My favorite plant markers

Like many of you reading this, I grow a lot of plants in temporary pots. I'm talking about utilitarian black (or green, or brown -- sometimes even white) plastic nursery pots. Maybe they contain seedlings, or divisions of bamboo, or plants I bought small and am letting grow up a bit before I put them into the ground. These plants need tags or markers in them, or I'd never, ever remember what they were.

I've tried a few different types of tags and writing implements, and this is the best solution I've found yet based on price and performance.


I use vinyl mini blind slats! If you don't have a broken mini blind, you can almost certainly find one at any apartment complex dumpster, probably any time you look. Or if you've ever purchased a mini blind like this, there are always plenty of extra slats included -- they usually fit windows that are a few inches taller than yours are. When you remove those extra slats, save them!

Then cut them into 2 or 3" lengths:

To write on them, you need a very special device: a pencil!

I've used various markers, and unless you get a relatively expensive one it will most likely fade due to UV exposure. Like magic, after a year in the sun your tags are completely white again. That does not happen with pencil -- it doesn't fade, nor does it wash off with rain.

The advantage to using pencil as opposed to a paint pen is re-usability. If you have a tag that already has writing on it, you can still remove it too -- just wet the tag and rub it with your thumb for a few seconds until the pencil markings are faded. I've used a little soap too and I don't know that it really helps -- rubbing with plain water seems to work just as well.

Tag to be reused.

After wetting and rubbing a bit.

You may not completely erase the writing, but it will be good enough to reuse the tag:

New info written over the old erased text.

There are only two drawbacks to using these tags.  1) the corners can be very sharp, so you may want to cut them off (like in Battlestar Galactica)  2) Raccoons sometimes like to chew on these things:

I'm not sure why they do this, but I've had a few tags with teeth marks in them. Only once did I have the whole thing shredded like that though.

So, pencil on vinyl mini-blind slats. The best cheap plant markers I've found. Give it a try!


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Janet  – (September 26, 2011 at 9:40 AM)  

Great tip, Alan. I'm always looking to recycle for cheap, effective plant labels

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (September 26, 2011 at 12:36 PM)  

I agree with Janet, cheap and environmentally friendly since you're reusing what would otherwise be thrown away. I'll keep my eyes out for a few stay slats.

I use pencil on plastic plant markers. Like you, I've found pencil to be far more permanent than anything else.

Great post.

Anonymous –   – (May 5, 2016 at 8:34 AM)  

Hate to say it, but I don't trust vinyl blinds because of their history of shedding lead as they age:

Unknown  – (May 5, 2016 at 10:05 AM)  

I have been using these for 40 years I posted to several garden mags this suggestion back in the late 70's.

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