20 Creative DIY Plant Labels & Markers

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.

 

20 Creative DIY ideas for DIY plant labels and 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??)

 

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).

 

Wooden stake marker | The Micro Gardener

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

 

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.

 

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 matte 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 and there are so many creative options! Use a fine paint brush and acrylic non-toxic paint.

 

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. Could keep them occupied for hours!

 

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. Painted black with a packet of chalk, it’s a wonderfully easy DIY plant label gift idea for gardeners.

 

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. 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.

 

Metal spoons markers | The Micro Gardener

Whilst these might take a little more time and 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 adhesive, 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 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.

 

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. However, there’s nothing worse than having an incredibly high yielding food crop but not remembering where you 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 off cuts for repurposed plant 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 to label your plants.

 

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. After use, the signs 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 and Cover with Contact. Design your own labels on the computer, print off and 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 and cut out. Secure to a peg ‘stake’!

 

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.

 

Ceramic tile marker | The Micro Gardener

Painted sign on a ceramic tile.

 

12. Seed Packets and Popsicle Sticks. These plant markers provide you with all the plant information you need and are waterproof.

 

Seed packet labels | The Micro Gardener

Seed packets covered in contact and glued onto paddlepop sticks

 

13. Popsicle Stick Stencils. Cute and 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. Pegs are so convenient to use and cheap. They 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 and decorated with nailpolish.

 

15. Adhesive Aluminium Duct Tape. This is quick and 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. 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.

 

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

I make labels by cutting the sides out of milk bottles and 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 and use up leftover external paint to fashion some simple plant labels.

 

Carrot sign | The Micro Gardener

Hand painted timber sign and 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 made with paint stirring sticks – brilliant!

 

18. Wooden Spoons. If yours have seen better days or the handle breaks, find a new use outdoors as a plant label.

 

Wooden spoon label | The Micro Gardener

Labelled with a permanent marker

 

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.

 

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. Cover with a clear gloss if you wish.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 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

 

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 for DIY plant labels. More plant marker inspiration in DIY Repurposed Garden Projects.  What’s your favourite plant label idea?

 

 

Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will add value to my readers. Please read my Disclosure Statement for more details.

 

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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2016. https://themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

Comments

comments

49 Comments

  1. Garden Ideas September 28, 2016 at 5:00 am - Reply

    Well, these are really some cool and beautiful markers and labels and that exactly matches with the gardening products and it’s really a great utilisation of markers and labels.

  2. Garden Markers March 30, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful information!

  3. Will February 16, 2015 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Hi Anne,

    I’m always wondering how long since I did something last so I’ve stuck Seed.io tags on some plastic and wire in my backyard garden in Oakland. They let you keep an online notebook to track progress on the planter and have a UV coating.

    Here’s a like to view the one of the planters in my yard.
    http://tag.seed.io/v1/1956/4139df518999de2bf1f132bb749b813c

    Thought you’d appreciate it. Thanks for the article.

    • Anne Gibson February 17, 2015 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Thanks Will! Glad you like the article. Plant labels are great but if I ask my hubby to bring in Basil for a meal, he’ll always turn up with some other herb! That’s because he doesn’t wear his glasses outside to read the tags! Oh well, it always brings a little humour into our home with these interesting harvests. 🙂

  4. Summer January 30, 2015 at 1:35 am - Reply

    The old metal spoons idea is my favourite. I have some old cutlery that looks old and dirty. I tried everything to clean them but without a result. They are my grandmother’s and I wanted to keep them but they are useless, at least not for eating. That’s why I felt happy with your idea. This way I will recycle the cutlery and will use them for something clever, beautiful and useful.

  5. Amy December 17, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

    I was wondering if it would work to use a sharpie pen and then either mod podge it or spray it with some kind of clear sealer, would that work out okay, or would you still suggest one of the chinagraph, wax or grease pencils? Also where can I find these?

    Thanks!

    • Anne Gibson December 17, 2014 at 11:01 am - Reply

      Hi Amy
      Personally, I have found in my subtropical climate with strong UV, that sharpie black permanent markers don’t last long in the sun. A clear sealer may make them more durable. The Chinagraph/wax/grease pencils are usually available at art supplies stores or horticultural/nursery suppliers. Hope this helps. Have fun labelling. 🙂

  6. Frances November 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Hi Anne,

    LUUUUUURVE your ideas, browsed all last evening, I used to be the eccentric gardener, now everyone’s at it! I must have been ahead of my time (66 now). Power to your elbow. Cheers, Frances

  7. Andrew October 15, 2014 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Hello,

    I love the wooden signs in the first picture. Are these available for purchase? If not, are there any step by step directions on how to make them? I guess the part I don’t know how was done was the bleeding of the colors around the edges. I suppose the letters were made with stencils?

    Sry I’m not an arts and crafts guys, sorry if I’m asking easy questions

    Thanks

  8. Ian Anderson August 20, 2014 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    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!

  9. Uma June 10, 2014 at 6:18 am - Reply

    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.

    • Anne Gibson June 10, 2014 at 7:43 am - Reply

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

    • Lisa Pedrotti March 27, 2017 at 5:38 am - Reply

      I love this idea, too! I have tons of plastic utensils that come with every take out meal, and now I have a great use for some of them. I just planted some bulbs and seeds, so this idea will come in very handy.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Lisa

  10. KayleneP July 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    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.

  11. Michelle Smith May 29, 2013 at 9:02 am - Reply

    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

  12. TJ April 9, 2013 at 2:03 am - Reply

    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.

  13. Sydney Gardener March 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    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

    • The Micro Gardener March 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      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!

  14. Sue May 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    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

    • The Micro Gardener May 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm - Reply

      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 🙂

  15. The Micro Gardener May 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    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 🙂

  16. Deb May 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    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.

  17. Shannon May 25, 2012 at 11:49 am - Reply

    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.

    • The Micro Gardener May 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      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 🙂

  18. Amarylis May 23, 2012 at 6:38 am - Reply

    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. :-))

    • The Micro Gardener May 23, 2012 at 7:17 am - Reply

      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 🙂

  19. The Micro Gardener May 22, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

    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 🙂

  20. Dolores May 22, 2012 at 10:45 am - Reply

    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.

  21. The Micro Gardener May 22, 2012 at 10:40 am - Reply

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

  22. Kylie May 22, 2012 at 10:30 am - Reply

    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!!

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