Reusing Plastic Plant Labels

With the 2023 chilli growing season just around the corner I was sorting through my chilli growing equipment earlier and noticed that the ink on some of my plastic plant labels had faded. After renumbering them I decided to write a quick blog post to show you a way in which you can reuse plastic plant labels. Rather than writing the name of each variety onto the labels I number the labels and then assign a number to each variety instead. This allows me to reuse the same plastic plant labels each season. You can either write the number on the labels with a sharpie pen or just place a sticker onto the label and write the number on the sticker instead. I've been using the orange coloured plant labels shown in the photo below for four years now. The red and yellow coloured labels were added recently. I wanted more colours so that I can colour code each variety based on its heat level.

At the end of each growing season, all I do is give the labels a wash and then store them away until the following year. Occasionally, I need to rewrite the numbers because the ink has started to fade, but this only takes a couple of minutes to do. Yeah, I know that plastic plant labels are cheap enough to buy (if you shop at the right places), but why bother buying new ones each year when you can just reuse the old ones? Not only that, but given the issue we have today with plastics in the environment, the less plastic we throw away the better!

Numbered Plastic Plant Labels
Numbered Plastic Plant Labels

Based on the amount of chilli plants I grow each season, I number the labels up to number 26 and assign the same number to four labels because I rarely ever grow more than three or four plants of the same variety. Normally, I just grow one plant of each variety, but sometimes I may grow more, depending on the variety. I then keep a list of all varieties and the number that's been assigned to each one. Obviously, this step is very important so I can identify each variety. In the past, some people have also recommended using lollypop sticks which can then be thrown into the compost pile at the end of the season. However, having tried using lollypop sticks I found that they turned mouldy very quickly, and therefore I don't recommend using them.

Purchasing plastic plant labels from garden centres can sometimes work out expensive. The last time I checked (about four years ago), a garden centre local to me (a local-haunt for snobs) was charging £10 for 20 plastic plant labels and a small pencil. You'd have to be mad to pay that! I've found that the best place to purchase plant labels is on eBay. Not only are they cheaper and you get more for your money, but you have a choice of different colours too. In previous years, before I started numbering and reusing my plastic plant labels, purchasing new ones would often times be a last minute thing and then I'd have to wait several days for them to arrive in the post before I could sow the chilli seeds. I don't have that problem anymore...