How to - Techniques

Three ideas for plant supports

Karen York
Photography by
Emilie Simpson (illustrations)

From stakes to obelisks, prevent your plants from toppling and flopping


Using tall stakes and twine
Statuesque plants with top-heavy flowers (such as delphiniums) and lanky, hollow-stemmed plants (like meadow rue) can break unless well supported. You’ll need strong but soft twine (5-ply is ideal; green is least visible) and tall sturdy stakes—common materials are bamboo, rebar, wood or plastic-covered steel.

To get the right length, allow for the plant’s height plus 25 centimetres in the ground. Here are three staking methods:

Corset: Push several stakes 20 to 25 centimetres into the earth around the plant, angling them slightly outward and avoiding damaging the roots. Tie twine to one stake about 30 centimetres from the ground, then encircle the plant, wrapping the twine once or twice around each stake. Repeat at 30- to 40-centimetre intervals all the way up.

Cat’s cradle: Push in stakes around the plant as above, but crisscross the twine across the circle from stake to stake to create a horizontal grid. Repeat every 30 centimetres.

One on one: Some plants, such as foxtail lilies, are best with individual stem support. Insert a stake close to each stem and tie them together using a figure-eight configuration so there is a crisscross of string between the two to stop the stem from chafing against the stake. Repeat at intervals, adding ties as the stem grows, but don’t cinch too tightly.

Plants for stakes and twine

  • Dahlias
  • Delphiniums
  • Foxtail lilies
  • Hollyhocks
  • Monkshood
  • Peonies
  • Meadow rue
  • Sunflowers
  • Tall lilies

Image: bluecinema/iStock



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