I've been finding dozens of plastic labels what were written with a sharpie that are now faded beyond readability. Since I didn't write them, I don't know what is planted there. I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to revive the writing.

  • If you mean a way to reveal what was once written there, that's not going to be possible - inevitably, anything used to write names on plastic labels fades with uv exposure. – Bamboo Nov 4 '17 at 0:16

The writing is probably lost forever.

I can think of two things that might work if you are very lucky:

  • Look at the label from a very flat angle in good, preferably diffuse light. Sometimes there is a trace that can be seen as “textural difference”, e.g. more or less glossy than the label itself.
  • If you have access to a black light (UV light), go into a dark room and try that. Sometimes the traces of the writing become visible.

If neither works, feel free to ask a lot of ID questions here. Please post them each as separate questions, though!

  • the black light idea was brilliant! I purchased an inexpensive 51 led blacklight flashlight from Amazon and collected two sample tags. Link to gallery As it turns out one was written in pencil the other in marker. Sadly my need to read tags is less to do with identifying existing plants and more to do with understanding and documenting what was existing and now lost. – Ben Nov 7 '17 at 13:49
  • So glad it worked, @Ben! – Stephie Nov 7 '17 at 14:23

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