Your Best Labels?

Please help. My labels are already starting to fade. Last time I used a Sharpie pen on cut up white plastic, but after a season in blazing sun and frequent watering, even those began to fade. This year I used white paper strips surrounded by Scotch tape, which was a bad idea. I can barely see the numbers. Please offer suggestions for outdoor labels for crosses. Thanks in advance.

Instead of using an ink marking pen, I use a paint marking pen (see link below). They can be found in craft stores. Note, some paint pens are water based; I only have experience with oil based paint pens.



Sharpies are notorious for fading quickly, and are not a good choice. I use two marking methods: 1) a pencil on plastic plant tags. Pencil will not fade, and lasts for years. Purchased plastic tags have a smooth side and a matt side. The matt side is for pencil. It’s easy to see which side is which. 2) I also use a garden marker pen, like a Sharpie, but much more permanent. It is called the Gro-Mark Garden Marker. I am still reading labels made with this pen that were written 4 years ago.



I’m trialing “paddle pop” ( ice cream ) sticks from $2 shops and waterproof marking pens. So far, reasonable results, but I may have to paint the sticks.


I don’t label. I’ve never wanted to go through the bother of buying something to make labels, and they always get lost anyway, and in the garden I find them singularly unattractive. Instead, I make a simple drawing of my beds or flats, and write what is planted where on that. Shove it in a folder, and it will last practically forever.


I find that the sharpie on cut-up milk jug will last a bit more than a year. A second cross number, written below the soil line, will be more permanent. After that, I use a map to keep track. I drive cut-up PVC pipe (1/2 inch, 1.25 foot sections) into the ground to lay out a grid to relate the map to. For permanent plantings and pots (breeders, for example), I use pencil on cut-up white plastic venetian blinds. This lasts a few years. Again, a repeat of the name or number below the soil line isn’t a bad idea.

Last year I found that the white plastic of most bagged soil makes great labels. Cut yourself a piece, write in the cross with a ball point pen, and laminate it with clear tape. The tape may worn off by the end of the season, but the ball point letters remain clear. I knew somebody who had used “toe tags” from the morgues. I think he got it through a friend, but told me that they may be available at medical supply stores.

Whenever we have to shorten a venetian blind, we save the excess plastic strips to use as tags and then cut them in the desired lengths complete with point. We always use a pencil - they last a couple of years or so.