Plant labels are a gardener’s best friend. Have you ever went on a planting spree or planted some seeds and when they started to sprout a few months later forgot what type of plant they were? It’s hard to tell your seedlings apart. Some plants need more water than others, and it’s important to know which plant is which. Plant labels help organize your garden and keep track of all of your plants. You don’t have to buy pre-made labels; you can make your own DIY plant labels. It’s a fun gardening craft, perfect for a rainy day.
Why You Need Plant Labels
Gardening is a labor of love. Unless you buy mature plants, when using seeds or seedlings, it takes a while for the plants to grow into their adult form. As seedlings, many plants look the same. It’s hard to distinguish one another and determine what’s the start of a beautiful plant and what’s a weed. Even if you have a great memory, many months pass between the seed stage and becoming a recognizable plant. It’s easy to forget what you planted. You may even have different varieties of the same plant and not be able to tell the difference between them. A good plant label is hardy, able to withstand the seasons (unless your plants grow indoors only) and clearly states which plants are which.
DIY Plant Labels
DIY Tip: Working with Wood
If you live in an area that receives a lot of rain, it’s a good idea to seal your wooden crafts before setting them outside. You can find sealant at the craft store like outdoor modge podge. After you finish your design, use a coat of the sealant to protect the wood from the rain, snow, and other elements that can cause it to mold.
Using Outdoor Paint
When making your own DIY plant labels, they must be able to withstand the seasons. You don’t want to check on your garden after a heavy rainfall or snow and find that your labels are no longer legible. Use paint pens or permanent markers designed for outdoor use. You can paint or write directly on your surface or use a layer of paint first for an added pop of color.
What to Paint on:
- Popsicle sticks
- Paint sticks
- Smooth rocks (river rocks work well)
- Clothespins- You can clip them to the stem or planter, and have them poke out of the ground, or attach to a metal wire or stick.
- Wooden stakes
- Plastic cutlery
- Wooden Spoons (kitchen spoons are nice and tall)
- Broken planter - Pieces of broken planter make rustic and eclectic plant markers. You can use larger pieces of planter and place next to the plant or stand up a piece of the planter with a metal wire.
You can turn label making into a kid-friendly fun DIY craft using alphabet beads. All you need are beads, gardening/floral wire (wire meant to be outside), and pliers. Using fun decorative beads and alphabet beads, spell out your different plants, stringing the beads onto the wire. Secure the ends of the wire so the beads can’t fall out. If you want, you can use a cinch bead. It’s up to you how you’d like to display the beds, whether they hang from a tall wire or poke out a few inches from the soil.
Do you have leftover scrabble tiles? You can turn them into fun plant labels. If you don’t have scrabble tiles, head to your local thrift store and see if they have old games for sale or check the dollar store for copy-cat tiles. Glue the scrabble tiles to a popsicle or paint stick, spelling out your plant types.
Wood Burner Pen
Are you a pyrography fan? You can use a wood burner pen for a cool rustic plant marker. Outline what you want to burn with a pencil first and then use the wood burner to make your design and spell out your labels.
What to Write On:
- Popsicle sticks
- Wooden spoons
- Cork - You can use a fork to display the cork.
- Twig - Whittle a few inches off the end of the twig to make a flat surface to write on.
An easy way to make sure your labels stay legible during the seasons is laminating them. The laminate protects paper from moisture and other weather conditions. You can laminate your labels and stick them into the ground using a popsicle stick or metal wire for an easy label.
Add a Toy:
If you want to make your garden a little more fun, use toys to display your laminate labels. Toy dinosaurs, cars, and other plastic figurines can add a little entertainment to a plain plant marker.
Oven-bakeable Clay Polymer
You can make fun DIY plant labels using clay polymer, just make sure you can mold it and bake it in the oven to “cure” it, so it keeps its shape and hardens. You can cut your clay into shapes, like a circle or star, and cutting a small hole so you can hang it from a wire. Rubber letter stamps make it easy to write on the clay. If you want to make your own clay stakes, roll the clay into four to five-inch strips. Using a rolling pin, flatten the sides until it becomes a rectangle. Form the end of the piece into a point to make it easier to push into the ground.
Letter Stamping Set ⅛ in.
Letter stamping sets are a fun way to engrave your own plant labels using thin pieces of metal. All you need is a rubber mallet and a letter stamping set. You can use soda cans (aluminum is an easy metal to work with) or other pieces of scrap metal you have lying around.
Use an Antique Spoon
You can go to the thrift store and use old fancy-ended spoons for your plant marker. Older spoons are more malleable and better for crafting compared to spoons you’d purchase today from the supermarket. Sandwich the spoon upside down between two pieces of wood (about a ½ inch or an inch thick). Use a rubber mallet to flatten the spoon to make it easier to write on.
How to Use a Letter Stamp
When using a letter stamp, you want to start on a flat surface. Begin at the middle of the word and firmly place one letter onto your metal. Hit the letter hard once with a rubber mallet. You can also use a permanent marker to fill in the letters; rubbing alcohol will help erase any excess marker.
If you have the original seed packet or want to make a larger label out of paper or another less weathering material, you can keep it protected using a mason jar. Glue the label to a popsicle stick or paint stirrer and leave a little bit of the wood sticking out on the top. Place a clear mason jar upside down on top of the stick. The mason jar will shield the label from dirt and rain.
Plant labels give your garden organization and can double as cute decor. You can make your own do it yourself plant labels by upcycling items around the garden or simple items from the craft store. It’s hard to remember where you planted each one of your plants. Most seedlings look the same, and it takes a while for them to grow and look more recognizable. It’s hard to tell what are your growing plants and what are weeds. Plant labels let you know what plants are which.