These plant markers are the longest lasting option I have found. They are completely weather-resistant and will last year-round outdoors indefinitely.
If you want more creative ones, see these ideas for making your own unique plant markers and tags.
Plant Tags that Last for Years
If you are looking for a durable, reliable plant marker and label system, this may be the answer. Both the markers and adhesive labels will endure the seasons indefinitely and, dare I say, they may outlast us all.
I discovered these plant markers through Betty Fretz of Floral and Hardy near Moorefield, Ontario where they used to sell zillions of gorgeous plants starting with the letter H (hostas, heleborus, heucheras, heucherellas) and more.
In Betty’s situation, she has to keep track of hundreds+ of plants outdoors through the hot and humid Canadian summers and wickedly cold Canadian winters. I knew if they work for her, it’s a system I could rely on.
I’ll show you exactly what Betty uses and how I adapted it for my garden.
If you just want a super reliable marking pen and don’t want to print labels, I’ve listed the best choice for marker paint pens here.
Supplies and Instructions
- These Kincaid markers are 10 gauge stainless steel. They are available in a variety of styles and sizes (10″, 15″, 20″ heights).
- The plate size is 1 1/8″ x 3.5″ which allows oodles of room for your plant labels.
- You can buy them directly by mail order from Betty in Canada or from Kincaid Gardens in the U.S.
The Marker Labels and Label Maker
- The labels are made using a Brother Laminated Tape (TZe251). If properly applied (see below), they will last for years. and the
- This Brother label maker allows you to print 3 lines of text on one label.
To ensure proper adhesion:
1. Clean the plates of the plant markers with methyl hydrate and allow to dry. This will remove any grease or residue on the markers. Methyl hydrate (also known as Methonal – see Wikipedia) is commonly found in the paint section of stores and used as a paint thinner or glass cleaner. Mine cost $3.69.
2. Apply the labels as directed making sure your fingers do not touch the sticky backing of the label or the cleaned marker plate. Grease and oil are the enemy of good adhesion.
Zinc Garden Markers
- This summer I was given a box of hundreds of zinc plant markers and, being the frugalista that I am, I decided to use these up before investing in stainless steel markers. While the zinc markers are okay, they are not nearly as strong as the stainless ones and will disintegrate over time. But so far they’ve been through 3 years of winters without any sign of wear.
- Many mail order seed and plant companies sell zinc markers. You can also see zinc garden markers at Amazon.
- I got this label machine on sale at half price for $20 and they seem to go on sale quite often. . This label printer allows 1-2 lines of text on a label.
Brother Black on White Extra Strong Adhesive Tape
- One tape is 0.47″ wide and 26.2 feet long, so it makes quite a few labels. Here's TZES221 tape at Amazon. It comes in several finishes and colours but make sure you get something that’s extra strong and laminated (if available).
Choices And Considerations
- Think about how tall you want the garden markers and which way you want the plates to face. I like to be able to read the labels without having to bend over.
- Consider the size of the plate when deciding how you will label them. My zinc plates are 2.5″ wide. Betty’s are 3.5″ wide.
- The label makers allow you to choose different fonts and font sizes, plus upper and lower case, and a variety of signs and symbols.
- For a good overall look, choose one style and stick with it. For example, left-justified text in one upper case font.
- Decide whether you want to use proper plant species names or common names. I use markers on a lot of vegetable seed tests so I use common names from the seed packets with additional codes written with a grease pencil or HB pencil on the back of the marker indicating where I got the seeds and when I started them.
- Floral and Hardy Kincaid Stainless Steel Plant Markers (Canada)
- Kincaid Gardens Stainless Steel Plant Markers(United States)
- Brother P-touch Label Maker (Amazon.com)
- Brother Laminated Tape (Amazon.com) – look for extra strong adhesive with laminate
If you’ve tried these markers and the Brother labels (or have something else that really works), let me know.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛