Improve business with the right resources By Heather Machovina

Tags, labels and signs for your plants can be an important aspect of doing business — playing different roles for growers, breeders, retailers and consumers.

Growers often use tags to identify products throughout the production cycle, says Gerry Georgio, creative director at MasterTag. They provide information for their customers such as price, barcodes and branding. In addition, they are often required by retailers to be used on all products shipped to them, he says.

Terra Nova Nurseries uses tags for several purposes in their growing operation, including to identify plant characteristics not evident at the time of purchase like flower or foliage features, cultural information for the end consumer and showing plant protection status (patent information) to protect them from unlawful propagation in-house, as required by law, says Chuck Pavlich, director of new product development.

A breeder will use labels and tags for proprietary information on their genetics, like patent numbers, propagation prohibition notices, branding and indicating a royalty paid, Georgio says.

Retailers benefit from tags and labels because they will offer information, branding and design that differentiates products, or provides important information to help shoppers make decisions on their own, he says.

Information is key and consumers crave it to make decisions more than ever, says Mike Howden, sales development at Macore. This is particularly true as a new generation with relatively little exposure to yards and gardens are looking for confidence that they can succeed. “If a garden center plant tag has well-organized data, reads clearly and covers key data points, then gardeners will be more likely to say ‘yes,’” he says.

Consumers probably value plant tags the most, as they are often used to provide direction, inspiration and confidence. “Further, most people keep their tags for future reference,” says Georgio. “A retailer knows this and will not accept plants without a tag or label; so, in many ways, tags and labels are an important component to selling plants.”


Printed tags with plant information are the first salesperson, Howden says. It’s the first impression a customer will have about how that plant might appear in their garden, answering questions related to sun exposure, watering, the bloom or foliage color, and size. “It’s a moment like that when an attractive tag that is professionally laid out is a great partner with the skilled staff and quality plant a grower is providing to their retail clients,” he says. “You’re helping garden centers further their success with their customers.”

From a retail perspective, tags can help increase sales. “Effective tags can draw consumers to dormant plants, acting as a ‘silent salesman’ to help retail outlets sell more products and increase their sales,” Pavlich says. “Retail customers often look for tags to learn about plant habits, care and conditions, giving them more confidence in buying the best product for the right location.” Labeling can also increase repeat business because when consumers find the information they need on a product they love, they’re more likely to search for that product again.

Terra Nova’s tags show customers plant characteristics that may not be present at the time of purchase.


“With our increased knowledge of the preferences of the garden center shopper, we have been able to design tags around their needs,” Georgio says. “This has resulted in several new tag offerings that answer the most important questions at the point of sale and at home; particularly in the houseplant and perennial segments.”

A well-designed tag — one designed based on consumer preferences, research, can anticipate questions and answer them without assistance from a retailer’s staff — can increase sales and profits, Georgio says. This is particularly important at a busy retail store when someone isn’t always available to answer questions.

“Growers should consider investing in more labels, tags and signs for their plant products because they optimize consumer convenience, support lawful compliance for plant breeders and free up retail salespeople,” Pavlich says.

Larger surface areas allow for more details.


Tags and labels have been an accessory on potted plants for years. Trial and error with layouts and types has taught tag manufacturers better methods for designing more consumer-friendly options and how to develop around the needs of growers.

Tags have remained fundamentally the same in their overall shape and ability to provide care instructions, Georgio says. But their design and purpose have changed significantly over the years. In the past four years, Macore has expanded its use of hanging potlocks. Hanging potlocks are a recent type of strategy that grew out of the standing potlocks. The “arrow tails,” at the right width of a hanging potlock, can make it difficult for consumers to remove them. There are many types of tags that have been inserted down into a slit on the pot rim; however, they’re easily removed by consumers and not easily reinserted. Hanging potlock tags are not easy to take off, so most remain on pots to benefit all consumers.

“They bend up by hand to be easily read on both sides and provide a unique opportunity to get the most mileage from all the surface on both sides, since no part will be in the soil,” Howden says.

MasterTag has noticed many large growers turning to adhesive labels to mitigate labor shortages and costs, along with driving efficiency into their process to fend off rising prices of inputs, Georgio says. “This is a trend within the mass retailer segment that has generated a new labeling product that works alongside the traditional stake or hang tag,” he says. For a grower who needs this kind of labeling, there are many choices for shapes, designs, optional volume requirements and equipment to apply them.

Today, tags and labels fall into three basic categories, Georgio says. Those specified by mass merchant retailers; custom designs used by independent retailers and small chains; and stock tags sold in a wide spectrum of design and content that are easy to purchase by most growers and retailers.

New materials have provided the industry with longer lasting and better performing tags, and sustainable tags and labels are emerging in some market segments, Georgio says. These materials can be recycled or are recyclable options made from materials that contain varying amounts of recycled or easy-to-recycle plastics.

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