The Importance of Redundant Plant ID Tags

The Importance of Redundant Plant ID Tags

See the video at the bottom.

Oil-based paint markers make effective tree IDs.

After sharing this post on the OurFigs forum, I was reminded by Johnson1 how well oil-based paint markers work on tree trunks. This works best on somewhat larger trees. I only write the variety name with the oil pens, but I guess it’s possible to add the source and other info.

And Yatama suggested: Obtain one bag of concrete mix and bags of styrofoam cereal bowls. Mix concrete in a bucket and fill bowls with a trowel.smooth it over with a piece of board let set til surface has little water rising to surface, then smooth it off with a flat long knife an let it set and get semi hard. Engrave data on surface with point of a large 20D nail. spray or pour some oil like salad oil on surface so will not dry while curing or cover with saran wrap. lay finished product at base of the plant. The foam bowl can be left on or reused to make more markers. These markers will outlive the person who made them. each costs only a few pennies.

Yatama also suggested: Prepare a simple chart of the land (yard, garden, orchard etc.) showing locations of all trees with variety and date planted, keep this in a secure place with other important documents.

Personally, I find my property too convoluted to map out. Instead, I’ve stored the GPS locations of my trees in my iPhone. I’m still experimenting with different applications to find which seems to work best.

Stela G also had a great idea: I really like the last example. Take some nail polish and brush over the engraving then wipe off the excess, It will fill in the engraving and make it stand out alot more.

Danny Gentile with made an awesome suggestion. In place of the plastic wrap-around tree tags I demonstrated in the video, he recommends the vinyl version. Though much more expensive, they are much more durable.

In the introduction I mentioned Gabe Brown. He has been a tremendous influence in my approach to gardening. You may find one of his books helpful, Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture.

Here are the links to the items I mentioned in the video:

Here’s my Amazon review of the Brother P-Touch:


  • OEM label tape is supposedly very long lasting, even in sunlight, but haven’t used them long enough to verify. (Update: After a year of weathering, the labels have held up well outdoors).
  • Clean design
  • Bluetooth connectivity


  • No desktop software available that I could find – only IOS and other handhelds
  • The bluetooth connection must be manually enabled with each use – it will not auto-connect
  • About an inch of tape is wasted with every print – then must be cut off with scissors
  • There is no option to automatically print the correct length of tape for the text. It must be manually selected.
  • The display is NOT WYSIWIG in regards to length. What you see on the screen has no relation to what is printed, so manually setting the tape length is largely a guessing game. Guess too short, and you have to reprint with a longer setting. Guess too long and you just waste tape.

I continue to use it because the labels are supposed to be UV protected and I’ve already purchased a bunch of label cartridges, but I would NOT recommend this printer at all.

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