As a garden center worker, one of the challenges I face every spring is missing or unreadable plant tags on last year’s remaining plant stock. Like socks that vanish in the dryer, when the plant was put to bed for winter it had a legible plant label, but as I prepare it for spring, the label has vanished or faded into obscurity. These label-less plants just get set aside until they’re large enough to be identified and relabeled. Sometimes, the exact variety is never known, and the plant must be marked down in price and sold as a sort of mystery plant. Eventually, the right customer, who is willing to take a chance on a mystery plant, may come along, but most customers prefer to purchase plants with labels full of information about the variety and its growing needs.
In the home garden, plant labels are just as important. After a long, cold winter, spring beckons us to the garden where we may find that everything looks relatively the same. While it may be easy to distinguish between the hyacinths, daffodils and crocus, other patches of new green growth can be indistinguishable from one another. You may find yourself wondering was there a perennial there? Or is that a weed? You might also find yourself searching for plants that you had planned to divide in early spring, like hosta or daylily. Easy to read plant identification labels can take a lot of guesswork out of gardening.
While inexpensive and allowing you to easily make your own plant tags, blank plastic plant labels can prove to be a poor value because even permanent markers and indelible ink will fade from exposure to too much sunlight. These can also cause a smudgy mess when you are writing on plastic. There have been many days where I have walked around with plant names mirrored on my hands, because the marker I used to make a plant label came off when I touched it. The elements also make the plastic brittle in time, causing these labels to break. Ultimately, depending on the weather extremes in your area, these inexpensive, handwritten labels only last a season or two at best.
Companies like Sunshine Engraving, however, can help ease plant label issues like this, as they custom make inexpensive, durable plant identification labels for plant nurseries, botanical gardens and the home gardener. These labels are weather and fade resistant and can be custom ordered with whatever information you want on them. Custom fonts and different plant label colors are available too, making it even easier to differentiate between various plant varieties. Sunshine Engraving specializes in engraved, UV-resistant acrylic plant labels and hanging tags for trees, as well as galvanized steel plant spikes. It’s a great way to create your own custom plant identification labels without getting any marker smudges on your hands.
Having visited many botanical gardens and gone on many local garden tours, I always appreciate when plants that I am admiring have clear plant identification labels. After having worked with plants for years, I still come across many that I cannot identify at first sight. Weather and fade resistant plant tags are also very helpful in the vegetable or herb garden. These labels can be left at the end of harvested rows in fall to help you know where crops that need to be rotated, like legumes, were previously planted.