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Friday Unfavorite: Plastic Plant Tags

March 29th, 2013

I must admit, I’m a huge scrooge when it comes to plastic plant tags. I dislike them very much, in fact dislike might be a little tame when it comes to expressing how I really feel about them.
plastic garden trash 1
Whenever I purchase a plant, the tag is put in a bowl in the garage, it is NEVER put in the garden. There’s nothing I dislike more than seeing those little tags peeking out of the soil. I know there are people who like to use them to keep track of plants, I am not one of those people.
Bowl of Labels 1
I actually wonder why people do put these tags in the garden, after only a season or two they’re often faded and falling apart or completely missing. The ones I keep in a bowl in the garage are still in great shape and provide a great reference every now and then.
plastic garden trash 2
Back in Ohio, I found tags from the previous owners up until the time we left (10 years later). The funny thing is that I never saw any of the plants I found tags for. Perhaps they blew into my yard from neighboring garden, or the previous gardeners didn’t have very green thumbs.
plastic garden trash 3
It looks like I’m back to finding relics of the previous gardens here. Yesterday was beautiful, I spent time in the afternoon picking up trash. I found quite a collection of plastic plant tags, all for annuals that have graced these gardens in previous years. No doubt I’ll spend the 10 years unearthing them from their tombs here.

What do you do with the plastic tags that come with the plants you purchase?

18 Comments to “Friday Unfavorite: Plastic Plant Tags”
  1. Mich on March 29, 2013 at 5:33 am

    I also don’t like the plastic tags, they sit in a pot in the shed. I have a clear out once in a blue moon as having gardened here for 20+ yrs they do accumulate!

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  2. Crinia on March 29, 2013 at 6:11 am

    I put them in my gardening books as place marks on the appropriate page. Eg. I have a blueberry tag and it is the page marker for the blueberry growing section of my fruit and vegetable guide.

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  3. Adelina Anderson on March 29, 2013 at 6:30 am

    I toss them in the recycling bin along with the pots. However in the past I had forgot what I planted and where I planted them. So this year I am making row markers out of fused glass and brass rods or old flatware.

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  4. Marina C on March 29, 2013 at 6:41 am

    I keep them in a glass jar in the shed. Then, when the season is over, I take them in and update my plant list, organized for each area by bed in the garden book.
    Perennials are listed in, and for annuals I just keep the ones that are unusual or I am very fond of.

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  5. Hazel on March 29, 2013 at 7:19 am

    For annuals I tend to throw the tag away, unless it is a new plant and the tag as more information than I’d be able to find on the Internet or in my gardening books (which is pretty rare.)

    I do tend to tuck the perennial tags in the soil with the perennials, as I find that prevents me stepping on forgotten perennial plantings (or mistaking them for a weed!) in the spring before they re-emerge.

    If the plant is a tree or shrub, or a perennial that came with a guarantee I also leave the tag on/near the plant or with the receipt in my garden binder. If the plant fails/dies despite my TLC, I can obtain a refund/exchange/credit depending on the store’s policy. And, it also helps to alert me to any problems with a nursery’s stock (“hmmm… no more trees from that source” kind of thing).

    Finally, for my own seed starting efforts, I’ve come to accept that pre-made plastic plant tags suit my setup. In the past I have cut them out of plastic containers/lids, used popsicle sticks, etc. but when starting hundreds of plants, I find the uniformity and ease of use of the plastic permits clear labelling of varieties (and as a result promotes accurate observations about which ones do better for me). My UV resistant garden marker doesn’t fade at all, and at the end of the season I collect all the tags for reuse. If I’m growing the same variety the next year I just clean, sterilize and reuse the tags. If the variety is not making an appearance again, the ink comes off with rubbing alcohol and the tag can still be reused.

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  6. Lisa on March 29, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I never put them in the ground, either. I will tape them in my garden journal or transfer the data into my journal. It has helped me learn the species names for plants.

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  7. Victoris on March 29, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Agreed. In my early gardening days I used to mark to help me find where perennials slept & to learn about new plants. But now I just save them up & recycle them. Now that I’m growing more from seed I have fewer tags to contend with.

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  8. Adriana on March 29, 2013 at 8:45 am

    So true! I’ve picked old brittle tags from just about every place we’ve lived. I usually recycle tags from 6-packs and small pots. I keep tags tied around shrubs and trees for a couple of years on the plants and then eventually remove them.

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  9. whit on March 29, 2013 at 9:33 am

    We don’t buy too many plants with those plastic tags in them. The ones i do keep (sometimes i leave them at the garden center) i place in a drawer til i know the plant is established, then i put it in my garden book. When i seed, i use popsicle sticks. And when my daughter gardens, we make a mural of her tags, so she can see what see has in her bed.

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  10. KimH on March 29, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Most of the time I throw them away.. It irritates me seeing them laying around too.. but I did tuck them in the soil next to the plants when I bought my blueberry bushes several years ago. They were still in good shape and out of sight.. but I should get some of those permanent copper markers for them.. It looks like they’re all gonna live. ;)
    I moved them last fall and they’re looking pretty happy where they live now..
    For seed starting markers, I use wood tongue depressors and write on them and stick them in the soil if need be, but I also have a number system on my trays that I dont have to have anything to mark them. I write the number system down in my garden book and that works for me. I did some winter sowing containers and used plastic dinner forks for plant ID.. They’ll be tossed eventually.

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  11. Maybelline on March 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    I’m similar to you except I place the tags in my Sunset garden book as references and bookmarks.

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  12. Misti on March 29, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I don’t really like having them but we have been labeling all of our plants until we really get comfortable with their names. I like the idea of a jar of them and just flip through when needed.

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  13. Deb on March 30, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I’m glad they come with the plnats, then I can label what is where. Not bad looking at all and no need to make or buy something else. I repurpose everything possible so it would be a waste to make or buy something else when they’re provided for you. Since I seed hundreds of plants for myself I reuse if possible and then cut cottage cheese or other containers that are appropriate size for my own use. I had a couple hundred pots, double that on actual seeds, so labeled with variety and date seed was started. Works great and very little work to do that as not all plants are started at once.I put some in the garden some don’t make it there, but in fall I collect and the few go into my sons outdoor woodstove. Those old flatware look nice but it would be such a waste of money and time to make them into labels.Here finances means reuse and repurpose everything possible. If you get the plain straight ones with a plant those you turn over and reuse wfor your own seed starting. if alcohol doesn’t take off the writing, then I trash them.

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  14. on March 30, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I put the tags in a shoebox in the area where I keep my seeds. I really only keep them for perennials, since I have plenty of other records for my annuals each year. Like you, I keep unearthing different plant tags. I’ve found several for flowers and lots of different vegetable plants.

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  15. Nita on March 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    We use them in the greenhouse in flats only and for plants we sell. NEVER do they find their way to the garden, I use twigs or rocks to mark my rows in the garden. No need for tags…since I planted or seeded the plants, I know what is in the garden.

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  16. Amy S on March 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I am a scrapbooker so I save my perennial tags then when the flower blooms I take a picture and put them together in my book. I do use it as a reference especially when we have our annual garden club plant sale then customers can see what they look like.

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  17. Dan on March 31, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    For perennials I put them in a spread sheet and recycle them. Then years later it is really easy to figure out the particular names of each plant.

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  18. RobinL on April 1, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I keep my plastic plant tags in two photo albums, one for annuals, one for perennials. I can refer back to them at any time to see the name or care requirements for the plants. The annual book gets cleaned out and restarted every year, of course. Of course, sometimes the tags need the points trimmed off to fit in the photo pockets.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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