It’s always easy to locate your favorite plants during the growing season – their blooms and foliage make great identifiers. But once frosty weather arrives and things go dormant, most of us have a little difficulty remembering exactly what we’ve planted where. That’s when spring weeding gets a bit tricky. Every gardener has a story of pulling the plant and leaving a weed in its place. And that’s where plant markers come in handy.

Rock marker under bush
Labeled rocks blend in well with different garden designs and make attractive plant identifiers.
Photo Credit: Tammy Clayton
Thuga plant marker
You won’t have to worry about these plant markers blowing away in the wind!
Photo Credit: Tammy Clayton

We’ve all tried the plastic pot tag method of plant marking: sticking the plant tag right in the soil next to a new garden addition. Then the summer sun deteriorates the plastic, making it so brittle that it snaps apart at the soil line. Sure, some of our tags might make it to winter. But by spring, whatever’s left of those plastic markers is scattered everywhere by the treachery of bitter winds and heaving frosts.

There are options, of course. You can buy bright-white, heavy-duty aftermarket plastic plant markers. But sun and water still fade the writing. (Here’s a hint if you stick with the plastic: Use pencil – it’ll last longer than any marker you can buy.) You can also purchase copper or other metal plant markers. The indents you make as you write the plants’ names into the metal will last and last, although this can be an expensive way to identify your plants. Furthermore, you’ll still have little white or metal monuments all over your planting beds, detracting from your garden’s beauty.

But there’s another alternative for year-round plant identification: “Rock of Ages” markers. These simple and inexpensive plant “labels” are easy to make, won’t blow away and make attractive additions to planting beds. All you need is a number of flat, smooth stones and a permanent magic marker or enamel pen.

Rocks come in all manner of lovely, natural colors to enhance any garden’s décor. (And those worn smooth in a stream or river won’t tear up the tip of the marker.) Good rock candidates shouldn’t be hard to come by. Check with your local rock yard and pick through the lot for some cool options, or search the banks of nearby streams and rivers.

Next, bring your rocks to a washtub and scrub them clean. You’ll want to make sure to remove all dirt and debris so your writing stays intact and doesn’t flake off with the dirt. Once they’re dry, simply write the plant names directly on the rocks. If you use a permanent marker to write on the stones, you’ll need to refresh the letters every couple of years. If you use an enamel pen, your writing should last for years on end. (Just be sure to use light-colored markers on dark rocks and dark ink on the lighter ones.)

Then just place each marker in the appropriate spot in your garden. It doesn’t get much easier than that! These stone markers are inexpensive, easy to create and won’t get tossed around your yard by the elements. Best of all, they’re lovely natural additions to your garden – making them the true rock stars of home-landscape plant labeling!