Staying organized in the garden is important, and ever year, I tell myself I’m going to do a better job of keeping things neat and orderly.
…and every year I fail. But this year is different! Because I’ve been feeling crafty…
And because I can’t remember what I put where without referring back to my garden layout sketches.
So I decided to look into making my own DIY garden plant markers. There are all kinds of options out there, many of which use items you can repurpose or reuse from around your home.
I’ll tell you all about the method I went with first, before giving you some info about other methods you can try.
Acrylic Tile Garden Plant Markers
- Paint brushes
- Acrylic Paint Outdoor paint will last longer, but isn’t necessary
- Clear Acrylic Sealer Spray
- Tile adhesive
- Sticks or pieces of wood for stakes
- Paint whatever you want to be on your tile plant markers using the acrylic paints. It may take a couple of coats. Allow the paint to dry overnight.
- On a sunny day, take your painted plant markers outside where there will be adequate ventilation. Cover the surface of each tile with a thin layer of acrylic sealer. Allow it to thoroughly dry before adding three more layers of sealer. Don’t spray so much that it runs, just enough to coat, being sure to let it dry well between coats.
- Using tile adhesive, attach the painted tiles to a stick or piece of wood to use as a stake. I just used some scrap pieces of wood leftover from another project. Let the glue dry overnight.
- Stick your awesome new plant markers in your garden, step back and enjoy! These should last for several years before you will need to touch them up with another coat or two of acrylic sealer.
Mine are by no means perfect, but I think they’ll add a little charm to my garden. I had a box of old white ceramic tiles I picked up for free somewhere years ago, and thought they would be just right for this project.
I also made several of these for my herb bed using half-tiles.
Chalk and Blackboard Paint Labels
Blackboard paint is one of the best tools to turn any surface into a writeable surface!
You can use blackboard paint and chalk on any material – like a glass jar, a piece of wood, or a piece of plastic – and then use it as a plant marker in the garden.
Just keep in mind that you may want to use some sort of sealant to prevent the chalk from running off in the rain!
A rock garden label is a classic choice. You can easily make your own by finding small pebbles outside and then painting them with the name of your plant.
They won’t break down and as long as you use outdoor paint, they’ll last a really long time.
Spoon, Fork, and Knife Markers
You can use just about any kind of old kitchen utensil to create new plant markers for your garden. All you need to do is write the name of the plant on the utensil and you’re good to go!
You can use plastic utensils, too, which are super cheap and easy to mark up. Wooden spoons are another creative idea.
DIY Pot Labels
Have some old terracotta pots (or pieces of pots) lying around? Why not make some labels out of them? You can inscribe the name of the plant on the broken piece, or you can use an entire pot as a label if its still intact.
Glass Jar Labels
You can use any type of glass jar to label the plants in your garden. You can even use mason jars that are cracked, chipped, or in some other way no longer useful for being used for canning or food storage. You could also use things like old wine bottles.
Just use chalkboard paint or a similar no-run paint and mark the name of the plant on the bottle. Then, turn the bottle upside down and stick it into the soil. You could also hang it from a post if you don’t want it directly in the ground.
Seed Packet and Popsicle Stick Labels
A fun way to repurpose your seed packet is to wrap it around a popsicle stick. Plant it in the garden and you’re good to go! Just keep in mind, it might disintegrate once it gets wet.
Plain Ol’ Popsicle Stick Labels
If you have some popsicle sticks lying around, you might want to just write the name of the plant on them. This is one of the easiest ways to make labels for your garden and will help you keep track of all of your plants!
I’ve tried making cork labels in the past and didn’t have a lot of success with it – I think I need to revisit how I made mine, because there are a few options you can try.
The method I chose was to use kabob skewers and pierce them into a wine bottle cork with the name of the plant written on it. The skewers, unfortunately, broke once the combination of wind and the weight of the cork became too much to bear.
But another method you can try is to cut the piece of cork down the middle and glue it to a popsicle stick. This might work better, so I’ll have to give it another go!
Mason Jar Lid Labels
Have a bunch of mason jar lids lying around? After all, you can’t reuse them between canning sessions, so they tend to add up quickly.
You can use either old Mason jar lids or even lids from aluminum cans. Simply rinse them out and then write the name of the plant on the lid. Easy as that!
If you have old corrugated board or corkboard lying around – like the material used to make real estate signs – you can easily use it to make your own labels. Just cut it into appropriately-sized strips and put the pieces in your garden. Simple as that!
You can print out the name of any plant in your garden and laminate the paper. Then, you’ll have a weather-resistant marker all ready to go!
If you have a few clothespins lying around, consider writing the name of the plant on it before putting it in the ground.
DIY Plastic Labels
If you have bits of plastic lying around and don’t mind putting plastic in the garden, you can easily make your own version of the plastic plant labels they sell in stores.
Just cut a water bottle or milk jug into strips and write the name of the plant on it.
Scrabble Tile Markers
Do you play a lot of Scrabble? Are you missing some of your tiles? If so, you might want to give this idea a try.
Use your remaining tiles to create markers for your plants by gluing them to thick popsicle sticks.
And if you don’t have extra Scrabble tiles lying around, know that you can often purchase them for very little money from craft stores or on Amazon.
Painted Wood Labels
Have a few old blocks of wood lying around? Paint the name of your plant on them. You’ll love how beautiful and rustic your new plant markers are!
I love the idea of putting natural items in the garden. It not only gives the whole space a more cohesive, organic appearance, but it also means that when the markers eventually break down, they won’t hurt the soil but instead nourish it.
Go out to your yard and gather up any twigs and sticks you can find. Pull a bit of the bark off the sticks and then simply write the name of the plant on it before sticking the twig in the ground. Easy peasy!
If you have a few extra bricks lying around from a construction project, you might want to use them to make your own upscale plant markers.
These can be a bit more expensive, so if you don’t have pieces of brick on hand, I would steer away from this option. But if you do, trust me – you’ll have the most stylish garden around!
Wire Hanger Markers
If you’re like me, you probably go through a ton of wire clothes’ hangers. Either I break them or they become misshapen – either way, I also end up needing to get rid of a bunch.
This is a great way to repurpose them! All you need is a few scrap boards that you can suspend from the hangers and you’ll be able to label the wood with the name of the plant.
You can then use the hanger piece to attach them to a stake in the garden.
Whenever I go to the beach, I end up bringing a ton of shells back with me. I love having the souvenir, but unfortunately, they end up collecting dust half the time.
Why not paint the name of the plants you are growing on those shells and using them as plant markers? I love this idea, as it’s a great way to reuse items that are just hanging around the house.
Aluminum Duct Tape Labels
You can buy aluminum duct tape at most hardware stores. To make your own aluminum duct tape plant labels, all you need to do is write the name of the plant on the duct tape, affix to a surface, and voila! It’s as easy as that.
Stamped Clay Garden Markers
With a little bit of oven bake clay and wooden stamps, you can easily make your own stamped clay garden markers.
This method does require a bit more investment, so unless you have the equipment already lying around, you might be better off with another style of DIY markers.
Marble Topped Plant Markers
Do your kids like playing with marbles? If so, you might want to consider this fun idea. It does require a bit of work, as you will need to paint tiny icons of the plant on the marble before attaching it to a stick or stake.
Fuse Bead Plant Markers
Did you play with fuse beads as a kid – or do your children enjoy this fun activity?
If so, you should give it a try to make some plant markers. You can get fuse beads at a craft store if you don’t already have any.
Just use the beads to spell out the name of the plant, or, if you’re really crafty, form them in the image of the plant you will be growing.
Use a few bamboo stakes and a reusable label, attached to some string or a lanyard, to the stake. This is a great way to mark plants whose seeds you want to save next year!
Mini Blind Markers
I love having a dog, but unfortunately, he has wreaked havoc on my blinds. I no longer have blinds that he’s able to break by jumping up on the windowsill, but I wish I had saved them for this idea!
Instead of throwing out your old window blinds, you can repurpose them into plant markers for the garden. Just cut them into pieces and write the name of the plant on the segment.
Tips for Making Your Own Plant Markers
Ready to make your own DIY plant markers? Here are a few tips.
First, use some kind of permanent marker. You might need to spray the labels with varnish to seal the label, as even Sharpie can run off in a rainstorm.
You can also use an all-surface solution that can be used on any surface, including glass, plastic, or metal, which will be easily visible no matter what kind of weather there is.
You may want to keep a record of the information on your plant packets, too. You can just take a quick picture and then store it on your computer, or you can jot down notes in a notebook.
Either way, keep track of this information so you’re not left scratching your head in confusion later on!
Other Benefits of Making DIY Plant Markers
Sure, you can head off to the store and buy a bunch of premade plastic plant markers. But these don’t ever degrade and they can contaminate the soil with unwanted chemicals.
Plus, they’re expensive, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that they are so flimsy you end up using them every year anyway.
Having good plant labels is crucial if you are growing your own food and have unidentified plants in the garden.
They’re especially important if you grow perennial crops and want to avoid digging them up each year – something I almost always do with my rhubarb and horseradish! It can also prevent you from losing bulbs and is essential if you share a gardening allotment with someone else.
So give one of these ideas a try! They’re inexpensive and fun to make – maybe a great winter project for you to try once garden fever sets in?
Hopefully these markers won’t be the only pretty things in my garden this year!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.