Irises forum: What Permanent Labeling Is Best For Irises?

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Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: United States of America Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Master Level Native Plants and Wildflowers Peonies Hummingbirder Dog Lover Lilies
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TBGDN
Sep 14, 2016 3:38 PM CST
After several years of trying different labels I find some of mine are becoming unreadable, damaged and rusted. This is a real problem for correct plant ID. My question is based on the need for long term quality and weather-proof durability. (Something that really holds up.)

All suggestions are welcome, and can include your personal opinion, actual pictures and sources for ordering. Here are some of mine and the obvious reasons I'm looking. I am sure you will be helping others out there who have the same problems. I am happy to get all ideas. Thanks!

Thumb of 2016-09-14/TBGDN/5d4875
Thumb of 2016-09-14/TBGDN/6250e6
Thumb of 2016-09-14/TBGDN/d21fe1

Lux Umbra Dei
Name: Mika
Oxfordshire, England and Mento
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Critters Allowed Daylilies Irises Roses Hostas
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cliftoncat
Sep 14, 2016 3:44 PM CST
I'm really glad you started this thread, Leon, although unfortunately I don't have the perfect answer. I've been buying Impresso tags from the US (at silly cost in terms of UK customs and admin fees). I really like the way the names are 'engraved' so won't wear off, but the wires they come with are too flimsy. I'm experimenting with thicker galvanised wires, but don't have it right yet...
So I'm looking forward to hearing what people say. I'm all ears!
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: United States of America Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Master Level Native Plants and Wildflowers Peonies Hummingbirder Dog Lover Lilies
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TBGDN
Sep 14, 2016 3:54 PM CST
Thanks Mika-
That is very helpful. Our winters here are simply bitter cold with lots of snow: Another reason I need something durable.
Lux Umbra Dei
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Sep 14, 2016 5:32 PM CST
Based on my experience with growing daylilies for many years, the only labels that I have thus far found to be long term legible are the engraved ones done by AAA Quality Engravers. http://www.aaaqualityengravers.com/ The are unbeatable for long term legibility and looking good in the garden. I buy them with the "Simply Elegant" stakes.

That said, there are some problems that I have with these stakes... 1) I am lazy and so it is something of a pain to work up an order list and send it off... 2) Prices are based on how many you buy, the more the cheaper, so it's not great for onesie-twosie orders (and by the time you amass enough plants that need labels to put in a large order, see #1)... 3) once you finally work yourself up and send out the order, you have to wait for it to return (there may be delays if "everyone else" is ordering at the same time), and then you have to go and assemble the labels onto the parts that connect to the stakes, and then connect those to the stakes... and 4) people (or animals) can knock the label off of the stake; at best you have to find (and sometimes clean) the label and put it back on, but sometimes the connecting part has broken, so you have to go order another label. (Ditto if you can't find the missing label, which has happened here more than once; you have to go and order another label.)

My medium and long-term alternate to using the engraved labels are these Wren stainless steel labels - they are very tough and solid. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0078IF6TW/ref=oh_aui_sear...

Cost per, assuming 100 labels :

AAA Quality Engravers: 1.70 per label plus 1.35 per (shorter) "Simply Elegant" garden stake (I have found that I prefer the shorter stakes) = 3.05 per plant (but the engraving does not fade, and it looks good in the garden)
Wren (15.45/pack of 12): 1.29 + per plant, plus cost of printed out stick-on label (whatever your system) or paint or garden marker ink (but the labels can fade or potential come off, and the garden marker ink eventually fades too)

The Wren labels are obviously cheaper, extremely sturdy, and are good for quickly banging out labels (whether you write on them or P-Touch label them or whatever), but for my taste, shiny metallic labels aren't the most beautiful thing in the garden. I use them for longer-than-short-term, but after that, if I know that I am going to keep the plant, then I prefer to get a AAA engraved label.
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: United States of America Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Master Level Native Plants and Wildflowers Peonies Hummingbirder Dog Lover Lilies
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TBGDN
Sep 14, 2016 6:12 PM CST
@Polymerous,
Lots of useful information: AAA Quality Engravers seems to have a top notch product. Like you I would have to get an order together, and that would take some effort here! I also appreciate the added information in #3 & #4. At least this is useful in planning ahead and makes a great fall project for most of us. (at least me) Thanks! Thumbs up

(Edited to add: Gorgeous DL seedling in your avatar!)
Lux Umbra Dei
[Last edited by TBGDN - Sep 14, 2016 6:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
Sep 14, 2016 8:01 PM CST
I started with Kincaid Labels in 2009 -- I haven't had to replace one yet, and I've never been sorry about that decision.
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Niki
Bend, Oregon (Zone 6a)
Flowers are food for the soul.
Region: Oregon Bee Lover Butterflies Daylilies Dragonflies Frogs and Toads
Hummingbirder Irises Organic Gardener
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HighdesertNiki
Sep 15, 2016 12:00 AM CST
I have been using cut up aluminum blinds. With professional sharpie on one side and pencil on the other. This is what Thomas Johnson recommended and used at Mid-America gardens too.
"The Earth laughs in flowers."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Irises Keeper of Poultry Roses Dragonflies Birds
Bulbs Foliage Fan Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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Henhouse
Sep 15, 2016 12:25 AM CST
I'd use a paint pen over a sharpie.. although I'm not sure what a professional sharpie is.. I've found in the past, that pencil on zinc markers lasts longer than any other type of marker (grease pen, sharpie, paint pen). The problem is that they are not easy to read with age (mine -or- the labels Hilarious! ).. I've tried the copper faced labels.. Again, although they are embossed and last, you have to get down on your hands and knees to read them, and hope you've got your reading glasses with you.

I started using the brother's P-touch labeler a few years ago and sticking them on metal markers I get from Paw Paw Everlast Co. You can get essentially the same product from Kinkaid or Lee Valley, but Paw Paw always ships very quickly. I think their prices are similar. Time will tell how well they last, but the 2 and 3 year old tags so no sign of wear yet..

Leon, You didn't say what labeling system you used, or how long you've had the labels. Your pictures show cultivars from the 80's.. If you've had them for 25 years, that's pretty impressive, really...
When counting, try not to mix chickens with blessings.
Name: Mika
Oxfordshire, England and Mento
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Critters Allowed Daylilies Irises Roses Hostas
Birds Multi-Region Gardener Cat Lover Dog Lover Ponds Foliage Fan
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cliftoncat
Sep 15, 2016 3:21 AM CST
This is all really useful - thank you, everyone. I love the look of Poly's AAA labels, but sadly the cost is too steep for me, so I'm going to look at the other options and get something shipped to DH on his next trip to the US, so he can bring it back in his suitcase and save me the customs/admin fees. I think I'll also get one of those P-touch labellers. As Leon said, it will give me a project for the winter! Any further advice really welcome. I'm all ears! Big Grin
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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grannysgarden
Sep 15, 2016 4:50 AM CST
I order the heavy duty zinc paw paw labels from everlast and use a number 2 lead pencil to write on them. A friend uses the same type of label but the stakes are stainless steel instead of zinc. So far my galvanized stakes show no discoloration and after years of use I have not had one rust or break. I have used the copper labels and they weather and darken with age. The name is permanent as it is impressed into the metal but I have to spray them with water in order to read them. I plan to phase all of the copper labels out.

As far as writing on the labels with a pencil I have had no fading and I think that the carbon will last forever. I have used temporary markers made of plastic but again the only print that really takes a beating in my garden and never has to be replaced is with a pencil.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Barbie
Northwest Florida (Zone 8b)
Garden Art Irises Vegetable Grower Keeps Horses
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QHBarbie
Sep 15, 2016 6:08 AM CST
I have tried a lot of different labeling strategies over the years. None of the markers worked out well. Other avenues were just too expensive on a larger scale. After a discussion similar to this one on a daylily group back in the spring, I decided to try the Brother P-touch system. Daylily enthusiasts reported that their Brother P-touch labels lasted for years--longer life than the metal stakes they were affixed to. So far I'm loving the labels. It is so much neater. If the metal stakes prove to be problematic (i.e. rusting apart), I may experiment with dipping them in an epoxy or a plastic coating.
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: United States of America Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Master Level Native Plants and Wildflowers Peonies Hummingbirder Dog Lover Lilies
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TBGDN
Sep 15, 2016 6:14 AM CST
Henhouse said:I started using the brother's P-touch labeler a few years ago and sticking them on metal markers I get from Paw Paw Everlast Co. You can get essentially the same product from Kinkaid or Lee Valley, but Paw Paw always ships very quickly. I think their prices are similar. Time will tell how well they last, but the 2 and 3 year old tags so no sign of wear yet..

This is something that interests me, and Paw Paw is located fairly local (Michigan?). I guess I'm looking at a fairly large project 200-300 labels. (Have other perennials too that I label)

Henhouse said:Leon, You didn't say what labeling system you used, or how long you've had the labels. Your pictures show cultivars from the 80's.. If you've had them for 25 years, that's pretty impressive, really...

I think I got my initial batch of labels on line from somewhere in Maine (about 2004). They were the 'peel & stick' kind that attach to the metal plates made at that time by EON in Ohio. Judging from the rust on some of the plates they have held up fairly well. Currently I have some 'missing' labels where I have marked with temporary markers like the one for Ramses shown in the picture below. But they don't last and are only temporary at best for 6 months. I make them from carpenter shims.

Thumb of 2016-09-15/TBGDN/dfe89a

Lux Umbra Dei
[Last edited by TBGDN - Sep 15, 2016 6:19 AM (+)]
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Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Sep 15, 2016 7:45 AM CST
I, too, use the PawPaw rose labels, with stick ons....I first used labels made on a DYMO label maker, and clear coated them with lacquer. Those showed "fading" of the printing after 3-4 years, so this year I have switched to "Brother" brand labels and machine. My iris are all marked for ID with an engraved metal tag, wired to a long nail...pushed into the ground at the base of the plant, so the "rose labels" are only to make things easier for garden visitors.
Mine are "put out" in the spring (quite a job, too, with this many cultivars Sticking tongue out ), and taken in after bloom is done( the Re's remain marked until fall, and then get 'pulled" ), as leaving them in place...year around...makes weeding, cutting fans, etc., very difficult, and, if left in place over the winter, makes the beds look too much like "cemeteries" !
[Last edited by crowrita1 - Sep 15, 2016 9:07 AM (+)]
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Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
Irises Roses Bulbs Winter Sowing Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Bee Lover
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IrisLilli
Sep 15, 2016 7:54 AM CST
Good points about the weeding etc. and the 'winter look'... I'm all ears!
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: United States of America Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Master Level Native Plants and Wildflowers Peonies Hummingbirder Dog Lover Lilies
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TBGDN
Sep 15, 2016 10:34 AM CST
crowrita1 said:..... so this year I have switched to "Brother" brand labels and machine........... so the "rose labels" are only to make things easier for garden visitors.

This would be another idea that I'm interested in. Not necessarily for garden visitors, but at least I coud do the label making with the P-touch aparatus. Don't know about moving labels for winter(?) That would likely save wear & tear on them. I know that I have some out there right now that are unidentified, but most of them I recognize and know pretty much where they are.

crowrita1 said:. Mine are "put out" in the spring (quite a job, too, with this many cultivars Sticking tongue out ), and taken in after bloom is done( the Re's remain marked until fall, and then get 'pulled" ), as leaving them in place...year around...makes weeding, cutting fans, etc., very difficult, and, if left in place over the winter, makes the beds look too much like "cemeteries" !

Seems very logical.


Lux Umbra Dei
Name: Mika
Oxfordshire, England and Mento
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Critters Allowed Daylilies Irises Roses Hostas
Birds Multi-Region Gardener Cat Lover Dog Lover Ponds Foliage Fan
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cliftoncat
Sep 15, 2016 10:47 AM CST
I definitely want labels that can stay put over winter... Blinking Too much like hard work to take them in and then put them all out again (not to mention that I would for sure put them back in the wrong place).
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier
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crawgarden
Sep 15, 2016 11:28 AM CST
Leon, are your original labels P Touch with UV resistance?
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
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Polymerous
Sep 15, 2016 12:18 PM CST
Thanks for the compliment, Leon. *Blush*

I briefly had a fling with those impressionable copper labels (on stakes), but as Sherry commented, they quickly oxidize and you can't read them unless you are right on top of them - and even then it can be problematic! (Also, the copper "label", which is really just a strip of copper bent around the posts, can and will fall off in the garden (thanks to critters or blundering humans).)

I started many years ago with the AAA engraved labels, and many/most of my long term plants have those labels. (I guess you can say that I like the "botanical garden" look. Rolling on the floor laughing )

Right now I am using the Wren labels medium term (on daylilies I know I will have at least a few years, ditto irises) with either garden marker (the garden marker writing persists undimmed for at least a couple of years on the Wren metal, better than it does on plastic labels) or the P touch labels (which I have mixed feelings about... I fear that I am coming to the conclusion that hand writing actually stands out and looks better on the Wren markers than does a stuck on printed label). The garden marker writing does eventually start to fade, but one advantage of the Wren labels (over other types of "long term" garden labels) is that (as Sherry noted) one can always write in long-lasting pencil (on the reverse side of the label). It is not really readable in the garden, BUT the duplicate pencil writing on the reverse side ensures that the plant identity is not lost if the gardener is too slow/lax to update the label.

http://www.charleysgreenhouse.com/index.cfm?page=_productdet...

I did try paint markers once or twice, because they are supposedly better than Sharpies or garden marker pens, but it was messy doing it, and the labels were an absolute mess too - it's not like writing with a Sharpie/garden marker at all, and the labels looked so very bad that I just gave up on the whole idea.

One final comment on this whole labeling business... Our desire, of course, is to have our plants all labeled in such a way that we can easily read their identities in the garden. However, that kind of labeling is basically at odds with a permanent labeling of the sort such that the identity of the plant cannot be lost, simply because such stakes/labels can be knocked over/about/carried off by critters/raked up by clueless garden workers/otherwise lost in the garden. I have read that what some people do is to tie on, or otherwise place beneath the root ball, those impressionable copper or metal tags, of the type that are sold as rose labels. There is no writing that will fade and the tag will always be there with the plant, even when/if the garden marker has been lost or is no longer readable. (After you have moved on, future garden owners can dig up the plant and discover its identity, if you want to be altruistic in your thinking about this. Hilarious! )

https://www.antiqueroseemporium.com/roses/8006/wire-on-tag-s...
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
Sep 15, 2016 12:35 PM CST
A safeguard against the loss of markers, is a dedicated garden map showing the location of each cultivar. I back that up with a system of identified locations in one of the columns of my Iris Database. Can't think of any additional safeguards beyond these already described.
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier
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crawgarden
Sep 15, 2016 12:36 PM CST
[quote="Polymerous"]Thanks for the compliment, Leon. *Blush*
Right now I am using the Wren labels medium term (on daylilies I know I will have at least a few years, ditto irises) with either garden marker (the garden marker writing persists undimmed for at least a couple of years on the Wren metal, better than it does on plastic labels) or the P touch labels (which I have mixed feelings about...
]https://www.antiqueroseemporium.com/roses/8006/wire-on-tag-s...

Curious what are your mixed feelings about on the p touch uv resistant labels, thx.

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