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Labels that won't fade?

Posted by loribee2 CA 10-Sonoma County (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 2, 11 at 17:59

I'm having a heck of a time finding a way to label my seedlings with something that won't fade in the sun or otherwise disappear before I'm done with them.

I started out using a Sharpie on wood sticks. The humidity in my seedling tray caused the ink to run beyond comprehension. I then cut up slats from an old set of vertical blinds. The slats are thin plastic and work great, but when I write on them with a Sharpie, the ink fades in the sunlight before the plant is done producing. I then resorted to wrapping a stake with duct tape and "etching" the duct tape with a ball-point pen. That seems to be holding ground in our wet winter, but I can't help but think there's a better way.

I just started some new seeds and used ball-point ink on my plastic slats. The jury is out on how that will work.

So pray tell? What do you use to mark your seedlings that will last through humidity, rain and sun?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Labels that won't fade?

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa, KS 5b (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 3, 11 at 1:18

This year I am going to use Ebony pencil or 2B pencil on commercial white plastic labels that have a matte surface to accept pencil.

As I understand it, there are more permanent markers than Sharpie, but they are rather expensive and I haven't bought any. But Ebony pencils (and other soft pencil leads) are based on carbon black, which is very permanent.

Last year I used popsicle sticks, the craft store version, and that was an absolute disaster. My soil has a lot of microbes in it, and the soil literally ate the popsicle sticks within three months. The plastic labels that I used did fine with 2B pencil written text.

The plastic labels cost more than the craft-store popsicle sticks, but I "erase" the pencil writing with ordinary pencil erasers, Bon Ami, and fine sand paper and re-use the plastic labels from year to year.

ZM


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Thanks! I will do an internet search on Ebony pencils. I've never heard of them.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 3, 11 at 10:34

I've had people say they give the plant tags a spray of clear sealer or even swipe on clear nail polish if using sharpie -
The paint pens last longer than sharpie, found at Walmart, Michaels. Elmers and Deco are two brands.

Pencil is good.

I have a gardeners p-touch (Brother) and apply to plastic 8" plant stakes bought in bulk - the labels last more years than most home gardeners would need them to.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa, KS 5b (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 3, 11 at 11:40

loribee2,

"I will do an internet search on Ebony pencils. I've never heard of them."

Ebony pencils are widely available. You should be able to find them locally. You might even find them in Walmart, but an arts & craft store would surely have them. They are ordinary wooden pencils with extra thick extra dark lead. The pencil itself is round, painted black, and labeled "Ebony". Mine are labeled "Sanford, DESIGN EBONY Jet Black Extra Smooth 14420".

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

None of the usual methods worked for me...

This is the method I used last year and will use for the current year. It worked really well and is simple.

I bought multi plastic swords like you use in cocktail drinks. I kept a small note book and in it I recorded the color of each sword I placed in a particular container along with the plant info. The swords did not deteriorate and I can reuse them this year. Multi colored wood toothpicks will not work.

If you start to run out of colors then you can either buy a different type of multi colored swords which will increase your selection process. For instance, the plastic swords I buy from my wine store are different from the ones I buy from another store even though they are the same color.

Also you can double up in a combo definition meaning in a container you can place a blue sword and an orange sword etc etc.

Works for me


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Deco paint pen from Michael's. Labels/winter sown containers one and done. I'm re-using the labels from last year to stick in this year's WS containers.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Wow, thanks everyone for the great recommendations! Love the sword idea, and Gardenweed, you've got such beautiful handwriting I wish you could label mine for me, LOL! I'm also thinking about a label maker for my birthday. I didn't realize they could create waterproof labels. In the meantime, sounds like I'm off to Michael's.

Thanks so much for the wealth of ideas!


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I want more information on my labels. When I start my seeds besides the botanical name I want the date started. This goes a long way toward relieving anxiety over plants not yet germinated. I buy my pencils from Lee Valley Tools on line. The pencils are 2B and are made in the UK. Dark and easy to read and never fade away no matter how much sun, water or years. The plastic plant markers I buy from Harmony Farm Supply for $27 per thousand which is close to 3 cents apiece. I keep a piece of art gum eraser in the greenhouse and can easily erase the tags and use them over. After three or four using s the tags get brittle and are easy to break and it is time to buy more. Al


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Check out the link. We use their garden marker and white plastic tags for everything, from greenhouse to field. They hold up well in the sun and weather and we find them there, intact, next year. We make it a point to write the same thing (name, date, and any other info) on both sides of the tag just in case. The only problem I find with the marker is that it doesn't do well when you get it wet. Well, almost all markers don't, so no biggie there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Harris pens/tags


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

i realy love using sheet copper . somone gave me some as a gift years ago and now i make my own from scraps that roofers have given me. you write on them with a ballpoint pen over a soft surface like a magazine.it bends the metal so the ink isnt needed. you can erase them by rubbing out the metal with a hard stick on a hard surface and buffing out the oxidation with any thing abrasive.when they get old they arent shiny so they are inobtrusive great for my bonsai trees they last forever


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Thanks for the recommendations! The copper idea is a very creative one, as well.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I have been using aluminum cans, cut into about 3/4 inch strips from the top to the bottom of the can. Writing the name on that using a lot of pressure etches it on there. No need to worry about fading ink, anyway.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I engrave.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Old aluminum window blinds cut up with the Paint pen's Gardenweed mentioned from Michael s.
Gardenweed..I adore your handwriting!


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I've used plastic blinds in the past and found pencil held up best. I ran across the pen shown in the link below and may give it a try. This place seems to have good prices on plastic labels as well -- though I'll probably be Mrs. Cheap and use blinds again!

Here is a link that might be useful: Labels and pen


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Hi Folks,
There is also aluminum foil tape that can be written on and the pen leaves the indention. Then you just peel the back and stick it where you need it, on your winter sowing jugs or plant markers. I think you get it in the plumbing section of the hardware store.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I buy square white plastic pots for my tomato seedlings and wright the name directly on the side of the pot. I reuse the pots so next time I just cross out the name and write on another side. Can do that four times and have a fresh face to write on each time. If you can buy the pots for six cents each wholesale it doesn't make economic sense to pay 3 cents for a label. I use a sharpie and have never had trouble with it fading or rubbing off.
Also, with the name written directly on the pot there is no chance of a label falling off or it accidently getting switched.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I use grease pencils and they work wonderful. They don't discolor with the sun. It's the same kind greenhouse growers use. I buy them at my local office supply house for 1.29. They come in many colors. I buy the black, white, and red. You know the kind teachers used on the overhead projectors many moons ago. I guess I'm dating myself here with this info. anyway you can write on pots or on the plant tags and are self sharpened or I like to use a crayola sharpener to keep a good point. Hope my rambling helped a bit. Josie


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I have found that almost any kind of pencil on white plastic works best. The whiteplastic plant label you buy in the garden center work, but for the last few years, I have been cutting my own out of scrap white plastic from a company that makes illuminated plastic signs. Sharpie pens work okay indoors, but tend to fade outdoors. I have recently bought a P-Touch labeler that is working well so far, but I haven't tried it outdoors yet. By the way, Brother makes several other labelers that use the same tape but cost less than the garden labeler. These labels can be attached directly to the side of the pot or to a label stick. They hold very well, but can be peeled off when the pot is reused. (after sterilizing, of course.) They are waterproof, and according to the maker, usable indoors or out.


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a note about pencils. If you go to your craft or art store you will find pencils graded by H or B on a numerical scale.(H1, H2, B1, B2) HB is a medium point H1 is slightly harder, H2 is a little bit harder, and so on ( H2, by the way is the most common. If Your pencil does not have a grade designated, it is probably h2. This is the type used in schools.)going back, B1 is a little softer than Hb, B2 is slightly softer than B1 and so on. As a general rule, the harder the pencil, the lighter the mark it will make. The softer the pencil, the darker the mark, but, with softness comes an increased tendency for the mark to smear when rubbed. So, while a B6 pencil will make a very dark mark, you would not want use on a label that is subjectec to a lot of wear. Personally, for most garden use, I like to use an HB to H2 pencil.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

My pencils are 2B and smudging is not a problem. The P-Touch labels from Brother work fine outside, they remain very legible and I have never had the adhesive let go. However they are expensive(cost of the tape)and very slow if you are doing a lot of labels. Al


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Californian, where are you getting the pots for 6 cents each?

I could use some of those!


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I write the name on the top AND bottom of the label with pencil. The bottom name is in the soil and seems to last longer than the one above the soil line.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I simply use a Sharpie or other permanent marker on the standard 4 inch plant tags. The tags go with the plant when/if it gets potted up. Works great. :)

Oregon: Check your local nursery. I get mine for 5 cents a piece. lol

- Steve


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I saw this in junk section I have hundreds of precription bottles i used the lids . Angie

Here is a link that might be useful: lables


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

That is really cute! I wonder if the orange juice can lids rust in the rain. I don't drink orange juice, but am tempted to find a use for it just to get the lids! LOL

Here is a link that might be useful: my blog


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Springlift34, what material do you engrave on? Are you using an etching pen (such as the police recommended marking your belongings with)? Engraving sounds like a really good idea since you only have to do it once. I like doing it well, once!


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I am experimenting with a ptouch labeler this year. It makes things look so organized, but I don't know how they will hold up once I get them outside. It sounds like some previous posters have had good luck. I actually already owned the label maker (not the garden one--see link), so the cost was just tape refills for me. It would be great if they last more than one year...I bought the thicker (less brittle) plant tabs just in case :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant label pictures (on blog)


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My p-touch labels have held up for at least the three years I have been using them. I only use them on shrubs where they are put onto the metal stakes you push into the ground. They are too slow and too costly to use on annual plants, my opinion. Al


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I am happy to hear that your Ptouch labels have lasted 3 years. If I can reuse the annual labels for several years, it brings the cost down a lot. As far as being slow, I don't mind this time of year because it lets me start pretending that I might get to start gardening soon...it snowed here again today!

Here is a link that might be useful: My Zone 5 Iowa blog


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

I bought a bunch of metal garden stakes at the home and garden show. A guy had a booth selling gardening supplies. You mark them with a special black pencil.


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Couple of things:
Gardenweed -- I agree with others, beautiful hand!
Grease Pencil -- I have heard pencil works best to not fade. I made the mistake of using sharpie permanent marker. It wasn't.

Everyone using plastic stakes/markers; I use wood because it is a renewable resource, is inexpensive, and pencil writes well on it. Yes, eventually they rot; which is good! I hate digging in my garden and finding plastic tags from bygone years! Those using copper (expensive these days), etching, recycling blinds, etc -- kudo's to you! But that is too much work for this lazy gardener! Wood and pencil...simple and cheap; which is probably why that is what my grandfather used decades ago!

Stick with wood!


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RE: Labels that won't fade?

Soft black pencil on pieces of old plastic window blind slats are the best thing I have ever used. One blind picked out of someone's trash will last for years. Plus everything is recycled and FREE.


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