This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Friday, 3 April 2015

Labelling plants

Above: permanent pen has almost faded from last year.
Recently I've been making an effort to label plants, particularly when sowing seed or purchasing a new plant. Despite my efforts, I've discovered that pencil and 'permanent' ink seem to disappear from both wood or plastic plant labels within less than a year (sometimes much sooner). 

I've been looking at alternatives... I'm toying with the idea of purchasing a wood-burning pen kit to see if that would be a good solution.
Above: Permanent ink on a plastic label, (written a few months ago) is starting to fade a bit. Pencil works better on plastic but it too seems to disappear within about a year.
Above: A newly written label in pen on wood. How long will it last?

My gardening group has also had the problem of plant labels 'gone blank' over approx 6 months' time. Unfortunately, this has caused some confusion over what plants are where. We're also looking at low cost, more permanent plant labelling options.

If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to share.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.


  1. Since I grow mostly annual plants (veggies in the main), I actually like the fact that wording on labels fades quite rapidly! I re-use my labels 3 or 4 times, and remove the writing with white spirit. Why not ask your local Nursery how they produce their labels? I notice that the labels on bought-in plants often last a fairly long time. Another option might be the Dymo Omego Home Embossing Label-maker (available for instance from Amazon).

  2. I have this problem too. I've gone for a very cheap option though. I cut any plastic yogurt pots or the like into label size pieces and use the white plastic to write on with a permanent marker pen. This will last several months - normally good enough for summer veg crops. I use lots of labels to try to keep track of plant varieties. Last autumn I stapled plastic labels with permanent marker ink to small wooden stakes and then covered with polythene and stapled that in place. It's lasted over winter. Good enough for my veg down on the plot.

    For labeling in the garden I'm thinking of producing a plan to keep a track of plants and the varieties. I haven't seen a good method at a reasonable price yet.

    Will be interested to know how you get on with the embossing type of label maker.

  3. To add to Martyn's comment, we also have a detailed plan of what is planted where on the plot

  4. I think the best option is to create metal markers like the ones at botanic gardens. I don't use them but I've read they're very sturdy.

  5. I am just so glad that I am not the only one who has had this problem. The only different thing I have done is color coordinate with a legend LOL using colored popcicle sticks that I got at the craft store

  6. Thanks for the comments and ideas. I haven't yet decided the way forward, and in the meantime I continue to write on the white plastic cheapy labels. I'll update on the better option, once I find it.

  7. Hey Kelli,

    I think we used to reach other's blogs a long time ago. I was browsing through some of my old posts on Garden of Aaron ( and saw your comments from 2012. I'd like to invite you back to take a look on what I've been growing lately. :)

    As for your question, I haven't tried it myself, but I've heard that one durable plant labeling idea is to get a large smooth rock and actually paint the plant name on it. Like this --