This simple tagging system takes the guesswork out of houseplant care. Instead of trying to remember what each plant needs, use custom tags to make routine watering and care a breeze.
For more on indoor plant care, also see How Often Should I Water My Houseplants to help your plants thrive.
Easy Indoor Plant Care System
For all the good things houseplants bring, it can get stressful trying to keep track of their individual needs.
- How much water does this plant like?
- Should I fertilize—and how often?
- Which light conditions are best?
While it would be great to follow a set care schedule where, for example, Tuesday is watering day and every plant gets watered the same way, it just doesn’t work that way.
Every plant is unique and indoor growing conditions change throughout the year. Influences like light, temperature, and humidity levels are always shifting.
Yes, a fixed schedule for checking your plants every few days is highly recommended. But when or if to water or fertilize—or when to change lighting—requires observation and judgement.
To simplify things, I came up with a streamlined tagging system that makes it easy to see at a glance what each plant’s basic needs are. No more fumbling around for information.
It’s also handy to have a system like this in place for vacation plant-sitters in case you ever need someone to water your plants while you’re away.
Use the link below to save the free tip sheet.
Easy Houseplant Care Tagging System
I’m sure I’m not the first person to do this and it’s not rocket science (it’s really basic) but, wow, it has really helped me take better care of my plants. No more under- or overwatering which I’m sure you know is so hard on plants.
To come up with this system, I read hundreds (and hundreds) of houseplant care instructions in books, magazines, plant tags, and websites to find common themes and narrow things down.
While I appreciate the varied and sometimes poetic wordings, with each author giving their own flavor, it’s a relief to get things like watering instructions sorted into a few basic groups.
There are always a few amusing or nonsensical ones like “always keep evenly moist but allow to dry out between waterings,” but, thankfully, those are exceptions.
Most fit into the groups listed below which make an at-a-glance tagging system easy to create.
- Buy multi-color plant tags (or white tags and multi-color marking pens).
- Inventory your plants listing plant names and care instructions, then assign to water and light groups.
- Prepare tags.
Plant Tags & Markers
I opted to use this set of plant tags that comes in assorted colors.
Look for markers that are permanent and will not wash off. This has tips on which pencils, pens, and markers work on plant tags.
Free Tip Sheet
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Empress of Dirt
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Easy Houseplant Tagging System
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2Create Plant Inventory List
- Create an inventory list of all of your houseplants and their care instructions.
Use the printable list or create your own.
- Plant name (botanical and/or common name)
- Recommended care instructions. If you have the original plant tag, jot down that information. Otherwise, Google is your friend.
- Assign each plant to a water and light group (see below).
Tip For Identifying Plants
If you need help identifying your plants, Google Lens is my go-to free tool. Use the app on your phone to photograph your plant with a plain background and see what it suggests.
Yellow Tag | Dry
Plant prefers soil (growing medium, potting mix) to remain fairly dry.
Related terms: keep on dry side, moderately dry, mostly dry, water lightly.
Green Tag | Moist
But allow to dry out between waterings.
Related terms: moderately moist, consistently moist with some dry spells, water when top inch of soil is dry.
Blue Tag | Even Moisture
And do not allow to dry out between waterings.
Related terms: evenly moist, keep watered thoroughly, well-watered, keep moist, consistent moisture, no drying out.
Example: Orchids: soak entire pot in warm water for approximately 30 minutes every week or so.
Full or south-facing sun.
Code on tag: F
Note: Your location will determine how intense full sun really is. At certain times of year, plants may need to be set back from full sun window to avoid over exposure.
East or West
Medium light at an east or west-facing window.
Code on tag: E-W
Related terms: semi-shade, part sun part shade.
Out of direct sun, perhaps set back from a window or in some other part of the house.
Code on tag: Low
Related terms: avoid direct sun, prefers dark or low-light conditions, suitable for rooms without natural light.
Plants that adjust to any light conditions from full sun to low light are often marked as “easy-going” or “easy to care for.”
Code on tag: Any
3Create Your Plant Tags
Choose your tag color according to the water category (yellow, green, blue, pink).
Write the plant name, light code (F=full sun, E-W=east or west, Low=low light, Any=any light) along with any special instructions.
If you keep written records of your plants, it’s handy to assign each plant a unique ID number which you can cross-reference on your tags.
I also use the back of the tag to note repotting dates and any other events like taking cuttings for propagation.
Yellow Tag | Dry
- Aloe vera, dry conditions (yellow tag), full sun (F)
Green Tag | Moist
- Heartleaf philodendron, moist soil – allow to dry out (green tag), east or west sun (E-W)
Blue Tag | Even Moisture
- Norfolk pine, keep soil moist (blue tag), east or west sun (E-W)
Pink Tag = Special Care
- Showy tiger orchid, water by soaking entire pot in warm water x 30 minutes (pink tag), full sun (F)
There you go!
For priorities, light comes first. Pick a location in your home that best suits the sun requirements for each plant. As sun intensity varies throughout the year you’ll probably need to move your plants closer to or away from your windows accordingly.
With the tag colors, you can see at a glance just what moisture levels each plant likes.
For my plant collection, green and blue are the most common tags. Knowing at a glance which plants should dry out a bit between waterings and those that should not has made all the difference.
More Houseplant Tips
- How Often Should I Water My Houseplants?
- How To Make Plant Tags (Best Practical & Creative Options)
- Houseplants & Humidity: Tips That Help (& Those That Do Not)
- How To Grow An Avocado From Seed (Easy Method)
- How To Root Pothos Cuttings
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛