Labeling Your Plants

By MaryAnn Borcherding

Now you have your first daylily!  What happens when you get 200-300 daylilies??? It can happen before you know it!  I've gone through several methods over the years.  THE LATTEST method that I'm using if a combination of all three listed.   The club had 24” galvanized wires with a loop on the top made by Oregon Wire.  We had plastic credit cards which you can put a hole in with a punch.   You can print waterproof laser labels on a laser printer for the plastic card. The cards will become brittle and break after a few years. Eon markers can be purchased fairly reasonably through the website  Eon Markers do rust after several years so they will have to be replaced.  I also invested in a different stake to hold the label. These are 24" with a flat movable face. Plant markers are expensive when you have to order 200-400 of them.  These new stakes are easy to read in the garden, but a combination of all three is OK to keep your plants labeled.

Here is my best advice for marking/labeling plants.  I've used several types of pens an industrial Sharpie,  a pencil, and a china marker  which are good for a while but not great.  they will fade from the sun.   I have used the ZIG brand and found that it didn’t last. My current paint pen was purchased from Michaels and its “Garden Craft Terra Cotta Marker”. My latest foray into pendom is an IDENTI-PEN by Sakura.  This was recommended by several people on the daylily robin.  The sun is the enemy of the marker. When using a plastic blind or plastic plant marker I write on the front, the back and into the bottom of the stake that goes into the ground.  Pencil doesn’t fade. This combination ensures me that one of the markings will be visible in a few years.  Also placing a marking tape in the ground when you plant it will still be readable after years in the ground. With my new labels I’m still using some the Eon markers with my new flat faced stakes so that each plant is labeled twice.  The reason being...When the daylily is at its peak labels are hard to see on the ground.  The new markers can be up around 18” and you can see the label easier. I love watching people, daylily and non-daylily, walk through my garden reading all of the names, some of which are quite creative.

If you want a printed label for the tag, you must use a waterproof laser label. You can use a laser printer, OR,  you can print the labels on a plain piece of paper, take it to your copy machine and  have it copied to a sheet of waterproof labels.  Waterproof laser labels will last many many years. Before I had a laser printer I’ve used the waterproof laminated Dymo  labels.  They too have lasted many years.  They’ll discolor with the chemicals in the water and fertilizer,  etc, but they can be cleaned with a little alcohol. Nothing lasts forever so it is an ongoing chore to keep them readable. 

Remember it is almost next to impossible to identify most daylilies a year later or a few years later when the tag is gone.  If you want to contribute to the club sale table you will need to know what the name of the daylily is.  Red daylily doesn’t cut it.  If you think someone can come to your house and identify daylilies this too is a losing proposition.   There are just too many look a likes.  There is nothing worse that thinking that you purchased a certain daylily only to find out at bloom time that is isn’t what you thought it was.  If you keep a list of your daylilies and a rough map it would be easier for someone to identify a plant from your list or you can go to google images and see if your mystery plant is the one you think it is. Keeping a list on excel or using the Plantstep Program is easy.  Make it easy on yourself and keep a record of your plants when you bring it home. Another good tool is to take pictures of the plant while Its in bloom.  Be sure to get close so that the flower fits into the frame and someone might recognize it by its distinctiveness or if they grow it in their garden.

This may seem like overkill, but this method works.  Label your plant with at least two labels.  Labels get ripped from the ground by dragging hoses, rampaging dogs and chickens, catching it on your pants, tripping on them, falling face first into your daylily bed etc.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Winter time is a great time to take inventory and make a plan.  Start making those labels!