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Plant Labels and Garden Markers From Used, Old and Broken Things

If you want plant labels that last, here are DIY ideas for plant markers, from creative to practical garden markers you can make. Some of these are fun for kids too, just take care with sharp pieces!

Gardeners tend to be a frugal and crafty bunch, so gardening and do-it-yourself projects go hand in hand. We don’t like to be wasteful and throw out something that could be reused. So we especially like the creative garden markers that upcycle materials into a new life of use.

Recycle, upcycle, repurpose and make the old new again! We hope you enjoy these cute and quaint ideas for making plant labels and garden markers using old, used or broken things. Please send us yours favorites tips and photos and we’ll be glad to add them to this article.

AUDIO ARTICLE: Plant Labels and Garden Markers:

Garden Markers for Herbs from Broken Pots

By Caitlin on[1]

You don’t have to trash those old and broken terra cotta pots. There are a number of creative uses for them, from fairy gardens to plant labels, recycle and repurpose them into new and useful garden markers.

This is a fun artsy project to do with kids too… getting them involved in writing on and coloring them… just be careful of sharp edges of course.

Use Broken Pots As Garden Markers
This and cover image by Caitlin of

Next: Reuse those Mason Jar lids for easy-to-see plant ID’s.

Plant Labels from Mason Jar Lids

My sister in law, Sarah, came up with this one:

“I got really tired of plastic plant markers you could never see once the plants got high. Not only that but every year the plastic garden markers got brittle and broke and had to be thrown away and replaced with new ones the following season, and they’re not cheap. So I looked around for a material that I was throwing away anyway and made these.

I tried them last year but the words wore off. Permanent ink wears off with the weather—that’s what I tried first. So does paint. That’s why you have to seal them. And the paint needs to be for metal. Other wise it just slides off.

An artist friend told me the kind of paint to get so that it wouldn’t rub off of the metal and how to seal them against the weather. There are several different brands of metal paint pens. I used a a Sharpie Oil Based Paint Marker Medium Point  and sealed it with Americana Multipurpose Sealer.”

You can reuse these each year, adding any new ones. If you don’t have stakes, you can buy them, or make some from old 1″x2’s” or 1″x1’s” lumber. Or, you may be able to buy some from your local hardware store.

Drill holes in the lids and wood, then screw the mason lids to the stakes. You can store them in a crate, ready for next year.

Plant Markers, Garden Markers, DIY Plant Labels,
Plant markers – garden markers – image by Sarah L. for

Plant Markers – Lids and Pictures

We definitely like how big and bold these are. Not much point in having plant markers that you can’t read because they’re too small or covered up.

If you like the mason jar lid idea, (thank goodness there’s a productive use of all those used mason jars!), then here are more iterations of that.

These use juice lids, so whichever lids you have on hand are fine. This approach is another good one for making with children if you have them. You can cut out the pictures of the plants you order from the seed catalogs and glue those onto the lids. The images will likely fade in the sun though, so this may just be a one-season thing, but it looks cool!

Using a foam brush, glue each image to the juice lid using Mod Podge or other sealant. Spread a layer of sealant over the picture as well to give it a glossy sheen and help protect it from the weather when it’s moved outdoors.


Plant Markers from Coat Hangers and Juice Can Lids

Idea by Diane of[2]

This uses lids from concentrated juice cartons, coat hangers and decorative beads. Now Diane said it just took her 15 minutes, so she’s fast… and she did use a dremel to drill the holes. But these look really cute. If you need more instruction, Diane lays it all out on her site.
Image from Diane of

Another novel idea: Broken silverware into plant markers up next.

Plant Markers for Herbs From Broken Silverware

By Marcie on[3]

These work better for potted plants or raised bed herbs since they’re on the small side, but using old bent or broken spoons and forks make cool plant labels. Now, we don’t tend to have many—or any—broke silverware lying around. But if you really like this idea, but didn’t have any, you could try yard sales and thrift shops, and it doesn’t have to be sterling.

This  charming rustic idea actually stamps the names down into the metal so it will look like you’ve had custom markers created when in reality, you can create them yourself from silverware that was ready for the trash.

This photo example from MossyMossy are hand stamped, and you can find Marcie’s process for doing that here.

Turn Broken Silverware Into Plant Markers
Image by Marcie of

We love this next one: hand painted rocks!

Hand Painted Rocks

Idea and images excerpted from the lovely Aussie, Anne Gibson, on[4]

This is one of my favorites. It takes me back to when my kids were younger and used to paint rocks, so it’s a great option for involving kids too. They always enjoy seeing their artwork adorning the garden, and gives them a sense of involvement beyond just helping.

The only problem with the stones is that they will often get hidden in high season by the foliage of the plants they’re intended to reveal. However, by then, most family members will already know what’s where, plus as the plants produce, it becomes increasingly obvious by what’s growing on it.

There are many different ways to paint these, so break out the creativity… a good activity for a rainy (or cold wintry, or overly hot summer) day, when you can’t be out in the garden anyway.

You could even invite a few friends over for a different kind of garden party!
Image from Sarah of
Image from Kristin Sellars of
Image from Anne Gibson of

Source: Anne Gibson,

Another cool tip? Seed packets under jars!

The Plant’s Own Packaging!


This is another favorite idea. Makes so much sense! You already have the plant image on the seed packet along with the instructional information on the planting and care.

This solves the problem of having hidden labels that are hard to see. You can also just reuse the stake and jar system in all subsequent plantings.


Image from Anne Gibson of
Image from

Contributions From the Community

Making creative plant markers to label your plants can be a fun thing to do in winter when you’re spring dreaming and planning your garden, but can’t yet plant. There are options for everyone, from plastic to bamboo; wood to metal; ceramic to glass, practical or whimsical; rustic or elegant… take your pick.

If your garden budget includes room to splurge on pretty things, Etsy has the most selection of artsy plant and garden markers.

Plastic Plant Markers

If you do use plastic plant markers, one member of the Planting for Retirement community, who’s a market gardener, says these plastic garden markers work for her. She uses paint markers for the plant names so that it won’t fade. She sent this screenshot of the garden labels she’s using.

Plant Markers From Old Mini Blinds

“I’ve used mini blinds for years. 6 per pieces. I fold In half, then in half, or whatever size you want. They last a long time; works great for years.”
~Nancy Shankel, gardener

Here’s a tutorial mini blind plant label article from Instructables.

Plant Labels on Rocks and Bricks

It’s a little hard to see it left center of the pic. That’s a broken brick that’s painted with primer. I used a paint pen to write the name on there. I use a lot of popsicle sticks with permanent marker for temporary things.
~Shannon Schofield of Shannon’s Sweet Tooth Farm

EDITOR’S NOTE: Use waterproof markers or paint for longevity. Cover with coating of sealant applied by spray or brush and it will last even longer!

Stone or brick plant marker ideas - Shannons sweet tooth farm -

Okay! These should get your creative juices flowing! Let us know what you’re using, or if you end up choosing one of these ideas, or something else. We’re glad to add your ideas here to spark the creative muse for others.

Keep on Growing!


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