vinyl blinds as plant tags (was Re:New Moraea hybrids, 2015)

Lee Poulsen
Wed, 27 May 2015 00:31:17 PDT
The labeling methods I've experienced that work best are:

Vinyl labels, whether cut from mini-blinds or purchased directly, such as from this source: <…>

And the three longest lasting writing methods I've experienced are:
1. Using a black oil-based ultra-fine tip paint pen. Permanent markers, waterproof markers, or Sharpies only last a few years in full sunshine before fading in comparison. I learned about ultra-fine paint pens from an article by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery. You can find them at craft stores like Michaels. You can write hundreds of labels before they start leaking too much.
2. High-carbon pencils. But they don't always mark well on vinyl labels for me. Carbon is not a dye or an ink and can't fade because it's an element. High carbon pencil on zinc-galvanized aluminum or pure zinc labels last almost forever since the carbon reacts with the zinc to form a permanent chemical compound so there is nothing to fade as well. But metal labels are expensive (in the amounts I need).
3. For some reason, this one lasts incredibly long: Labels made with a labeling machine, like a Brother label-maker, on transparent tape and then stuck on a vinyl label. I think these use some kind of heat processing that changes something embedded in the tape into a black color. Anyway, it doesn't fade either, and although the tape is somewhat pricey, you can make quite a few labels with one cassette of tape, and if you're more organized than I am and have all your plants in some kind of database on your computer, you can automatically generate labels with any pertinent data on them that you choose. Also, the stickiness somehow permanently bonds to the vinyl and it never comes off. I have some plants that were given to me in the mid-1990s that came with labels made this way and the letters are all perfectly dark black and legible to this day, and even though vinyl in the sun will eventually start to crack, everywhere where the label covered the vinyl, it hasn't cracked and is held together by the tape, even though the vinyl isn't as flexible as it was at the beginning--even though these labels have been in full sun 9 months of the year in southern California heat and dryness for 20 years now.

I have found that metallic Sharpies don't fade like the permanent black ones do. My hypothesis is that it's because the metallic color comes from actual metal particles which can't fade because they're metal and not some kind of dye or ink. But "fine" tip Sharpies are not anywhere as sharp as ultra-fine tip paint pens. However, just recently I found some ultra-fine tip metallic *paint* pens at Office Depot/Office Max, so I'm going to try some labels using those and see how well they do as an experiment.

I also tried using white wax pencils on the pots themselves. But the marking gradually rubs off over the years. And it seems that some bug even eats some of the writing as well over a few years, and then the letters start to become too hard to make out their shapes.

Anyway, these are my experiences.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USA - USDA Zone 10a
Latitude 34°N, Altitude 1150 ft/350 m

On May 26, 2015, at 12:01 PM, Mee <> wrote:

> I also use old cut-up blinds and love them. They are easy to see and read. I
> also plant regular labels under the dirt because some critter loves to steal
> tags.
> I use pencil and waterproof ink on front and back of labels. The pencil
> lasts longer outside, but they are about the same inside the plant room.
> I have also started using a white permanent marker on the outside of my
> pots. I learned to do this when taking plants to a local garden sale. It is
> easier for shoppers to see what they are getting.

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