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Ah! the humble label! But when you think about it there's a little more to it than just recording the orchid's name. But let's get that right first.
Make sure all your plants are labelled. Unnamed plants don't help you too much in getting the growing conditions right, or when it comes to breeding, showing or selling your plants. If you do have some unknown plants, make an effort to identify them when in flower, and label them immediately.

Always use a chinagraph pencil. Any type of marker will fade. Always re-write the label for newly purchased plants. You could write a second small label and bury it in the bottom of the pot. You don't know what it has been written with, and you could end up with a blank label before you know it. Write from the top of the label towards the point. Some labels have a right and wrong side. The right side is porous and the wrong side is shinier, and doesn't take the pencil as well. You can rub some steel wool on it take the shine of it to use it as your "B" side. You can also use steel wool to erase the names and use labels again.
Also replace any faded or broken labels as soon as you notice them. They have a habit of becoming lost, so regular checks of your shade house should find any that have fallen to the depths of the shadehouse floor, before they get sucked into the bottomless pit!

Check the spelling is correct from your reference sources. Don't presume the person you bought it from has it correct. Orchidwiz is the easiest if you have it. Otherwise google may give you a result. You may find a new registered name. You can record the cross on the back of the label if you wish. You also need to keep up to date with genera name changes, so you can alter your labels when necessary.

Please print legibly! You may be able to read it, but others may not. This will assist us in recording the plant names in our monthly club competitions and Show correctly, where sometimes we have to take a guess! Where possible follow the nomenclature rules for upper/lower case.

There are many types of labels, small, large, white and colored, with and without holes and T labels. Use the small ones for seedlings and shallow pots, larger for bigger pots. The coloured labels now available are very useful for easy identification of plants available for sale, seedlings, coding for species or hybrids, according to potting medium or to indicate resting plants. You may think of another use.

Labels with holes are needed for attaching to mounted plants. Also plants in shallow containers such as bulbophyllums should have their labels attached to the base of the plant.

The T labels are more expensive, but being able to record the information horizontally, makes much more sense, doesn't it? It avoids accidents to the growers' and observers' life and limbs as they twist their necks at 90% angles to read it! Particularly useful when displaying plants at shows, so the public can read it without attempting to remove the label and possibly damage the plant.

Some growers attach a laminated photo to the plant. This helps you find a particular plant quickly, and very useful when selling a plant.

On the back of the label you can record other data such as repotting date, purchase date/place, flowering color and date, type of mix, orientation, growing conditions e.g.- rest, dry, wet, etc. You can devise your own use.

Lastly place your plants on the bench with the label out for easy sight reference.

So, with a little more thought, you can make your labels work for you!

Regina Chandler


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