In parks and gardens, especially for marking commemorative trees, labels need to last for many years. Labels and plaques made of engraved metal or plastic laminate can be used to identify the plant with its correct botanical name or give details of the event or benefactor honoured. Such labels need to be placed out of reach or securely attached.
For scientists conducting trials or breeders developing new varieties, the requirement is usually for plain labels so that plot and trial number can be registered. With a variety of coloured labels available from companies such as Tyne Moulds, it is possible to introduce colour-coding into the scheme. In all cases, make sure the pen and label are compatible and waterproof.
Growers will also make use of plain labels, especially for stock plants and recording details of propagation dates, contract batches and orders for wholesale and landscape businesses.
Growers of plants for the retail market need to find a balance between expense and return.
The label needs to sell the plant, but it must also be cost-effective. Sometimes the customer will specify the type, size and detail of the label to be presented with the plant. Some will want details of the retail outlet and logo or specific branding.
Where plants are being sold direct to the public, the label can serve as point-of-sale material and should be viewed as an investment. It could make or break a sale. Retail labels need to be stylish and eye-catching to ensure the plant grabs the customer’s attention. Care must be taken over the label’s size, shape and colour.
The use of pictorial labels is widespread and most nurseries that produce plants for the retail market will have many metres of shelving holding labels ready for the point of dispatch. They are a good way to show what the plant will look like at maturity or in flower, and are especially useful for selling stock that is dormant, still in bud or yet to bear fruit.
The picture must be accurate. If customers buy a rose expecting it to have a pink flower, they will be unhappy when the buds open to reveal red petals.
Consider using themes or brands to entice customers to collect a selection of plants — but keep logos simple so they are instantly recognisable.
As well as accurately identifying the plant and its characteristics, plant labels can be a way to help the consumer get the most enjoyment out of owning the plant. That means including clear care instructions on how to maintain the plant in good health. Be careful not to overload the label with information. Too much detail can cause just as much confusion as too little.
It is also commonplace to find prices and barcodes on plant labels. In the retail situation, it is essential that the right label, and the correct price, is attached to the plant when it arrives at the till. The last thing the retailer needs is for £20 shrubs to go out at £4.99 simply because a mischievous child or dishonest customer found it easy to swap the tickets around.
It is worth looking at different methods of label fixing. Lock-in labels that fit tightly into a slot in the pot are increasingly popular. In other situations, it may be best to price and barcode products with strong adhesive labels.
Almost every nursery and garden centre now has access to a PC with word-processing and page-design facilities, and many are investing in systems to design and print their own labels. Banners, bed cards and many styles of label, from self adhesive and stick-ins to swinging labels, can be produced in-house. All that is needed is the software and a printer, plus suitable labels.
Greenfield Software, the Cambridgeshire-based label program and Oki printer supplier, has begun distributing Floralabels. These are made of a material described as waterproof, soft and flexible, tear-resistant, easy to separate and exhibiting resistance to UV radiation, abrasion, cold conditions and chemicals. Self-tie and swing ticket styles are printable on both sides.
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