How To Make Permanent Plant Tags out of Recycled Plastic, Aluminum & Copper

We have lots of citrus trees in the garden, but until they produce fruits, they will be just that - citrus trees - because I have no clue what type they are, since most of my plant tags never held up. I've tried many different plant tags from chalk signs to plastic and the infamous popsicle stick. All failed the test of time, but when I started selling plants, I had to come up with some way to identify the plants and trees to make it easier for the customers. I wanted something that would last at least 6 months, could stand up against the weather, and I began looking for plastic plant tags. I had a hard time finding affordable, recycled plastic plant tags, so I decided to create my own. 

metal plant tags

We've also begun a complete revamp of our front garden, which means more plants, and we've got lots of plants and trees growing for our future garden at The Land. For these plants, I wanted permanent plant labels that could contain both the common name and the Latin name, and I found these neat aluminum plant labels and copper plant tags on Amazon. They were the perfect solution, but since I needed a lot, they were simply out of my budget. What I really like about these plant tags is the fact that they are in one piece, which means less chance of breaking, as some of the other metal stake plant tags might.

I came up with two different solutions, semi-permanent but recycled, free plant tags for the plants we sell at our plant sales, and a permanent plant label solution for the plants in our garden and the trees for The Land.

milk jug plant labels

How To Make Recycled Plastic Plant Tags

Many of our plant containers are made out of old milk jugs, and instead of discarding the tops, we've started making recycled plastic plant tags. These plant labels will take some rain and fading, but the writing will not last forever. They work well for the purpose of identifying individual plants for our customers, and I love the fact that they are made out of recycled milk jugs, recycled orange juice and lemonade containers.

plastic plant tags

What You Need:

  • Used milk jugs or orange juice jugs made of food-grade, non-clear plastic materials.
  • Scissors
  • A permanent marker


aluminum plant tags

How To Make Aluminum Plant Tags 

For our plants and trees in the garden, we wanted to create a product that was affordable, but permanent and pleasing to the eye. We bought a roll of aluminum flashing, a pair of metal cutters, and then we purchased a metal-stamping set. 

The out-of-pocket cost was just about $50, but I can use the metal stamping set for other engraving projects, and there is plenty of aluminum to make plant tags for all of our perennial plants and fruit trees.

metal stamping set

What You Need:

  • A roll of aluminum flashing (found in the roofing aisle for about $8) or aluminum cans
  • A pair of metal-cutting scissors (Buy in store or on Amazon)
  • A metal-stamping set (1/4 )
  • A hammer or mallet
  • A hard surface to work on
  • A homemade jig to stamp your words straight
using a metal stamping set to make plant labels

I considered using the inside of aluminum cans to make my plant signs, but in the end I decided that it would be less time consuming and hazardous to use the aluminum flashing instead. But if you want to be more environmentally friendly, using aluminum cans is definitely the way to go.

Use the metal-cutting scissors to cut a 4 inch piece of your aluminum flashing or cut a piece of your aluminum can. Then bend it in half, and cut a line across, so that you get two pieces out of this 4 inch piece. Then create your sign in whatever shape you want. I've tried to come up with a shape that has rounded corners, but which minimize waste and maximize the writing area. It's important that you have a hard surface to work on, which will not get damaged by the hammering or move when you hit the stamp. We first tried the 1/8 metal stamping letters, but they were simply too small, and you had to squint your eyes to read the plant tag. We exchanged this set for a 1/4 metal stamping set, and this works great. It is small enough for us to get both the common and botanical plant names on our sign, but the letters are still big and clear enough to read even without having to bend down to read it. 

We also created a very simple jig in order to keep our stamped letters level. It is simply two pieces of wood put together by a screw, so that it can move, and it serves as a guide for our stamping. We also added a clamp at the end, so that the metal piece would not move.

We can highly recommend our metal stamping set, it actually surpassed our expectations and after making 20+ plant tags it is still working great.

How To Make Copper Plant Tags

If you like the look of copper, you can use the stamping set on copper as well. Copper flashing is a lot pricier than aluminum flashing, and over time copper will get a patina, which some will love and some won't. Our store did not have the copper in stock, so I decided to go with the aluminum even though I love the look of the copper plant tags. 

  • A roll of copper flashing (found in the roofing aisle or ordered online)
  • A pair of metal-cutting scissors
  • A metal-stamping set 
  • A hammer or mallet
  • A hard surface to work on
  • A homemade jig to stamp your words straight


You can find the aluminum and copper flashing at your local hardware store or places that sell roofing materials, or you can buy it online in places such as Amazon.


If you don't want to make your own metal plant tags, you can buy these metal plant tags and copper plant tags on Amazon. Out of the many plant tags available, these are our favorite because they are in one piece and have great reviews.






Disclaimer: This post contain affiliate links. 


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