How to Remember What You’ve Planted

Jul 21, 2016 | Gardens

I’ve had several queries by email recently from gardeners who have forgotten what they planted. Some of these are from people who are new to veggie gardening so they don’t recognize what’s growing as it matures. Others either have recently placed something in their garden and lost the tag, or have forgotten over the years what the perennial or shrub that’s been growing in their garden is called.

In the old days people kept journals. They would write down what they planted and which varieties did especially well. Occasionally they made notes about the weather or when the first hummingbird returned to the garden. Some of these journals were even so beautiful that they remain works of art.

For most, those written journal days are gone. That doesn’t mean that keeping a record of what you’ve planted has also disappeared. Let me suggest that the new garden journal can be found in your hand, pocket, or purse right now. It’s your phone.

When you bring a plant home, take a photo of the plant with the tag in front of some of the leaves. That way, if you forget what you’ve put in the ground you can compare what’s growing to your pictures.

If the tags get lost you can take your phone out to the garden and compare the foliage you see growing with your photo library. "The tag says lemon verbena and yes, it does smell like lemons!"

If the tags get lost you can take your phone out to the garden and compare the foliage you see growing with your photo library. “The tag says lemon verbena and yes, it does smell like lemons!”


This record keeping is also good for remembering plants that did well. You don’t have to hang onto the tag…just take your phone into the garden center when you go shopping next season, and you’ll have a record of what you planted the year before.

Remembering what you plant

When potting up container plants you can tuck the label down into the side of the pot. These sometimes get lost, however, or dumped into the compost at the end of the season. So a photo record is a good way to remember what you’re growing now, and what you grew in the past.

You say like keeping a written journal? By all means, keep at it. But if you’re not the write-it-down-and-keep-it-all-in-one-place type, take a picture.


  1. Mary Kay Condon

    Great idea CL!

    • CL Fornari

      Good plan, Cathy!

  2. Cathy Cardamone

    When I am planting a mixture of flowers, I keep all the tags in the same place in the pot. It has really helped me remember what I bought since I’m not that knowledgeable about flowering plants.


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