Plant tags

jel48(Z4 Michigan)June 26, 2012

I've lost so many IDs since moving to the U.P. Keweenaw Peninsula. We have lake effect snow here, normally 200+ inches with about a 30-36" snow cover at any given time through the winter months (usually December - April).

I have trouble with permanent markers fading out and my p-touch labels don't last more then a winter or so, if that. I do have some out there now, where I put the p-touch label on the metal marker then sprayed with several coats of clear spray paint finish (drying well between each) that is supposedly weather proof. Those have made it through the first winter ok, so now I'm waiting to see how they hold up longer term.

What plant tags hold up best for you, under extreme snowy conditions?

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A hand drawn map of everything I've planted, LOL ! ( Which of course doesn't have everything on it. I always think I'll remember or that some things will be obvious. That method is really iffy)

I haven't found anything yet that looks good and also lasts through snow and rain.

I'm hoping somebody else has =:)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:37AM
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We make our own metal markers. The 'stem' is cut a bit longer so it is pushed into the ground deeper, so far they have survived. The nameplate is cut from the same metal and epoxied so it sticks. The name label is printed on a P Touch. I have a friend in northern ontario who gets his markers from AAA Engravers. You can call them at (601) 878-5999 or email them at Apparently they send you a free sample to examine. They are in Terry, MS. He swears by them. Marg

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:47AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I don't mark at all. I have spreadsheets of everything's name and location on my computer. But I have some copper tags that Brenda sent me, that you engrave with a pen, and they seem to last well.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:56AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Marg, I don't think the metal markers themselves are such a problem. It's the fact that the p-touch label has peeled completely off (in some cases) or has become unreadable (totally bleached out, in other cases) or has become unreadable plus rolled up and then ready to fall off but you can't read it anyway.

I used the same p-touch labels in MN, where we certainly had snow, but not nearly so much snow and it did melt in between. Here, once it snows, the tags are under the snow for the rest of the season. I don't know if that's the cause of the damage, or whether they don't make the p-touch labels as good as they used to, or whether I just got a couple of bad batches.

The metal plant tags that I've been using are from Wild Rose Distributing. You can take a look at them in the link below.

Nutsaboutflowers, I sure hear you about the map! Ironically, I did that in MN, where my markers survived the winters just fine! I did NOT get it done here, and I must have a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty, name variety hostas where the tags are no longer good after the first winter here (which was 2008). It really hurts! If I had only a few hosta, I'd try to figure out which ones they were, but I have so many it's a really huge job! I might get some figured out, but never all of them!

Here is a link that might be useful: Wild Rose Distributing Metal Plant Markers

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:02PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I used to have spreadsheets too, northspruce, back in MN. I had a ton of great info there, including name, when planted, where I got the plant and at what cost, AND LOCATION!!! I wish I could backtrack now and be so organized here from the time I first put shovel to dirt! I can't, but I am trying to get information together for what I can still identify.

I think the copper tags sound good in a way. I'm assuming that the pen makes a dent or impression of some sort, rather then just ink marking. An impression should stay in the tag. I used to have some soft copper sheets that I used for metalworking. I'll have to take a look and see if I still have any scraps and at least test on a few plants.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:15PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Yes the copper tags are a thin plate of copper and the pen engraves in its surface.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 4:32PM
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I bought a bunch of tags from Lee Valley last year that were green and you wrote on the white background.

What a mistake !

When I looked out the back window I could see all these stupid bits of white that were more prominent than anything else in the garden =:(


How far away can you notice the copper tags, or do they blend in?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 5:13PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Ah yes. the ongoing issue of NOIDs. I have been trying to solve this one for a while. I have seen some very interesting ways of marking plants and have used some creative ways myself. Even engraving cutlery! Nothing yet has worked to my saticfaction.

Someone mentioned using metal blinds and marking on both ends with a Sharpie. So far this has worked the best but the silly magpies often pull them out. :) Trying to keep a map is useless for me. This yard is so big, I couldn't fit all the names on a map on one of my living room walls!

My latest idea is to paint rocks or terra cotta shards and dip them in boat sealant or waterproofing paint. Or.....just give up trying and learn to live with NOIDs! :-)


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:59PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I remember, from years back, that someone on the Hosta forum puts the plastic tag from the nursery IN THE HOLE when planting hosta. That way it's always there as a backup. Of course, you have to dig the plant to find it! But still, not a bad idea.

I use pieces of plastic blinds as temporary markers, but of course those don't hold up long.

I've used permanent markers, but found they're not so permanent. Is there something special about the Sharpie brand that holds up longer then others? I don't recall what brand I've tried.

I started making maps last night, and (since our yard is quite small) got 3/4ths of it done. I used maps in my previous home in MN with a fairly large yard with good results. The trick there (at least for me) is to give each separate area of the garden a name (for example, in this house we have the '4th Street Sidewalk Cafe garden' because I've put a little table and two chairs there so that passers by can sit and enjoy the view if they want.... and so on and so on). Be sure to give it a name you will be able to associate with the area. Then draw the map of that little section of the garden. In order to fit all the names on each garden diagram, I sometimes make multiple diagrams for the same garden, marking different plants on each. For example, my 'Rose Garden' diagram was done twice, once for roses and once for hosta.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 11:33AM
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Use a label maker. The labels seem to stand up very well to the weather. My MIL used a Brother, they're still looking new.

Markers will never last. They're all water and/or alcohol based now. UV breaks them down to nothing.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 12:15PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Hi Shazam. That's what I thought, but the Brother P-Touch labels that worked so well for me in MN are what didn't stand up to our MI Keweenaw peninsula lake effect snow cover.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 12:53PM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

One would think that with all the stuff on the market for gardening that someone could come up with a solution to this problem. It's a question that's asked repeatedly, and there's never a really simple solution available.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 2:43PM
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One of the best things I did use some time back was aluminum flat bars about 1.5 x 15 inch x 3/16 thick that I got at the salvage. They were cut offs and I had to cut them with a hacksaw down to the 15 in. I then picked up some labels for labeling meat ie; freezer labels 2 5/8 x 1 inch. which are waterproof and printed them through a laser printer. I still have stakes in my yard that are very readable after about 10 years. Sadly I did not keep it up and also had some kids visit who pulled them up so lost the marking aspect that way. They really were the best even if it took a little work at the time. You can buy aluminum flat stock in some hardware stores. I wonder if you can buy a similar label for the label maker? They definitely have been the best I have ever tried.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Blog site

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 5:06PM
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My copper name tags have lasted for 8 or more years now, I believe. These are the copper labels that Gil is referring to.

Here is a picture of them...I tuck them behind the plant at ground level.

The 'stake' is cut pieces of a metal coat hanger.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 6:59PM
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software and laser printer on water proof pot sticks, or tags, or bench signs

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Tag N Track

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 12:56PM
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I don't know why your P-Touch labels are peeling off but then I remembered I bought the first labels from Lee Valley and the P Touch really didn't stick to them to well. DH now makes our own labels and we don't have any problem. He just goes to the local Metal Mart, buys the sheets of metal and cuts it down to size, I print up the labels stick them on and he attaches them to the stem. The labels don't peel or fade. I also have the high winter winds and lake effect snow here and that's not a problem.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 1:17PM
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Have you tried the P-touch label tapes with strong adhesive? I started with the black on white laminated and have moved to the strong adhesive. I put them on metal tags and they work great. We have snow that stays most winters- not last year! and I haven't lost any. I get them at Staples here.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 9:02PM
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Michael's craft store sells Sharpie Paint pens which won't fade like regular Sharpie markers.

I take a lot of pictures during the growing season, and they get labeled in the computer. I save all the original tags in a zippered binder and go through them once a year and toss out the plants that haven't overwintered.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 4:54PM
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the old venetian blinds strips work well and was thinking about a paint pen for the names

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 4:52PM
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