Whether your garden is a traditional plot, square foot, raised bed or container garden, you want to keep track of which plants are where. You can make plant markers out of various materials instead of buying premade markers at the lawn and garden center.
The type of marker you choose to make depends on how long you want it to last. Some materials are better suited for a single season’s use, while others are sturdy enough to last for several seasons.
Note: For most of the following plant marker ideas, you may want to preserve any writing on the markers (done with permanent marker or paint) with a coat of clear varnish, polyurethane or even clear mailing tape. Otherwise, rain and watering may cause the marker or paint to run.
Note: Mississippi State University Extension suggests using soft lead pencils to write plant names on markers (especially ones with rough surfaces). In addition, untreated wood may mold and turn black after it is exposed to water and moisture.
Popsicle sticks are great markers for container gardens. Write the name of the vegetable, fruit, flower or herb grown on the stick with a permanent marker and push the popsicle stick down into the soil about an inch.
If you need a taller marker than a popsicle stick, consider using a wooden ruler. You could also use a narrow (1- or 2-inch) cut of inexpensive wood, like plywood or balsa wood). Even a ½-inch thick twig from a tree could be used if you shave off the bark and write the name of the plant on it with a fine-tipped permanent marker.
You can paint the names of plants on smooth stones or paver stones and place them at the head of each row. Stones could also be used in container gardens.
You could include information about your plants on the stones too, since there is more room than other types of markers.
Stone markers are a fun way to get kids involved in the garden. Let them paint designs or the plants you’re growing on each stone.
Small terracotta or clay pots (or even pieces of pots) can be painted with the names of each of your plants, then placed at the head of each garden row.
DIY plant labels
If you have access to a laminator, you can create plant tags by designing them on the computer or by hand, then laminating each of them. Punch a hole at one end of the tags and loop a piece of yarn through the holes. Hang each label over one of each variety of plant you’re growing. Move up the plants as needed throughout the growing season.
Another idea is to keep plant labels from the greenhouse and use them as markers. Laminate them and they’ll last longer!
DIY hammered spoons
These plant markers take a little bit more skill and the use of a few tools. Practically Functional has the how-to here.
Perfect for container gardens, corks or pieces of cork can identify your herbs and flowers.
Write the name of each plant being grown on pieces of cork with a permanent marker or paint, then secure to the side of your containers with clothespins.
Clothespins and dowel rods
Similar to the cork idea, cut dowel rod into 8-12” pieces. Write the name of each plant on clothespins. Clip one clothespin to each piece of dowel rod and stick into the soil by your plants. This idea is ideal for container gardens.
You can buy plain ceramic tiles at your local home improvement store. Use permanent markers or acrylic craft paint to create your labels. Once dry, coat with a clear, waterproof acrylic sealer.
If you’re short on time or lack creativity, save seed packets and make them into row markers. Martha Stewart says to cut across the bottom of the seed packet and place over a wood stake (ruler, strip of wood, etc.). Stick the stake in the ground and place a mason jar over the packet. The jar will prevent water from causing the paper packet to fall apart.
Have any other ideas for creative plant markers? Tell us in the comments below!
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