopping by and sharing your tip. With a little creative thinking it’s amazing what we can reuse. There’s a free tutorial on making blind markers @ http://themicrogardener.com/diy-repurposed-garden-projects/ (Project 4) but it’s important to only use lead free blinds as there have been some product recalls in both Australia and USA. Worth a little due diligence especially when it comes to using with our food gardens! :)

  24. DIY Upcycled Broken Pot Ideas |on 26 Apr 2013 at 8:59 pm

    [...] My first idea was to use one of the large pieces as a cachepot to hide an ugly black plastic pot – the terracotta was still half intact (a bit like those hospital gowns that look good from the front but are open at the back!) … To disguise this one, I sat the pot inside and used the terracotta pot as a plant marker: [...]

  25. Michelle Smithon 29 May 2013 at 9:02 am

    Hi
    You are FANTASTIC- thank you for your inspirational website. I am so glad I found it- and you are in Qld- a bonus.
    Please keep up the motivational work!
    Michelle

  26. The Micro Gardeneron 29 May 2013 at 10:01 am

    Thanks Michelle for your positive feedback and welcome to this site! :)

  27. KaylenePon 30 Jul 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Wow these are some great ideas! I never thought there would be so may ways that you could label your plants. I really love the rocks and metal spoons.

  28. [...] My first idea was to use one of the large pieces as a cachepot to hide an ugly black plastic pot – the terracotta was still half intact (a bit like those hospital gowns that look good from the front but are open at the back!) … To disguise this one, I sat the pot inside and used the terracotta pot as a plant marker. [...]

  29. Plant labels | Kids. Grow. Gardens.on 20 Nov 2013 at 8:51 am

    [...] I’m learning the hard way of the importance of using labels when you plant your seeds. Being new to growing things (other than weeds) I rushed home from my first Urban Farming Tasmania seed sharing session and planted a few of everything. Now I have these mysterious seedlings bursting forth, but no idea of what they are. Summer will be full of surprises!  The novelty of that will wear off I’m sure, so now I’m getting the girls to label everything we plant. We love the awesome plant label ideas at the Microgardener blog. [...]

  30. DIY Plant Markers | The Garden Gloveon 03 Jan 2014 at 8:33 am

    […] first project inspiration comes from The Micro Gardner, and we love this idea! How cool is this? Terra Cotta Plant Markers – Sharpie and broken terra cotta […]

  31. Umaon 10 Jun 2014 at 6:18 am

    This is awesome! I have so many plastic knives that I do not know what to do with and here you gave me some ideas for it. I truly enjoyed this site.

  32. Anne Gibsonon 10 Jun 2014 at 7:43 am

    Glad you found some inspiration for upcycling your plastic knives Uma. Have fun making your plant markers!

  33. […] This is another site with more great ideas (clicking here) […]

  34. Ian Andersonon 20 Aug 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Absolutely been looking for an excuse to buy a metal stamp set for ages and now I have one, brilliant!

    I so get fed up with making plant markers that don’t even last till the end of the season before becoming illegible.

    Ta muchly Anne!

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply