Garden plant markers from wire shirt hangers


My local dry-cleaning establishment will not reuse these white metal shirt hangers.  I also can’t put “loose wire” into my curbside recycling bin.  Thus, it is up to me to find something to do with 5 to 10 hangers each month.


Today I’m making garden tags…little placards in case I don’t remember the difference between tomatoes and broccoli.  HA!  Open the hangers by untwisting the top or cutting the top off completely.  Then start bending.  The ones I have bend easily by hand.


Bend the wire into a shape a bit like the one above and snip off the extra from the end.


Poke holes through a piece of card stock (in this case a bit of packaging board reused) and attach the card to the top of the garden marker.  I used a bunch of teeny tiny zip ties because I’ve had them for several years and never found a teeny tiny use for them until now.


As you can see on the right side of this photo, my 7-year-old made one as well!  Total cost for this project was materials on hand plus $0.00.  Make two plant tags from each wire hanger.

P.S. It occurred to me after I took this series of photos that I could just fold the paper over the same length as the front and have a full, writeable back too.  DOH!  Two sided version below….


17 responses to this post.

  1. Cool–Love it!! However I fear that cardboard isn’t going to last long in a muddy garden environment. How about using cut-up gallon plastic milk jugs instead of cardboard for the signage part?

  2. I’m fully expecting these to last one full season (6 months outdoors from April to October), but your idea is a good one and would help these look nicer towards the end. I still have paper seed envelopes that have been outside since last April and have now been through severals snows and ice covering that are recognizable, so this thicker card stock should be OK. Time will tell. The whole thing will likely be too rusty to reuse for a second year anyway, so I won’t try to get two seasons from these.

  3. This is a cool idea! They look great.

  4. Posted by gardengeekette on February 18, 2009 at 9:23 am

    what a great idea to combine two of my favorite things– gardening and crafts! 🙂

  5. Genius! I wonder if there is anything that would last longer than the paper in our wet Seattle weather… maybe waxy paper from a milk carton or something…

  6. Yeah, that might last longer, but I wonder if even a grease pencil would write on it. I save my son’s half-gallon milk cartons to grow tomato seedlings in. I found last year that the deeper the container, the better for tomatoes.

  7. Ooh, I really like that idea! I must remember this for when it’s time to plant new flowers and plants in our garden. Thank you!

  8. Ingenious! This should save a few bucks come outdoor garden time.

  9. Posted by agape7 on February 20, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Good idea!

  10. Great idea and lovely pics, but you still haven’t solved the problem of how to get rid of hangers – just moved it forward in time.
    Can you stop dry cleaning? Find out if they can be bulk recycled as metal waste?

    • Ahh, but if I stop dry-cleaning, I’ll possibly consume a box store product to mark my plants and rows. Plus, the rusting that will inevitably happen to these white metal hangers (at least the part underground) in the garden will speed the metal’s return to the earth after I send it to the landfill. At any rate, going forward from here, it’s hard to argue with you…you make very good points. I would not suggest dry-cleaning just so you can make these. But at present there are 20 hangers in my house and I’ll try this for a year. I have a suspicion that many folks are in the same boat as me…a big wad of old metal hangers and nothing to do with them.


    “A Blog Called Fuggles” has linked to this page. They also suggest several other types of plant markers, and some other recycled materials that would last longer than the white card stock I’ve used here. Particularly aluminum venetian mini-blind slats. Brilliant!!

  12. I especially liked your kid-made one!

  13. Terribly clever. And now that you have your (reusable) wire forms, why don’t you ask the laundry to fold your shirts instead of hanging them? They’ll come in a (compostable) paper wrapper. Very Cary Grant.

  14. Oh, well, aren’t YOU clever? I’ve had a bunch of wire hangers I’ve been trying to get rid of for AGES. I also hate the face that the wax coated cardbord for freezer packaging isn’t recyclable…what a great use for both! Thanks, JCC!

  15. Posted by Terry on January 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Just a word of experience. Sharpie marker writing will disappear in sunlight very quickly. I learned this the hard way using it to label all the seedlings in the school garden greenhouse one year – we had ‘mystery brassica’ seedlings that winter since all the labels faded out before we got the seedlings in the ground. Special garden markers, or CrayPas oil pastels will hold up in sunlight.

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