As avid gardeners, Tracy and I have searched online for ‘best plant signs’ or ‘best plant labels’ and best ‘everything’ as it related to making plant identification signs for our garden plants and trees. We’ve been researching how to label our plants and trees for years! I bet you’ve search for this once or twice yourself!
There are many ways to do a good job with making plant labels and there are many businesses that can engrave a plant tag.
Here’s where we ended up in our search for an attractive plant ID sign that lasts a long time and met the goals in our search for the best plant label possible for our garden and tree collection.
We came up with the Plants Map Tag.
Goals for the Plants Map Tag:
- Durable – We didn’t want to have to replace these every few years.
- Easy – We did not want to create these one at a time.
- Inexpensive – We didn’t want to pay the prices we found online!
- Attractive – We wanted botanical garden quality plant signs.
- Secure – We didn’t want these plant tags to get stolen.
- Interactive – We wanted a QR code on the plant sign to link to the plant listing in the database.
- Green – We wanted to make these in the most eco-friendly way possible while meeting our goals.
- Safe – We didn’t want the plant ID tags to damage the tree.
- Versatile – We wanted to put these plant tags on stakes or hang from a branch.
The Plants Map Tag
Over the years, we’ve spent hours with our Avery label maker printing out plant labels and sticking them on aluminum wire stakes knowing all the while we were making the tags that we’d have to replace a portion of them the next season.
One of the primary goals for this new plant sign was that it had to be durable and if possible.
We found a metal plate that is used by the military to identify the external parts on machinery and aircraft. It requires a laser to burn into the surface of the tag instead of an etching or engraving process. If it’s good enough to last 10 years outdoors on an airplane, we think we’re on to something!
Many of us already keep a spreadsheet or a notebook of the plants we own with botanical names and common names. Now, instead of keeping that information in multiple places we enter our plants under our profile in the Plants Map database and the process is so much simpler because the fields on the order form to buy a tag are automatically populated from the information we typed about the plant. No more re-keying in everything!
Our old process of printing Avery labels and sticking them to the aluminum stake could arguably be seen as inexpensive for the initial costs, but they only lasted a year or two before they were bent and corroded and we had to remake our tags. We didn’t have access to an engraving machine and want to pay the prices we were quoted for traditional engraving either. One custom tag at any given number of websites was $20 at a minimum! Taking these to the local trophy store was twice that amount! This was totally out of the question for our budgets.
By automating the process and sending the data to the laser directly we’ve figured out how to get the costs down significantly. With a sturdy 20″ stake attached to the Plants Map Tag, now we’ve already cut our spend significantly over the do-it-yourself price – not including the hours of prep time we were putting in to make these tags ourselves and the drives to the trophy shop or fiddling with someone’s website and filling out a lot of forms, proofing, etc.
When Plants Map launched, we interviewed over 600 master gardeners, plant collectors, arboretums and botanical gardens and learned that that signs and tags are regularly stolen.
While we haven’t totally met the goal of making the signs more secure or theft resistant, each Plants Map Tag has the name of the garden on it. If you were touring someone’s garden and saw a sign with another garden listed on the tag then that would be a clue that it was stolen! We’re already working on other ways to make the tags more secure by using different types of stakes.
No one wants ugly tags in front of their plants. We wanted something nice where if we spent that money and were going to look at these for many years, they would look nice.
We researched the styles of signs at botanical gardens across the country and came up with a uniform template with the commonly included information and designed it to be clean and look nice.
Plants Map Tags include the botanical name and common name of the plant. They also include the garden name. The size is about the same as a normal business card and the font sizes are large and readable. The black color doesn’t glare at you as you walk through the garden.
Plants Map Tags can be either mounted on stakes or used as ‘branch tags’ and hung inside the tree on a branch with coated 14-gauge wire or what we call a “ski tag” tie. These ties are similar to the familiar zip ties but they don’t cinch down and hurt the branches of the trees. Each tag has a small hole in it so that if you wanted to start out with a stake and later move to a branch as the tree gets bigger you don’t need a new tag.
It’s hard to make the argument that a metal tag and stake are green. However, we think that the fact that these plant signs last a really long time should get some credit in the eco-friendly department. We’re huge supporters of green practices and we’re always looking for better ways that are earth-friendly to do everything in our garden. If we find a better way to make these tags that is more environmentally friendly we’ll check it out.
I’ve saved what I think is the best feature about these Plants Map Tags for last… The QR Code on the Plants Map Tag!
I can now use my mobile phone and scan the QR code while I’m out in the yard and make my notes on my plant and add new pictures to the plant listing in the Plants Map database while I’m standing right there at the plant in my garden!
For gardens who have visitors it is even better!
Visitors can scan the QR code and the plant listing will open in their browser and they can read all of the additional information about the plant right there on their mobile device. Visitors can also favorite a plant and share the plant on social media.
If someone really likes a plant, instead of stealing the sign so they remember what it was, now they can just click ‘Like’ and have it added to the plants they’ve liked on Plants Map.
Any garden, but especially public gardens, where they don’t have anyone to count visitors at a gate can get analytics on the number of people who scanned a tag and look at other data like most popular times of day, most popular days of the week or things like most visited parts of their garden or find out what plants were shared most and look at that data across the year.
More Information on Plants Map Tags
When you add your own plants to Plants Map, there is an option on the bottom of the page of each plant to purchase a Plants Map Tag for that particular plant. The code will link to that particular page and plant.
We are working hard to make the highest quality Plants Map Tags possible while keeping the price to the bare minimum.
We’re thrilled with how our the project turned out for our own uses and excited that we can share it with others who are thinking the same things we were thinking when making labels their gardens.
We’re sure you’ll love these tags in your garden, yard or arboretum!