Staking and Supporting Plants
Supporting your plants
However colourful a vista your presents, if it is littered with assorted stakes, many of them protruding above the plants, the whole effect will be spoilt. Supporting your plants is something to be approached with care and a little ingenuity. However, in a closely-planted flower bed, many plants will gain support by leaning on their neighbours, and it is remarkable how many tall require no staking; such plants include Macleaya, Arundo donax, Aconitum x carmichaelii ‘Arendsii’, tall phloxes and Eupatorium maculatum.
You should choose your time to stake carefully, and with regard to the plant in question. Delphiniums, for example, when the shoots are about 45cm (1-1/2ft) high, could have the clump supported with a metal hoop or with proprietary wire supports, which are comparatively unobtrusive. A few weeks later, when the flower stems are rapidly gaining height and the plants are burgeoning with lush growth, you could start using taller stakes.
For the sort of delphiniums you see at flower shows, each flower spike should have an individual stake, but usually these and other large herbaceouscan be staked as follows: put in a number of canes round the clump (trying not to pierce the roots), attach green garden string to them, and weave it in and out and back and forth between the flower stems. Supported this way, the plants appear more natural. Brittle, succulent stems, secured too tightly to a cane, will snap at the point of attachment when the wind blows, so it is better to tie them loosely, making a figure of eight with the stake and flower stem, leaving room for a little movement. , with their mass of leafage, usually need something stronger than bamboo canes: wooden stakes about 2.5cm (1in) square are appropriate.
Many plants can be allowed to flop gently about, but should they start leaning too far, an excellent method of support consists of a semi-circle of metal, with long legs that push into the ground, a boon to anybody with an aversion to staking. Painted matt black or dark green, you hardly notice them, and they are quick and easy to put in place. Supports with legs about 90cm (3ft) long are good for tallwhile those of about 30cm (1ft) are excellent for the discreet control of bulging plants on the edge of a bed. Even sometimes need support, and two of these metal hoops placed around the plant to form a circle can be left in place from year to year. Twiggy peasticks (such as those of hazel, often used for culinary ) can be pushed into the soil to support leafy clumps of herbaceous plants. One of the least obtrusive forms of staking (they are quickly concealed as the plants grow) they are excellent, and cheap — if you can get them.
As with all garden tasks, work ethic comes in particularly handy with regard to staking. Inventing excuses, like having to go back and fetch the string or the stakes is a pretext to put off this essential job.