Monday, September 13, 2010

Labeling; well, I tried

A recent post on reminded me to check up on an experiment I tried a summer back in my garden.  In 2009, when my garden was on the local annual Garden Tour, I put a little time into labeling most of the roses.  Knowing that the zinc/soft pencil labels are notorious for fading, I decided to spray some of the labels with Helmsman Spar Urethane, chosen because "it forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture" and "the enhanced ultraviolet absorbers found in Helmsman reduce the graying and fading effects of the sun."

Well, you can see the results below.  The three labels pictured were all created and put into the garden in Spring, 2009 and remained there, so they've been exposed to two Springs, two hot Kansas Summers and one very cold Kansas Winter. The urethane coating did decrease the fading, but there was a drawback, as you can see in the third picture;  at some point the urethane flaked off a number of the labels leaving them worse than before.  I'd say about 50% of the labels look like the first picture at this point and the other 50% look like the third; or worse.  We'll call this experiment a gigantic fail.

Coated Label at 1.5 years

Uncoated Label at 1.5 years

Oops;  flaking away...should say "Buck Rose" at the top

Back to the drawing board, eh?  Must make a note to redouble my efforts to keep plant locations listed on the computer....and backed up.


  1. Use a paint pen (the type from the craft store) on your galvanized labels. The oldest of mine are now in their third year, and they show almost no sign of fading.

    If you really want to go uptown with your labels, check out the ones from AAA Quality Engraving in Louisiana. I have a bunch of these in the garden and they look great!

  2. I've tried the paint pen and found it flaked off letters as well. Maybe it's the actual brand name of pen that will make a difference.

  3. When you get this figured out, let me know! Nothing I tried really worked. And nothing, but NOTHING stops a seven-year-old from relocating the markers anyway!

  4. LOL. It’s a gene programmed in to aggravate parents…In a gardener’s child it’s manifested by a strange urge to shuffle the names of daylilies and irises.

  5. Aieee, labels! I think I've tried everything, and even those press-the-name-into the galvanized metal tags get hard to read. One year I tried using large wooden labels in my veg garden, where normally I can't even get the name to last over summer. I spray-painted the label first with white or yellow paint, then wrote on it with a sharpie marker. Worked pretty well, but the label needs to be repainted every year and I got lazy. Sigh. Let's all keep trying, and report back.

    Enjoying your blog, BTW. My sister is newly relocated to Kansa but do I ever hear anything about her garden? noooooooo. So I will enjoy reading yours instead.

  6. Hey Professor,
    Yea, I went through all the different types of pens, pencils, markers, etc. The supposed labels with the laser printer ink doesn't last either. So, I got this going in my yard. They are cheap, easy to make and last a long, long time. I did a blog about it:
    Hope this helps.

  7. Greetings from Wichita! I use a Brother "Electronic Labeling System."It makes "plastic tapes that really last (Try Amazon Brother Ptouch GL100). For the obsessive-compulsive, you can have easy-to-read detailed labels. You can even add data when you planted the plant - do it on the back side of the metal..

  8. Not as fancy but these hold up well. You can print these to your needs

    Print with your standard office laser printer Laser Printable Plant Tags

    Or print these and stick them on the tags you are currently using
    nursery laser labels


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