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Make Aluminum Plant Tags from Old Cans

Updated on December 28, 2015
diy metal garden tags
diy metal garden tags

Every gardener loves plants, especially new and exciting ones. The trouble is keeping track of all these variations and varieties. Garden tags are an absolute necessity! The problem of labeling and identifying new plants struck me recently after attending the local Middle Tennessee Iris Society's annual sale (I know--I died and went to iris heaven!) Thirty minutes and $30 later, I had a paper bag filled with nine gorgeous hybrids boasting exotic names like Indian Chief, Feu du Ceil and Afternoon Delight. I also came home with eight unknown varieties that I will attempt to classify after they bloom.

Irises, in particular, are difficult to identify because they look nearly the same when they aren't blooming, which is like 11 months out of the year. Ever organized, the society's members wrote the names and plant info on paper tags or directly on the leaves in Sharpes, but those labels weren't going to last.

As all gardeners know, labels fade, crack and simply vanish with the wind. But this wasn't going to get me down. I'm familiar with the permanent aluminum tags that identify my collection of plumeria trees, but I didn't feel like spending more money and waiting for the tags to arrive. Plus, those tags are meant to be hung from something, not stuck in the ground, which I need for my application.

So, here's the solution: DIY aluminum plant tags made from your discarded soda or beer cans! Read on and I'll show you how to make them too.

If people can make airplane whirligigs from old cans, you can totally make these simple, durable garden tags.

P.S. Each can will make approximately 5 garden tags.

Time required: 1 Hour

Difficulty: easy

Cost: Less than $5


  • Used aluminum beverage cans (tall 16 oz size if preferable)
  • Strips of corrugated cardboard measuring 1/2 inch wide and 4 inches long
  • One piece of cardboard to use as a cutting surface


  • A utility knife
  • Ball point pen
  • Tin snips (optional)
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Pliers (optional)

A Essential Tool

Stanley 10-779 Dynagrip Retractable Utility Knife
Stanley 10-779 Dynagrip Retractable Utility Knife

A utility knife is essential for this project and so many other crafty endeavors! Arm yourself with great tools like this o ensure total satisfaction and success!

Remove the top and bottom
Remove the top and bottom


1. Start by removing the top and bottom of the aluminum can. Simply insert the knife and guide it around the circle. Repeat the process on the other end.

Cut along the side and flatten
Cut along the side and flatten

2. Next, open the tube-shaped body of the can by making one straight cut down the side.

Make a fold the desired width
Make a fold the desired width

3. Fold one edge of the can in by 3/4ths of an inch.

Make a cut at least 1/4 inch beyond the folded edge.
Make a cut at least 1/4 inch beyond the folded edge.

4. Make a cut about 1/4 of an inch from the folded edge, so your strip looks like this.

5. Cut the end to create an angled point, so the strip can be pushed into the ground. Make the cut so the folded edge becomes the tip. If you can't cut all the way through with the utility knife, fold along the cut line to remove the triangle piece.

6. Prepare your cardboard strip. This allows you to make an impression on the metal more easily, and you also get to write on both sides of the label if desired. Woot!

7. Push the cardboard strip into the folded metal.

8. Then, wrap the overhanging edge around to enclose the cardboard. You can fold this toward you and press down, or you can push the overhang against the cardboard cutting surface. Whatever works best for you. If you like, you can accentuate the crimp by pressing with needle nose pliers.

9. Now you get to write your plant names on the tags! You can even make cute designs! I'm left-handed, so I always goof up the direction of the text, but I know you won't have that problem!

10. Finally, insert your new tags next to the plant as a permanent reminder of what is really growing there! Ta-da!

Bosmere K444 Small-Faced Copper Plate Metal Plant Marker, 10-Inch High (Pack of 20)
Bosmere K444 Small-Faced Copper Plate Metal Plant Marker, 10-Inch High (Pack of 20)

If you've like to mark irises, herbs and plants that grow close to the ground, these stakes are the perfect solution!


What are your strategies for keeping track of your herbs, flowers and garden plants! Feel free to share them here! I know we'd all love to hear them!

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    • QuiltFinger profile image

      QuiltFinger 2 years ago from Tennessee

      Excellent! Always glad to help and share ideas! Good luck with your garden!

    • QuiltFinger profile image

      QuiltFinger 2 years ago from Tennessee

      You're so welcome! It can really get confusing when you're growing lots of plants or seeds. I get a bunch of surprises every year!

    • QuiltFinger profile image

      QuiltFinger 2 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you so much for your comment! I need to make more of these myself! A gardener can't have too many labels.

    • QuiltFinger profile image

      QuiltFinger 2 years ago from Tennessee

      You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Wonderful idea! Thanks!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Awesome upcycling! What a great idea and nice step by step pics. Thanks to the Dirt Farmer for sharing!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Thanks so much for sharing this garden necessity. I rarely remember the names of my plants. Such a creative and super idea! Lots of votes and sharing.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 2 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Voted up awesome and useful, good timing too! I'm trying a more random garden technique this year, as opposed to rows, and was looking for an inexpensive/effective labeling system, thanks for this, I love it!


    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      Great idea with readily accessible materials.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      What a neat idea!!!

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      Great Idea! Sharing over on the Weekend Gardeners FB page.......

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Very cleaver. And I love that it is recycling.

    • profile image

      ColettaTeske 3 years ago

      Cool way to save money. Metal plant signs are expensive, especially the ones that have the "padding" inside. Thank you, QuiltFinger, for the tip!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      This is really sweet! I never would have thought of this and it's so adorable, functional, frugal just all around cool.