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How to Make Free Plant Tags/Labels From Recycled Plastic Containers


Lady Rain works as a daytime stock trader and writes about crafts and travels. She spends her weekends doing papercraft models and painting.

If you are a home gardener who likes to grow your own crops from seeds, I am sure you have hundreds of seedlings growing every summer. Do you label each of the pots that you plant the seeds in? If you haven't, how frustrating it will be when you cannot recall what types of seeds you have planted in the little pots several weeks ago. All seedlings look the same (especially tomatoes), even though they are different varieties.

When you do not know what the seedlings are, you will not be able to transplant them in their correct place in the garden. Different plants have different requirements, and plants that are planted in the right location will thrive better and produce the best harvests.

The most important thing you have to do when planting the seeds is to label the pots. You will need to buy lots of labels if you have many varieties of plants, and labels cost money to buy. Not only that, it is too much of a hassle to drive 15km to the local nursery to buy the labels while you are having such a great time in the garden.

recycled plastic plant tags

recycled plastic plant tags

Here's how you can recycle a few plastic bottles and containers, and make your own plant tags and labels. Look around your house especially in the kitchen, garage and even the recycle bin, you will most likely be able to find some plastic items that can be recycled to make those useful plant labels or tags. Empty ice cream tubs, takeaway containers, yoghurt tubs, and margarine containers are the best plastic items that can be made into plant tags for free.

Make use of empty plastic containers

Make use of empty plastic containers

After you have salvaged those plastic items, you will need a pair of scissors to do all the cutting. Here I have chosen to start with the lid of an ice cream container. Cut away the sides of the lid so that you get a nice and flat piece of plastic. You can do the same with the ice cream container, and it will give you a few pieces of flat plastic.

Cut away the sides of the lid

Cut away the sides of the lid

With the piece of flat plastic, cut it into strips of 1½ cm to 2 cm wide. After that, take one of the strips and trim it to 12-15 cm long or just leave it as it is, if you prefer a long plant tag for bigger pots. Cut away the corners at one end of the strip so that you get a pointed end for inserting into the soil.

Cut the plastic into strips

Cut the plastic into strips

There you go, you have made your first plant tag. Now, do the same with the rest of the plastic strips and you will have a handful of plant tags to label those seedlings.

Plant tags for free

Plant tags for free

Your homemade plant tags are now ready for use in the garden. Use a permanent marker pen to write on the tags.


The plant tags can also be recycled again for labelling the plants that are growing bigger in the garden. Use a paper hole puncher to punch a hole near the pointed end of the tag. Insert a twist-tie or garden string through the hole and secure the plant tag to a branch of the plant.

Punch a hole near the pointed end of the tag

Punch a hole near the pointed end of the tag

Label the young fruit trees with your tags

Label the young fruit trees with your tags

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 lady rain


Anna Richmond from Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 23, 2015:

Oh my goodness! Thank you for sharing this! I just bought seed start my garden before summers hits and I had no idea how I was going to labels all the pots. I almost resorted to buying popsicle sticks at Michaels but this is way cheaper!! Again, thank you!

lady rain (author) from Australia on March 28, 2012:

savingkathy, when you know how to make your own plant tags, you will never have to buy them again. Thank you for stopping by to read my hub.

Kathy Sima from Ontario, Canada on March 28, 2012:

I love this idea! I will definitely be doing this when I plant my vegetable garden this year. Thanks for sharing!

lady rain (author) from Australia on December 12, 2011:

RTalloni, I am glad you like this idea. Best of all, these great looking plant tags are free!

RTalloni on December 12, 2011:

Yay for this idea of using what we already have to make the plant tags!

lady rain (author) from Australia on October 08, 2011:

randomcreative, thanks! I have been making my own plant tags for many years and have never run out of plastic to make them. Thank you for dropping by and leaving comment.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 07, 2011:

Wow, awesome idea! And so simple. Thanks for sharing!

lady rain (author) from Australia on October 07, 2011:

purp-drag913, thanks! I am glad you like my hub. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. Cheers from lady rain.

lady rain (author) from Australia on October 07, 2011:

@DeborahNeyens, thanks! Perhaps you oould write a hub about your mini terrarium.

@Dumbledore, thank you for stopping by and leaving comment. I hope the plant tags will make gardening a lot easier for you.

@davenmidtown, when you have more than 10 varieties of tomatoes, there is no way of identifying them without their tags. Thank you for commenting.

purp-drag913 from West Michigan, USA. on October 07, 2011:

lady rain, You're a genius!!!!! So simple, so perfect. Loved the photos that went along with your article.

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on October 07, 2011:

Wow A very easy way to green up the garden! You are right all tomato seedlings look the same.. lol... good job.

This Old Guy from Somewhere in Ohio on October 07, 2011:

Thanks for the useful information. When I place things in my garden I remember what is what for the first season; after that, I have a har

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on October 07, 2011:

Brilliant idea! I always try to repurpose things to use in my garden. I once turned a plastic container that a dozen cupcakes came in into a mini terranium for starting seeds.

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