Plant Labels

bernd ny zone5November 6, 2012

I have marked my hostas and dwarf conifers with plant labels from I like them and have no problems with the product.

My problem is with using them in the landscape where there are a lot of leaves on the ground in fall. So I removed most of them in my backyard. I could not rake around them, stepped on them, got hooked with my shoes on them, could not mow over them. After I removed them, I mowed the hosta beds with my lawn mower on a high setting to create chopped leaves as mulch. I like that mowing as a low-effort cleanup. As a first step I had pulled the dried hosta leaves off the plants and placed them into garbage.

As backup I have a map of my lot with abbreviations of each hosta. The removed labels I will clean and store, for possible future use.

What was your experience with labels and raking leaves?


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Very simple. I don't rake in my hosta beds! The labels are always where I put them. I do take out some of the leaves from the beds,but I never rake in them,and I certainly can't mow in them,due to being on a hill. I do rake my paths,however. Phil

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 9:21AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Blow and mow. Blow the leaves out of the beds onto the little bit of grass you have and mow them up. It's not hard. I don't use my lawn mower on my Hostas.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 10:27AM
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MadPlanter1 zone 5

I go the map route. There are huge mats of leaves in the tiered beds every spring, and they have to be raked, scooped, and carried out by hand. Between foraging turkeys, frost heave and raking, labels disappear all the time.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 11:16AM
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I am not sure if it would be different in Canada but would it be to an advantage to have leaves for cover or does it just attract a safe haven for slugs ? I found a slug just the other day on my June so they are still hanging in. I have blown the paths and lawns but so far have left the leaves on the hosta beds. I have a bagger on the riding lawnmower that mulches them nice and fine so are in a compost pile for later use. New at this so could use all the input around. Yesterday it was 15*c and a wonderful warm fall day to be outside doing more clean up

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Fall leaves are part of my garden care. I pile the leaves as heavily as possible in the fall. Then I forget it till spring. I have to fight the urge to remove the leaves early - if you can fight temptation, the leaves will act as protection in the late frosts of spring and the hosta will emerge unscathed. In the spring, I start moving the leaves away from the hosta, but still leave them in piles wherever there is space. By early summer, the leaves have disappeared. The bed is large and contains just under 100 hosta, plus other perennials and shrubs. Because of the leaves, weeding is minimal - less than two hours spring, summer and fall. And because of the leaves, I ended up watering the whole thing only once in the summer, despite the most severe drought I've ever gardened through.
Slugs are not particularily troublesome. I have made an attempt to plant slug resistant varieties.
Cleaning the leaves thoroughly from under the hosta is essential for slug control, but spraying a few susceptible varieties with an ammonia solution in spring and later if they need it is enough.
For labels, I use stainless steel triangles, which I mark with a paint pen. This seems stable, though I do need to rewrite the labels every so often. Labels are always buried in the soil in front of the hosta and are for my use only. The labels are marked with the name and the date of planting. However, despite burying labels (which means that they are never in the way when I hoe), some still manage to disappear over winter.
So I also keep maps, and a hosta database, which tells me when I acquired a plant, from which source, when I planted it, and my evaluation. I cull hosta I don't like and remove them from the beds and sales shelves. I like doing this because it allows me room to try a new variety.
Because we are a commercial nursery, I also use signs to tell customers the name of the hosta and the date planted. I want them to judge the growth rate and the vigour of the hosta variety for themselves, which is one reason I don't worry too much about slugs. But then, we don't grow the kind of slugs here that you do on the west coast.
In case anyone is interested, the labels are from a Canadian company called Perma Stake ( They don't rust or break and are reusable. I believe I use the 6" stakes.
I have finally broken down and counted the number of hosta in my gardens. I just didn't want to know before. I have planted over the past 12 years some 245 hosta. I just opened a new bed a few weeks ago, which is very gratifying, because it had been invaded by vinca which a previous owner let loose on the property. It took me all summer, but I cleaned the sucker, and am now looking forward to seeing the new hosta next year.
Leaves are garden gold. By all means, use them.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 12:38PM
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I'm similar to ninamarie - I mulch and bag leaves in my lawn with the mower and spread thickly on my gardens to keep gardens cool over winter and spring - then move leaves away from emerging eyes, but keep the leaves in the gardens between plants. As hosta get bigger and fuller, leaves aren't very noticeable and are mostly hidden. I'm also trying to move away from purchasing mulch, except for along path and lawn edges.

Also, using cardboard and heavy layer of leaves to kill off grass in an garden expansion area. In past I have used Roundup first, but just didn't get around to it.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 1:34PM
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For exactly the reason you have given, I no longer use them and use painted rocks instead. I have used them for two overwinters now and never raked away a marked rock, just raked right over them with a leaf rake. I use Krylon exterior spray cans for a light green background and a black Krylonn paint pen to the names.

During the fall die-back I move the rock to the edge of the crown so I know not to step on them in spring when cleaning up winter cover. As they unfurl in spring I move them out to the drip-line so they can be visible, but barely.

Theresa uses inexpensive whte plastic push-in tags in our potted hostas, and they work fine there placed between the pot and soil.

I also have maps but it is more for planning and doing other indoor things like organizing my pictures I have multiples of plantaginea, Gold Standard, Blue Angel & ventricosa along with the drift planted Albos and Lancifolia, and have labeled the pics by garden plot (maps) as for example Blue Angel-1 or Blue Angel-2, etc'

The river where I collect my rocks has many well rounded and polished rocks other than sandstone that are not sedimentary and they work best. Sandstone seems to lose its surface to disintigrating resulting in the loss of it's markings.

I have an area where I will eventually have only fragrant hostas and a large flat rock stating "Fragrant Hostas" on it. I had cleaned the rock and sprayed it with a clear satin Krylon rather than the light green, and used white paint pen instead of black. It looks nice. The clear brings out the natural colors of the rock, just like a clear coating brings out the grain in wood. By next spring my leg should be rehabbed enough for me to get down to the river-it wasn't this year when the water was so low. Watch, we will have snow this winter and in spring the river will be in flood-stage and all the rock-hunting ground will be deep under rushing water.

I enjoy searching for rocks that I can use!


    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 5:05AM
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bernd ny zone5

Thanks for your response!
I forgot to mention that I live on a lot less than 1/2 acre in the suburbs, so there is not much to hide all the leaves in the backyard when I have 336 hostas, seedlings not counted in, plus other plantings. I also like to do as much cleanup as I can in fall, because there always will be much less time in spring. Here usually snow will fully disappear April 1 with spring flowers following the days after. As I learned raking with hostas coming out of the ground will lead to frayed leaves.

And then there is the issue with slugs and rodents. I have also seen slimy tracks of slugs while raking, so they are active and I do not want to give them places under leaves to lay eggs. Rodent holes I can only see after I rake, want to give them some mouse pellets to munch on over winter.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Plant markers. Sheesh. Plastic is useless because when they get cold in the winter they snap. Tried those copper tags that you press the letters into the soft metal with a pen or pointed dowel. They last only a couple of seasons before you can't read them at all. Both of these are easily lost through raking or leaf clean up in the spring.

Then a few years ago I started buying up all the wooden spoons I could find at the Dollar Store and wrote the name of the plant on the spoon end with indelible marker and pounded the spoons down into the ground right up to their necks. Worked great. Looked cute. For about 3 seasons. I stepped on too many and lost those too.

Now, I'm with Les - it's painted rocks for me. And large enough rocks that they won't get scooped up accidently with other debris. Sample Ripple Effect below.

Agree totally with Ninamarie re leaves. Leave your leaves alone (apart from running the lawnmower over them and then pile up into your beds. Planting beds, people, not your Simmons BeautyRest). Great mulch, great winter blanket for all plants. In the spring I just clean up a couple of handfuls at the crowns so the emerging plants can breathe in that fresh spring air. By then they've already started to break down and return to the earth anyway.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 7:57PM
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I've just pasted this photo of Liberty in another thread and figured it was good as a 2fer. The photo was taken in late spring after winter debris was cleaned up with no other work done. Note the rock maker partially hidden by a small weed. It never moved when the leaves were raked away. I had no problem with slugs in this garden, but in the sunny areas some of the worse cut-worm damage I've seen. Most of this garden gets only slightly dappled sun at best. I don't think winter leaf covering increases the slug population. They seem to thrive under flat objects like pots, pieces of wood, and rocks, so when i set a rock marker I step on it so it is tightly imbedded in the soil. This also helps keep the rock in place when raking.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 8:28AM
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bernd ny zone5

This is a good idea to step on markers. One of the rocks I had placed on the side of a hosta got caught by a lawn mower blade when mulching the leaves, made a lot of noise, will need to inspect the blade and sharpen it again before winter. Bernd

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:52AM
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