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Long Term Labels


By siris


What is the solution to labels that fade?

The names of plants when written on white plastic labels, either in pencil or so called indelible ink fade after a while.
Personally I don’t like white labels in the border, they look unsightly. I bought some green ones, from China, but they held the ink worse than the Uk ones. Cheap plastic?
Does the make of permanent marker make a difference?

The white commercial labels I wrote on in pencil for my Iris seedling crosses were placed between damp paper towels along with the germinating seeds, and have became erased, which is very annoying, because now I can’t tell the seedlings’ parentage.

Names scribbled onto Black Labels last for years, but the disadvantages are:-
They are expensive
Take ages to scribe, (the scriber provided is useless. I sharpened a small penknife point, which works well.)
The labels which are not that rigid, are difficult to push into the soil and are easily scraped out by birds, cats etc.
I solved this by threading onto a spike. Prevents the label disappearing amongst clumps, and is easy to rotate whilst remaining standing, without removing from the soil.

Simbad told me that Wylieintheazores burns names into plastic.
OH had a spare modelling soldering iron, which he has given to me. I am now experimenting with scribing names into home made labels made from margarine cartons, writing the names first in order to see where to mark, then inking in the indentation. How long the dark ink will last, I don’t know, but obviously the indentations remain.
Fumes given off might be toxic??
Simbad said she wiped with a dirty gardening glove, that fills in the impressions with contrasting colour. It is also possible to make a hole with a hole punch in order to tie the label to a stick or plant.

The other idea, heard from another GoY member, was to write with indelible ink pen on pebbles. They don’t scrub off.
I have plenty of pebbles. The trench around my small lawn is edged with pebbles obtained over 40 years from the plot, which is on the edge of plateau gravel. If I dig deep enough, before I hit the clay pan, there are lots of them down the hole.

How long the writing will remain is to be seen in the experimental one I have done for Hackonechloea macra aureola. Needed a big pebble for that name! The pebble becoming moved could be a problem cause by weeding around cultivars and shifting the name to a different variety is something to be avoided.

If you have any ideas on the labelling issue, do please tell of your solutions.

This idea of using aluminium Venetian blind slats came from Bathgate. Here is a test.

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Useful blog, Siris ..
I don't know of a good, easy, economic answer to the labels challenge. In my garden, blackbirds and other large birds throw my pebbles around, so if I had plant names on stones and pebbles, the birds would take great delight in moving my pebbles to different plants, thereby re-naming everything !

Added this blog to GoYpedia Plant Labels

20 Jan, 2017


It does seem to be a perennial issue for keen plants people!

20 Jan, 2017


Hi Siris, I agree those labels look awful in the garden - so I just don't use them. Rather, I save my plant labels in my desk drawer in the house. They'll never fade and you won't forget which plants they belong to...and you won't have an ugly garden with a lot of blank labels popping up. Keep them inside. If you absolutely must have labels, wooden popsicle sticks & a sharpie seem to work best.

20 Jan, 2017


Over the years I have purchased some of the black ones from NT shops, they come with a white wax crayon which stays on the label for a long time, I still have wax crayons from when my grandchildren were little so that solved my problem when original white one wore away however they are kept for use in the g'houses.. In the garden I got fedup of losing my labels also don't like to see them, so if planting something new into the garden I take a photograph showing where new plants are and make a note of the name and position on my laptop, I also make labels out of the milk cotainers,when I need extra at potting on stage, will admit I have been known to pinch one of hubby's pens that he uses to write on discs, that certainly stays put on my labels...Last year my sister gave me a gift of some very strong wooden ones which I use for my toms and cucumbers, don't know where she got them from but they are marvellous, for anyone with access to some handy tools they would be quite easy to make oneself and probably a lot cheaper done that way...

20 Jan, 2017


This has been debated many times on GoY, I just wish I had a really good answer for you Siris, sadly not!

20 Jan, 2017


I still haven't found a decent way either Siris. OH bought me a labelling machine that uses a sticky peel off backing tapes. unfortunately they don't stay stuck to the labels for more than 3 yrs.
I also take pictures etc but in the greenhouse plants get moved around a lot so they need labels in their pots.
Sharpies only seem to last 2 years at the most for me.

20 Jan, 2017


Sue - I use the black labels in my raised bulb bed. I find it takes about 30 seconds to inscribe each one - depends on how many you need to write!

20 Jan, 2017


Thank you everyone for your thoughts and comments.
Seems it is a perennial problem, ha,ha.
Lincslass,When I am talking long lasting, I am meaning 3, 6 or longer years.
Bathgate, wooden ice cream sticks (Popsicle?) rot here after about a year.
Seaburngirl, I too have tried a Dymo mini hand labelling machine. Now you have me thinking. I have in the past found a name label, detached from the 'post' many years after the plant has gone, in the soil. So could the name label be stapled/tacked to the post?
Goy has prompted me to take photos of individual plant, then I can see it's position to its neighbour. However, as I have a large collection of bearded Iris, long term plants,(not in grids or rows) which all look the same when not in flower, it can be difficult to ascertain the different clumps. These have the black labels.
Linkslass, I did find a black label in the garden from 1992 within a Kirengoshoma, with writing intact, which I then snapped in moving the plant.
Andrew, yes black labels seem the best solution for long term plants, at the moment I am on my second packet of 100. I would not use these on my Iris seedling crosses, as maybe the cross after flowering is not worth keeping, and the label would be wasted.
Ps, I scrub names with Vim from white labels used on annuals/transient plants, to reuse. Writing usually lasts a year.

21 Jan, 2017


I have tried most things, unfortunately I am a mover and a shaker hardly anything stays in the same place, so no good taking photographs, when your plant collections runs into thousands, you might as well give up, everything we have ever purchased for the garden is catalogued on GOY, but as we tend to lose plants, so this needs to be updated regularly, which can take ages!!
Black rigid are the best I have seen, overwritten in silver, how long they last I have no idea, but, they are easily hidden from view........Sue perhaps you need to invent something new!!

21 Jan, 2017


Siris - Do you have old venetian blinds in your house, aluminum blinds? Some are plastic. I've seen somebody use the slats for garden markers. The aluminum or plastic ones won't degrade. You can label them with a sharpie, then place a clear piece of packing tape over the writing to preserve it.

21 Jan, 2017


Dd, overwritten in silver? Is that with a special pen?

22 Jan, 2017


Bathgate, thanks for that the idea of blind slats. I have located 2 old aluminium ones, and have done a test, actually more easily scribed upon than the black painted ones. Unfortunately they are blue.

22 Jan, 2017


Yes Sue,.....have just priced up 1000 for rigid black 5 inch over £ 20.00 might have to bite the bullet! annoying that the Gcs don't sell these, because I had lots of tokens to spend!!

22 Jan, 2017


That's not a bad price. I think I paid £6 for 100. Btw, the green label with the inking on the Geranium Blueberry Ice, is holding up well.

22 Jan, 2017


Well that's good to hear......

22 Jan, 2017


Which is why I pinch one of hubby's everytime he buys some new ones, he hasn't realised yet, lol.......

30 Jan, 2017


Let's hope he doesn't look at GOY then - lol

30 Jan, 2017

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