Are you tired of forgetting what you planted where? If you have an even slightly crafty side, read on for some fun ideas for how to mark your fruits, veggies, and herbs with style. Whether you bake them, paint them, or string them, this list of DIY plant markers will have you raiding your craft drawer in no time!
We all have a picture in our mind of the most perfect garden. For me, that’s a geometric series of raised beds, cobblestones, kitschy birdhouses, and teepees made of trailing beanstalks. Before I get to that, I need to be able to remember where everything is first! That’s where DIY plant markers come in handy.
These are great rainy day projects that are completely personalizable and easy for green thumbs of all ages. Older kids will love hammering utensils flat, while younger ones will appreciate the freedom to bring out their inner artist while helping with the garden.
Remember shrinky dinks from childhood? My siblings and I used to spend hours colouring these little treasures in, baking them up, and marvelling at how TINY they became. It was endlessly fascinating.
Turns out, they’re easy to replicate—no kit needed. All you need is some #6 plastic (save your store-bought casserole and take-out container lids) glue, and popsicle sticks. Draw a picture of the fruit or veggie in permanent marker about 6” high, colour it in, and cut it out.
Pop it onto a baking sheet and cook it up at 350° for a couple of minutes. They might curl up a bit, but will lay down flat once they start to cool off. If not, just press them flat with a utensil.
Let them completely cool, glue onto popsicle sticks, and you have your very own DIY suncatcher labels.
2. Seed Packets Under Glass
I’m guilty of leaving seed packets tucked in between stems, or leaving the labels of things like blueberry bushes tied to the plant. For the first few months of the growing season it works fine, but it’s messy and a very lazy way to “label” a garden. It’s also a good way to guarantee the packet gets ruined or lost.
If you want to keep all of your information right next to the plant, a great way to do this is with a mason jar.
Just slide your empty seed packet over a stake (mini blind, bamboo stake, fork, spoon, etc…) and pop an inverted jar over top. This looks really cute and keeps all the important growing information right next to your plant.
*FYI, mason jars turned upside-down work really well for protecting solar lights as well.
3. Metal Spoons
There’s no need to raid your silverware drawer. Visit a thrift store where previously loved metal spoons are a dime a dozen, and the variety of styles and patterns will add quirkiness to your beds.
Paint them with bright colours before labelling and shellacking them, or go the full nine and use metal stamps like the example above.
Flatten the spoons out with a hammer first if you prefer, or you can leave them in their natural shape.
4. Bamboo Spikes
Dollar stores carry these little bamboo fences for edging, and they come apart from the threading really easily. The spiked ends are perfect for putting in the ground, and the surfaces are simple to label. Best of all, they’re around $2 for a large bundle.
I got the idea when I saw wooden plant markers with cute stamps at my local Mom & Pop nursery. I bought a few for gifts, but needed way more to label my own garden beds.
Bamboo is pretty hardy, but if you want your labels to stand up to time and weather, it’s best to shellac the surfaces.
5. Painted Rocks and Shells
Shells and rocks gathered at the beach or from trails throughout the year are perfect for garden décor. They’re all natural, and can be decorated however you choose.
Many childhood afternoons were spent painting giant clam shells at a beach cabin with a cheapie set of watercolours, and you’ll find it’s just as fun now. For best results, use paint markers (you can really get detailed with these!) or acrylic paint topped with acrylic varnish. Drill a hole in the shell and string it up, or lay it flat among the greens.
6. Mason Jar Lids
What can’t mason jar lids be used for? As you munch through last years’ canned goods, save the used lids and turn them into DIY plant markers for this years’ crops.
Label or paint and seal your markers as you like, then punch holes near the top using a drill and small bit, or a hammer and nail. Then, string them up with twine wherever you want.
You can glue them onto sticks and spikes as well, and add pretty beads to create a bit of jewelry for the garden. In the example above, the crafter used Mod Podge to secure printed labels to each lid.
7. Paint Stir Sticks
If you’ve ever painted walls or furniture, you likely have stir sticks laying around. If not, just visit your local hardware store and ask nicely for a few.
Stir sticks are great for colour coding your garden, and since they’re a bit larger, they’re easier to label clearly. This is another great use for paint pens or leftover acrylic paints and you can dress these up as much or as little as you want.
Note that if you’re in a humid environment or get a lot of rain, wooden markers are best for indoor use unless you’re going to seal them up.
8. Mini Blind Slats
You can find old mini blinds at thrift stores or flea markets, and the slats make excellent outdoor DIY plant markers since they don’t break down.
Cut them down to whatever size you like, label with paint pens, and seal, for an easy weather-proof solution. Quick, easy, and long-lasting.
9. Forks and Corks
Save those corks! Label each cork lengthwise with what you’re growing, seal it, and stick it to the tines of cast-off forks.
As with spoons, you have the option of hammering the fork tines flat, which will work better for getting the corks on straight. These are super quick, simple, and look really cute with a short length of twine wrapped around the handles.
Painted and labelled clothespins (plastic will last longer than wooden) look cute when clipped on to tomato cages, twine, sticks, etc. They’re easy to move around without disturbing the soil too much and are small enough that they suit any garden with a more minimalistic look.
Also serving as a watering device, a labelled bottle can be decorated to the nines with any craft items, from paint pens to gems, and anything that can stand up to sunshine and water.
Sometimes a vintage, or vintage looking bottle on its own looks good enough as is. For darker bottles, label with a white or silver paint pen, and for clear bottles, you can use a darker colour or black for easy visibility.
12. Plastic Toys
Colourful plastic toys all painted up and labelled add a new element of fun to gardening, especially for older kids who will leave the markers in place.
You can use construction vehicles, sea animals, safari animals, anything really. Pair them alphabetically (truck with tomatoes, a giraffe with garlic, a jaguar with jalapenos, etc…) for an educational twist and to help the kids remember what’s what if they can’t read yet.
Collections of animals can be found at the thrift store or dollar store for cheap and painted with acrylic paints, labelled with a white marker and sealed. This is a great way to add colour while waiting for veggies and flowers to sprout.
13. Stamped Clay DIY Plant Markers
Bake up some polymer clay markers for indoor plants: they look really impressive and make excellent gifts!
All you need is polymer clay, shaped into 2.5” thick rectangles around 5” long, and some alphabet stamps. Cut one edge into a point, and move your markers to a baking sheet.
Carefully stamp the name of each plant lengthwise on the marker and bake them up. Baking time and temperature will be clearly indicated on the package.
The finished product will last quite a long time when treated with care. You can create all kinds of other markers with polymer clay as well, using seasonal stamps and cookie cutter shapes.
Another idea is to create tea bag markers by cutting the clay to the size and shape of a tea bag tag, baking it up, punching a hole near the top, and stringing twine through.
The marker can be labelled with a paint pen and when the plant is placed in an old teacup, it looks absolutely adorable.
14. Broken Pots
Upcycle broken terracotta pots into DIY plant markers that also double as dividers. Write or stamp the name of the plant on the rim of a broken pot using a permanent marker or paint pens and “plant” them into the ground.
I used this method using painted pots to decorate a flower bed (sans labels) and it really does add a really nice rustic touch, and a hit of colour.
There are endless ways to modify and personalize the ideas above using all kinds of materials. No matter which you choose, you’ll never forget “who’s who” again.