Gardeners: Mark Your Plants

March 31, 2016

We’ve all done this… headed out into the garden to plant something new and lovely… and when we start digging we discover there’s already something growing there. How silly does that make you feel? To forget that you’d been here already, maybe only a year ago, planting something new and lovely? A bit of an April Fool? Well here are three tips to stop it happening again next year…


colorful foliage plants

It’s easy to spot these glorious Tropicanna and Tropicanna Gold cannas in mid summer, but when the poplars in the background have lost their leaves it might be a different story.

1.  X MARKS THE SPOT: Plants can be a bit like buried treasure, especially if they are the type of perennial that lies low for part of its growing cycle. If you grow perennials like daylilies, Volcano Phlox or Tropicanna Canna, it’s easy to loose track of where they are planted. This is because, in most gardening zones, during the colder months of the year, these get trimmed back or even die back almost like a form of hibernation. No wonder it’s so easy to wander out in spring to dig a fresh hole only to find it’s already occupied. So do what the pirates do – mark the spot. You can use fancy metal markers bought from the garden center and engrave the names of your perennials onto them, or make something yourself. Wooden kitchen skewers are good as long as you use a permanent marker to avoid the letters smudging in the rain. The only really important thing is to label things accurately and the best time to do that is not winter when you might be guessing, but in mid summer when the garden bed is in full glorious color.


mildew resistent phlox

The magnificent Volcano Phlox: marking its position through winter is a good way to keep track of exactly what’s growing where.


tracking garden plantings

Add a garden calendar to your desktop as an easy reminder.

2. DATA ENTRY: If you spend as much time as most people do these days in from of your computer screen, then this tip is for you. Start by adding a new gardening calendar to your desktop calendar. Then each time you come inside from planting something in the garden, mark it in the calendar noting what it was and where you put it. It’s a good idea to map out our garden in your head and give each area a number or a name – a bit like tables in a bistro. Then when you are about to head out to plant something new you can run a quick check. Just type the location of where you’re planning to plant into the calendar search and up will pop all the previous things that you’d planted there.



3. KEEP YOUR LABELS: This is a simple approach. Each time you plant something, keep the label. Some highly gifted people – the sort who can remember the sequence of every card in a deck – simply pop these in a shoebox. Just lifting the lid gives them an instant picture of where each plant was planted, and the labels are always on hand if they need to plant more of exactly the same variety. For the rest of us, it’s not a bad idea to make a rough plan of the garden on a sheet of project card and stick it up on the back of the laundry door. Then each time you plant something, you come in, pick up a pencil and write the name of what you’ve just planted onto the plan before popping the label into your shoe-box. Months later, when you’re about to head out to plant something new, a quick look at the back of the laundry door will give you a good idea of where the vacancies are.

Plant labels

Keeping your labels helps you identify exactly what perennial or rose variety you planted – like this Flower Carpet Scarlet

4. OR SIMPLY: If all of the above seems like it’s a bit of an over kill, then wing it. Wander through your garden, pick a spot, and if it’s taken, just shuffle along until you find somewhere that suits the plant you’re holding that’s vacant.

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