DIY Plant Markers from Vintage Shoe Trees

DIY Plant Markers from Vintage Shoe Trees

After successfully sowing herb seeds in thrifted muffin tins and then transplanting the seedlings into larger pots displayed on a vertical shower caddy, I’m wrapping up my three-part Upcycled Herb Garden series today! And what, pray tell, could my third part be about? Well, I’m upcycling some vintage shoe trees into DIY plant markers!

You see, I started collecting some vintage shoe trees on my junkin’ journey to Richmond, VA. At the time, I simply thought they looked interesting and perfect for an upcycling project.

I just didn’t know what that project was at the time!

Wooden shoe tree at an antiques store for upcycling as plant markers

But then my good friend, Pink Dogwood Jewelry, also gifted me some vintage shoe stretchers a while ago. She asked if I could do anything with them, and that’s when it hit me.

The fat end of each wooden shoe stretcher looked just like a toadstool mushroom! 

Antique shoe stretcher for repurposing as herb garden markers

That’s when I decided to create some  plant markers from the wooden shoe trees! And believe it or not, THIS is the project that inspired the three-part series; I just had to work backwards first before putting it all together.

Now, I certainly don’t *need* to label my herbs- I know which one is which. But there’s just something fun about making little signs for your herb (or vegetable) garden…and the shoe trees seemed awfully perfect for it.

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Transforming the Vintage Shoe Trees

First, I needed to cut off the blunt wooden end of each wooden shoe stretcher so that it could be plunged in potting soil. After considering my options, I ended up using bolt cutters to do the deed.

Cutting off the ends of a wooden shoe stretcher for spray painting

Next, it was time to spray paint the antique shoe stretchers. I taped off a good portion of each one before painting. 

I don’t actually know if spray paint can leach into soils, but better safe than sorry, right? 

Spray painting a wooden shoe tree for upcycling as mushroom garden decor

When all was said and done, I painted two of the vintage shoe trees with red paint, two in bright green, and left two of the shoe stretchers that were blue as-is. These seemed like fun toadstool colors to me.

Mushroom garden ornaments by upcycling the wooden shoe stretchers

But of course, these aren’t just going to be mushroom garden decor! I needed to still upcycle them as plant markers, so that’s what I focused on next.

DIY Plant Markers for an Herb Garden

Now, to make the plant labels reusable each season, I used chalkboard paint for the actual label. That way, I can reuse them year after year, swapping out herbs as I go.

First, I applied a few coats of chalkboard paint to each one, stopping where my painter’s tape had ended before.

Chalkboard paint on wooden shoe stretchers as plant markers

And since little white spots are quintessential to toadstool mushrooms, I added dainty spots of white paint to each one. 

I found small sponge daubers that were the perfect size, but a pencil eraser might work, as well.

Can you handle the cuteness? My plant markers looked JUST LIKE toadstools to me.

Now all I needed to do was label them and they would be ready to be added to my potted herbs.

I swear, my penmanship worsens when I try to be extra neat…but at least you know I’m not faking it with photo editing software, right?

Herb garden markers and mushroom garden ornaments

But anyway, if you plan on planting the same herbs or vegetables each year, you could certainly use an oil-based paint pen for this step, as well.

The choice is most definitely yours, depending on your gardening habits!

DIY Plant Markers from Vintage Shoe Trees

Ta-da! Seriously, these are the cutest DIY plant markers ever. I mean, really, those vintage shoe trees were completely, 100% perfect for this!

diy garden markers

Aren’t they adorable as little toadstools? Talk about adding whimsy to your potted plants or herb garden!

But see what I mean? No one *needs* to label their herbs. But when the plant markers are this adorable, well…why not?

vintage shoe stretchers as diy plant markers

I hope you enjoyed my three part upcycling series on herb gardening! I had a great time putting all the projects together and sharing with you.

diy plant markers from vintage shoe trees

And if you enjoyed this upcycling idea for DIY plant markers for my herb garden, then you may also enjoy these hanging herb baskets, as well! Can you guess what they started out as?

hanging herb baskets from lampshade frames

And for even more upcycling ideas for garden markers and plant labels, please peruse this collection for tons of inspiration!

Upcycling crafts for plant labels and garden markers

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Adorable!

  2. GirlfromWVa says

    Awesomely done!

  3. Margaret says

    Super creative, as usual! These are so cute!

  4. WOW! I love the way you think outside the box. I always look forward to opening your blog and seeing what you have created. Your ideas make me smile. Keep doing what you’re doing!!

  5. missmargaretdesigns says

    These are so adorable!

  6. Kathy A. says

    Oh, no, another thing to be on the lookout for when I yard sale this summer! Love them! I make theme baskets for raffles for a group and church bazaar; what a great addition!

  7. What a fun idea!! I see these at the thrift store sometimes, and now I know what else I could use them for! 🙂

  8. I love a vintage updo. That was so cute .

  9. What a cute idea! Keep ’em coming!

  10. You’re right! They look exactly like toadstools or mushrooms! What a cute & clever idea! I love how you repurposed these!

  11. You always have the best ideas, so cute! And how nice of your friend! xo

  12. Kimberley A Mason says

    I am always amazed at the the things you come up with. Love, Love, Love it!
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. OMG, those are adorable, what a great idea!!


  14. mary scott says

    I have a collection of these in a clear glass vase in my guest room. I love them. thanks

  15. Ohmigosh Sarah! These are so cute— I love the idea 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  16. acraftymix says

    Oh yes please, those are just beyond adorable Sarah. I wish I could get inside your headand just drift on clouds of creativeness. This is a stunning idea

    • acraftymix says

      And when I’m super excited about a new creative idea I clearly have no concept of checking what I write. Sorry about the type 😉

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you, sweet friend! But…I mean…compared to your luggage dresser…this is NOTHING! 😛 😛

  17. Genius!! Absolutely adorable.

  18. I absolutely love this idea!! Pinned! thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY Party!

  19. Another cute idea.

  20. These are adorable Sarah! So cute and what a great way to reuse the shoe stretchers! And I agree with you, they totally looked like toadstools 😉

  21. You think of everything and that’s a good thing. I would have plunged the painted end into the soil without a thought. These are so cute and this has been a great series. Thank you for sharing with us at Celebrate Your Story, and I hope you’re having a great weekend.

  22. JaneEllen says

    Will never look at shoe stretchers the same (if I can ever find any that is). So doggoned clever, cute and inventive. Leave it to you Sarah. Love these, so handy also. I’d probably need a marker to remember what plant was what, duh. Senior moments are the pits, lol. Love colors you chose.. Could use shorter ones for fairy garden
    Have wonderful rest of week

  23. These are adorable! I need a way to mark some of my perennials that I can’t remember the names, and I love these. I will be watching out for some of there.

  24. Jeannie Wallace says

    Toadstool markers? The thought would never have crossed my mind. These are adorable. They make you want to have an herb garden of your own. That’s just what I’m going to do. Thanks for the inspiration. Amazing job as usual.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you, Jeannie! And yes, they are cute enough to give you reason to start a garden, that’s for sure!

  25. Sarah these are the cutest things ever! I wish I had seen this a few years ago, I had some of these and had no idea what to do with them so I gave them away :/ Excellent repurpose!

  26. Debbie- Dabble says

    Thanks so much for sharing this idea!!! I have 2 of these and have been trying to think of something to do with them!! Great idea!!! Love it!!

  27. Thank you so much for sharing your great idea!!!
    Love it!!♡

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