How To Make Your Own Plant Labels (3 Easy Botanical Labels & How To Read Them)

There are endless creative ways to label the plants in your home, backyard, or community garden.  If you like to keep things simple, some popsicle sticks and a sharpie might be all you need to mark your plants. 

Whether you’re looking for quick and easy or hoping to use something a little more fun and sophisticated to mark your plants – keep reading!

Once you get a solid idea of which plant label style is best for your garden, you’ll be on your way to marking your garden in style!

Now, as far as the content on your labels go, you have plenty of options.  These options will range anywhere from one simple common name (i.e., tomato) to detailed labels that include scientific names, native ranges, cultivars, and accession numbers. 

If you just thought to yourself,  “What the heck is all that stuff?!” — You’re not alone.  We’ll go over that in a clear, concise way a little further down in the article.

For now, though, it’s worth noting that the content you choose for your garden labels will depend entirely on your preferences and the purposes you want your garden to serve. 

We’ll talk about this in more detail soon, too.

If you ultimately decide to keep things simple with minimalist plant labels for your garden, consider these 3 charming, affordable, and easy-to-make ideas for DIY garden labels.

3 Easy DIY Plant Labels

  • Painted Rocks
  • Decorated Sticks
  • Repurposed Silverware
pawpaw rock plant label
This painted rock plant marker was made with oil-based paint that can survive the elements.

Painted Rocks

Painted rocks are a simple, affordable way to DIY your plant markers. All you need is some nicely shaped rocks of your choosing, a small paintbrush, and some paint that will withstand the weather. 

Yes, that’s really it. 

It’s your garden – so the choice in rocks and rock-shapes is entirely up to you. I typically look for rounded or oval stones because they’re easier to work with!

When it comes to weather-proof paint, you’ll want to make sure you’re using an oil-based paint (not water-based).

Better yet: oil-based paint suitable for glass, ceramic, or “multi-surface” will certainly fit the bill. 

As long as your painted stones have the proper time to air-cure, this type of paint likely isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Paint Hack: You can also swap out the brush and paint for some oil based paint markers. I love how the white Sharpie ones look on dark stones.

Nail Polish Hack: Don’t have paint? You can use nail polish instead! It works. (I know because I’ve done it.) You can even lay a thin coat of clear nail polish over the finished masterpiece to further protect it from harsh weather. 

You can check out a nail polish tomato label below:

tomato rock plant label
This tomato was both painted and weather-protected with nail polish!

It doesn’t matter if you draw pictures of plants and vegetables on the stones, write the names of them, or both. What matters is that you label your plants, have fun doing it, and are happy with the outcome!

Decorated Sticks

Here’s another easy one. For this, I would recommend using paint markers. However, you could also use paint and a brush if you’re skilled with hand-eye coordination (and feeling ambitious).

For the label itself, some people use wooden paint-mixing sticks from a home improvement store. Others use thick popsicle sticks (or tongue depressors like the ones they use in the doctor’s office). I’ve even seen people use wooden spoons!

popsicle sticks bright colors
You can use a Sharpie or oil-based paint pen to write the labels on popsicle sticks.

Another cool idea is to gather sticks from your yard or woods and peel off some of the bark to expose wood that you can paint on! (To do this, you’ll probably need a knife – just be careful!)

For decorated stick plant markers, it’s easiest to write the name of the plant (and any other information you’d like) vertically or sideways along the stick.

Once your stick labels are complete, all you have to do is *stick* them in the ground and your garden will be looking unique and stylish!

Repurposed Silverware

This is a cool one. For repurposed silverware, it’s best to use forks, spoons, or both. Knives are not only tricky, but more dangerous and less cool looking. So forks and spoons it is!

Just to give you an idea – a fork plant label will typically be painted on the handle and situated into the soil prong-side down. Conversely, a spoon plant label looks best when placed into the soil handle side-down so it’s obvious that you’ve used a spoon. 

So crafty!

The easiest approach to creating fancy-looking silverware plant markers is to start by dipping part of each piece of silverware in oil-based chalkboard paint (or matte black paint). If you don’t have enough paint for silverware dipping, a brush application will surely suffice.

painted spoon for plant label
You can dip your silverware in chalkboard paint to make a great background for a label.

Then, you can use white or pastel-colored (again, oil-based!) chalk paint to write plant information over the black surface you’ve created. 

What a lovely (and affordable) way to add character to your garden!

How To Read A Botanical Label

In order to read and understand a botanical label, look for a bolded, large-font word or phrase written in Latin. This is the scientific, or Botanical Name. Below or above the latin name, you should see a more familiar word or phrase naming the plant. This familiar name is called the Common Name. 

Usually (but not always) written in caps, you will find another latin word that ends in the letters “CEAE” (i.e. MALVACEAE). This is the plant’s Family. You may also find information that references a specific location or a range of locations. This is the plant’s Native Range – from which it has originated.

plant label
Here is a traditional botanical label, like the ones you would see at an arboretum or university botanical garden.
Image Courtesy of user:
via Wikimedia Commons:

A long number on a botanical label is called an Accession Number. This is used to easily log and identify a plant in a database. A single capital letter on a botanical label is called a Provenance or Source code, which indicates whether the plant was collected from the wild (W), from a descendant of a wild plant (Z), from a cultivated plant not known to be wild (G for Garden) or from an unknown origin (U).

If there is room on a botanical label, you may also find the plant’s Cultivar. This is a basic classification category and can be defined as an entire collection of plants selected and cultivated for desirable characteristics.

What Type Of Plant Label Is Best For A Home Garden?

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to finding the right plant label for your home garden. It simply depends on how fancy you want to get or how simple you want to keep things!

If gardening is simply a peaceful, calming hobby for you and you just like to prepare fresh salads for you and your family — then upcycled household plastic strips (like the ones you cut from food containers) and the word “Parsley” written in Sharpie will certainly fit the bill!

Conversely, if you’re looking to cultivate a specific array of botanical life in your home conservatory with the intention of educating your house guests on sustainability and plant propagation, you may be more interested in the latin botanical labels used in botanical gardens run by various organizations and universities.

Perhaps you want something in between.

For my garden, for instance, I won’t require humidity-resistant aluminum plaques like the ones you’d find in a tropical rainforest garden in Costa Rica.

I will, however, want my family to learn about botanical names, families, and origins. 

Therefore, simple “tomato” and “potato” labels probably won’t be the best fit for the role I want the labels to play.

Before you get too bored hearing me ramble about botanical labels, consider the notion that the coolest and most awe-inducing part of visiting a botanical garden is seeing the plant labels. The labels emphasize how extraordinary the plants truly are.

By the way, if you’re a little uncertain of what botanical gardens are, not to worry! 

You can read all about botanical gardens as well as why they’re important here. 

The labels you find in a botanical garden may vary depending on the particular garden, the type of plant, and sometimes even the garden administrator or organizer’s personal preference. 

A woody plant label should generally display the following information:

  • Common Name 
  • Botanical (Scientific) Name
  • Native Range
  • Family

For example, a Scarlet Oak label should read:


Quercus coccinea


Beech Family – Fagaceae

An herbaceous plant label should display the following information:

  • Common Name
  • Botanical (Scientific) Name 
  • Cultivar
  • Family

It’s important to note that different botanical gardens will include or exclude certain pieces of information. This will depend on the preferences of the individuals running the botanical garden as well as the space available on the label plaques.

Some botanical gardens will include a common name, botanical name, cultivar, family, and native Range!

For example, a Monstera plant label might read: 


Monstera deliciosa

Albovariegata, bonsigiana, variegata

Arum Family – Araceae


Monstera leaves
Monstera plants have holes in the leaves, but this is a normal part of their appearance.

If you want something fancy like this, you can have aluminum plaques or custom stamped botanical labels made by sellers on! 


The possibilities are endless! All you have to do is figure out what best suits the personality of you – and your garden!

If you’d like to learn about why botanical gardens are important, you can read about them here!

If you’re “Green” to gardening, or aren’t sure where to begin, please enjoy this article on how to get started with a garden!

If you’re interested in starting your own home botanical garden inside a greenhouse, you can check out some beautiful custom greenhouse builds here.

I hope you enjoyed this article by LMadGz.

I wish you a life full of bountiful harvests!

Happy planting!

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