Accessioning and labelling


Possibly more important than having the plants is knowing what and where they are. 

Making sure all the information about a plant is available and accessible is a vital part of holding a National Plant Collection.


All National Plant Collections need to be ‘accessioned’. This just means that every plant in your collection has a unique identifying number, or code, which can be used to track it through your collection. Information about the plant can then be attached to the accession, such as legal paperwork, pictures, characterisation data or plant health issues.

A purely numeric system can suffice (0001 and so on), although this does not immediately convey much information unless you are familiar with the plants concerned. So quite often this number is combined with the year of acquisition (2019-0001 and so on). At the very least this immediately tells you when you received the plant, so giving an indication of its age and longevity in your collection.

For a more in depth look at different ways of accessioning plants in a collection, see this document.

The best way to order and store all of the information that you will start to gather about your plants is in a database - see the pages on Plant Recording and the Persephone database.


The accession number should appear on the labels for the plants. We recommend double labeling for all plant collections - one where you can read it and one sunk into the pot or buried underground, should the first one come off, fade or be rearranged by helpful children.

We can provide printed, plastic stick-in labels at cost price for collection holders - contact us for details. Some collection holders are using Near Field Communications tags, which can be read by a smartphone, to digitally label their plants. More details in this article on the collection holder's blog.

Other useful links to label suppliers, from plastic tags to botanic garden style engraved plaques are below:

Label Suppliers and Engraving Services

Conserving the diversity of garden plants

eg: plant genus, common name, county, collection holder name.