I am notoriously bad at labeling plants in my garden, mostly because I know what they generally are (though it would be good to tag those "special" varieties).
Despite this shortcoming of mine, I like making inexpensive, attractive (at least to me) lasting homemade garden tags and give them away for fun.
These tags take very minimal cost and effort and as I don't drink beer or soda in cans much at all, I sort of borrow from my neighbors' recycling... um, no one's had an issue yet?
ALUMINUM BEER/SODA CAN TAGS: (use gloves if you are worried you'll cut yourself):
-scissors (decorative edge ones if you like)
-jumbo smooth metal paperclips
-pushpin/thumb tac with pointy metal tip (optional)
-ball point pen (for permanent marking)
-permanent marker (for changeable marking, but can come off in certain weather conditions)
-paint pen (for more durable changeable marking)
(please don't judge me for the Budweiser... we were desperate!)
(1) Clean out a can and dry it as thoroughly as possible
(2) on the top and bottom of can, cut around the rims, just underneath the angled edges so that it will be a completely open tube
(3) With the scissors, cut from one open end to the other to make a single sheet of metal
(4) Trim the sheet of metal edges with a straight edge pair of scissors or the decorative ones. To make label shape cutting more manageable, use the straight edge of a counter or table and rub the curved back of the ex-can back and forth against the edge to flatten the metal sheet
(5) Cut the metal sheet with scissors into desired tag shapes (squares, rectangles, hearts, birds, leaves, etc.) keeping the edges as smooth as possible
(6) Take a paperclip and using the pushpin if you like, do one or all of the various posting options:
1 hole/2 holes (more paper clip posts, more sturdy)
(Note to make the holes in the metal with the pushpin, you'll want some thick corrugated cardboard or a cork backing to push into so you don't form holes in your table/counter).
Or SWIRLY (may need some pliers to do this)
(7) Use you writing utensil of choice and write your plant name down and you're done!
(You can sandpaper the back painted part of the can to make it all shiny metal, but I think the color addition and showing off that it's recycled is cool)
These tags do fine indoors or out, and obviously you can "upgrade" your materials, but if you really want to do it on the cheap, this is the way to go.
The paperclip stakes can be interchanged with various materials, like wire coat hangers or even sticks (it's bio-degradable!) but I like paperclips.