Plant Labels and Nursery Tags

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When I first started working at a garden nursery, I remember the owner showing me where the plant labels and nursery tags were kept way in the back of a storage space in a boxes on tall shelves.  I asked him what he does with the left overs and he looked at me perplexed.  I wanted them, and he had no problem with letting me take them, although I guess he wondered why.

To me, plant labels are an amazing resource, a mini-library of sorts for looking up details about a plant you just purchased or one you have been admiring in your garden for years.  I keep my plant labels in a box and sometimes when I can’t remember a particular detail, I may rummage through my boxes to find the label.  It can be a bit of like going through an old photo album where the other pictures (labels) I look through remind me of fun days of the past.  I’ll come across labels reminding me of a plant and how it performed, where it was used, and it also reminds me that I’m plant crazy.  I sure have tried out alot of varieties.

Of course, today the QR Codes right on the plant tags and labels, direct you instantly to detailed information about the plant or product via your smart phones with an instant scan.  BTW, here’s mine to my Facebook business page.  (Note:  The buttons are not showing in the correct language, if you know why, tell me – I’m new to this.)

Cathy T’s FB Page

I find the QR Codes are super helpful as well, so perhaps my old box of labels will be retired to the recycle bin or, heck, maybe some day they will be collector’s items just like old concert tickets or baseball cards.  With technology, who knows.  The younger gen may look at a plant tag someday in the far future, and ask, “What’s that?”…, like they do with record albums.  But, for now, I have to say, when I see a “good label,” I still have the urge to keep it in my reference box of labels and nursery tags.

That happened just the other day, yet this label for the plant was one I could not fit in a box.  My husband and I were shopping together, and he saw a blackberry plant.  “I want this,” he said.  Well, I thought, I don’t get into planting fruiting deciduous vines too often, except for the unusual ones, like two kiwi vines I have growing (which take five years to produce fruit), plus we have wild berries on our property along the woods along with wild grapes, but hey, if he wants a blackberry plant – so be it, a blackberry plant I will tend to for him.

Blackberry Potted Up

So last weekend, I potted it up into a big container – yup, I could not resist the urge to put it on the deck with a pretty mini trellis versus planting it in the ground somewhere.  It is already poppin’ out buds, so he will get berries on his plant this season.

But back to the label, it was actually printed on the outside of the pot with color images.  The pot was the label. Listed is the habit of the plant, how to plant it, when and how to prune it, and the harvesting instructions.  Turning it around to the other side of the pot, it also included a list of “Blackberry Health Benefits.” Did you know?…, “1 cup of blackberries contains about 33% of the daily dietary fiber and 50% of the daily Vitamin C suggested intake.”  And they are “low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.”  All good.

Next to be listed on the pot was the “nutrients…” such as Iron, Zinc, Niacin, Calcium, etc.  That pot creation with the details on the pot is a job well done by the grower, also stamped on the pot by Berry Family Nurseries of Tahlequah, OK.  In checking the bottom of the pot, I noticed it has excellent drainage holes – 8 to be exact, and a recycle number so it is recyclable. Because all the information was right there on the pot, the information was not lost (as happens with other removable plant tags) and I liked the color image of the berries on it too.

So what do typical labels tell us?  Many will have the exposure (full sun, shade, etc.), the Latin or Botanical name of the plant and its common name, a photo of the plant, and of course the price.  Some labels will offer where to find out more about the plant and many today, probably all, have the QR Codes which you can snap a photo of or scan with QR Reader application to get more detailed information about it.  Usually the care and maintenance is listed along with planting steps.  And a good label should include its planting zone for which the plant is suited to, especially with many zones warming up.  Sometimes if I spot a plant I haven’t seen before at a grower’s or nursery, I’ll look at the zone on the tag…, and yup, it doesn’t happen often, but it may not be for our zone in CT, but if you are like me, that is okay too for I like planting plants in containers and enjoying them anyways.  I don’t limit myself to just my zone for container gardens.  Some labels may include information that it is for your region with words like, “Plants for the Northeast.”  Words handy for those that want to ensure they have a hardy candidate for their plantings in the landscape or gardens.

There are alot of nursery tags and labels in vibrant colors or with little logos or recognizable icons.  Take Jeepers Creepers for example.  They have a cute little lady bug character on the tag next to their brand name.  Proven Winners labels are instantly noticed, not only because of their logo and label but because of their pot too.  Often white with the big PW trademark on the side.  Some labels are cut out in shapes, like Sara’s Super Herbs will have the top of a pepper plant shown with the label in the shape of a pot with a plant on top.  Their labels contain alot of details and I like that.  But again, with the QR Codes, perhaps labels will be reduced, which helps with the recycling issue, less plastic trash and production of paper products, I would imagine.  Lastly, many labels also tell you if their tag and pot is biodegradable.  We are certainly seeing more of those which is a good thing.

Labeling plants can present challenges for the growers.  They must stay attached to the pot, be able to get wet from watering of the plants, and I imagine are a big cost to produce.  But they are a must, for a plant without a label is really not very helpful to the gardener, especially if you want to pick the right plant for the right place and learn the plants details and features.   Cathy T 

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