I have always been devising new ways to make plant tags from cheaply available or recycled materials. The Singapore Botanic Gardens uses professional-looking plant tags that are made from metal. The text is engraved onto a metal plate that is bolted at an angle onto another which acts as a stem. These are quite expensive to make and something that not all community gardeners or home gardeners are willing to spend to have them.
For a long time, I have been thinking of how we can actually make such a plant tag that is tolerant of the elements without having to spend too much money. An idea struck me whilst I was taking a bus on my journey home from the NUS campus. There was nothing around me that triggered it, it just came into my head.
Below is a picture showing an example of a home-made plant tag which I have developed from the initial idea to look like those that we see in the Singapore Botanic Gardens – ideal for the plants in the Zingiberales-themed community garden.
Below are the steps that you can follow to make some similar plant tags yourself! There are only a few materials you need to get, which include a plastic corrugated board (available from stationary shops), a water-resistant marker and several disposable forks. Cutting tools like a pair of scissors and a sharp penknife would also be required.
First, cut away the two sidemost prongs of the fork. I had to do this because the side ones are a little too thick for inserting into the gaps between the corrugated board. You can opt to use metal forks where the prongs are all slimmer and more uniform in size. Metal forks will also last longer and not liable to break after prolonged exposure to direct sunshine. But of course, plastic disposable forks are cheaper to buy and use. You can even pick up and wash those that have been thrown away after a buffet meal. Do our part to save the environment!
Depending on the size of the plate that you require, cut one of an appropriate size from the larger plastic corrugated board by using a penknife. There are these lines that run along the corrugated board and make sure that they run vertically down along the length of your plant tag’s plate. Below is a completed tag and you can see how the lines on the corrugated board are aligned.
Use the water-resistant marker to write whatever text and words on it. You can try other methods also, like printing the words onto a sticker which can then be stuck onto the plate. You can even paint pictures on it! Let your creative juices flow! For mine, I have just put on the botanical and common names of the plant as well as the family the plant belongs to.
Why must the lines run vertical along the length of the corrugated board plate? The reason’s simple – a space is created between any two lines in the board and these are the spaces where the prongs of the fork can be inserted and secured! See the picture below:
Because the prongs of the fork are most of the time made to turn at an angle, the plate that is secured at the pronged end of the fork will be angled as well! To secure the fork onto the plate, one can try to apply some glue to stick the two pieces together.
When the tag is completed, it can be put into the ground. If you are using plastic disposable forks, it may be a good idea to make a hole in the ground by using a screwdriver and then slipping the plant tag’s stem into the hole. The stem made from rather fragile plastic is not able to penetrate hardened ground!