The danger of plastic labels
Whenever you buy a hosta, it usually comes with a beautiful plastic
label, that provides all the information you need.
Or you make your own, a sparkling white label, written on with an
absolutely weather proof marker.
But !! Beware !! I'm sure of it: hosta-labels LIVING CREATURES
Somewhere, well hidden, they have tiny little arms and legs they use to
crawl away from their plant, if you don't put them in the soil deep
If they can't move, they use their tiny sponge into their little hands
and ... it may take them a while, but eventually they succeed in wiping
of the writing !!
And, even when your marker proves to be stronger than their sponges,
you're fighting a loosing battle, because plastic labels don't live very
long; three year max and the part above the soil dies.
Take such a deceased little label in your hands and it will crumble into
unreadable, tiny pieces.
The only place where such a plastic label really feels at home is
below the soil surface, under or besides the plant.
Make sure to put the label in the same position for every plant, like on
the right hand side.
This will provide you a backup should your new, ever lasting label go
Having learned the need for a permanent label the hard way, I decided
at the beginning of the 2006 hosta season (March 2006) to relabel my
entire collection (some 300 plants at the time) with aluminum T-labels.
Where to buy them?
I started out searching the internet and ... came out empty handed.
When a label costs as much or more than the accompanying plant,
something is definitely wrong in the cost an profit balance.
them myself ?
What can a self respecting Homo hostaholicus at times like that: he
sets out to produce his won labels.
What do you need
- aluminum flat profile, I used a width of 25 mm (1")
I found them in 1 m ( 40") en 2,5 m (100") lengths in a local DIY
galvanized iron wire, length 1 m (40"), diameter preferably more
than 2 mm (0,08").
Found it on the internet with a large reseller of knutselgerei and
Unfortunately, I ordered a 2 mm (0,08")
diameter, just a little bit on the thin side, which makes them a
little bit to flexible.
I've tried out different flavors, a heavy duty construction glue
suited my needs best (Fix-All by Soudal).
- glue pistol
- metal cutting scissors
- a pair of pliers
- cup of water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid
Let's do it
- cut the aluminum flat profiles into pieces of the desired
For me this is 10 cm (4").
You can saw them, but this takes
- ply the iron wire into a long, high U-shape.
practice: ply back the ends of the two legs. They act as barbs
and prevent the label from getting pulled out of the soil
- if you grow plants in containers, mini or small, cut the
iron wire into 50 cm (12,5"). A H. 'Pandora's Box" in a
container with a label towering 35 - 40 cm (8-10") above it,
really an unsightly sight.
- apply 2 lines of glue to the back side of the aluminum
- press the legs into the glue, the closed end of the U-shape
should be 3 à 5 cm (1,2-2") above the strip.
- dip your finger in the water with and gently rub the glue
inwards, so the iron wire is completely surrounded with glue.
- allow to dry for 24 hours and
Printing the label
You can write on these labels with a weather proof marker, a
paint marker, a pencil (readability on aluminum guaranteed for
... very, very long).
But, given the amount of effort
that went into these labels and because I was very pleased with
the final result, I wanted the text on the label to be on par.
If you'd ever seen my hand writing, you'd understand why writing
them myself was no option.
I remembered reading topics on the
Hosta Forum on absolutely weather- and light proof self
The thing to go for is a P-Touch printer
On e-bay I found a P-Touch 9200PC, at a fraction of the cost for
a new one.
The main advantage of this particular type of printer is it
has a PC connection, which allows you to retrieve the desired
data from you collection database or Excel file, saving you a
lot of work. This also compels you to store all of your
collection plants in a data file, which may seem a lot of work
just to get some labels, but you will be grateful for it in the
long term, since you always will have a record for every plant
in your collection.
The labels themselves
(TZ-labels) come in cassettes (8 m (320") tape) . They exist in
a wide range of colors (background and printing) and widths ,
and are made of several layers.
I chose for a transparent
type with black lettering, which keeps the aluminum underneath
visible, 24 mm wide.
The printing never fades: no ink is
used, the characters are burned on one of the inner layers.
The tape is rather expensive, but I still consider it good value
Tip: print your labels in batches. The printer has the bad
habit of cutting a small piece at the beginning of the tape with
every separate print command.
Using large batches can save you up to 6 labels per cassette.