Staking, Supporting and Training Plants
Methods of Supporting Plants
Tall plants and plants that climb will require the support of netting, trellises, canes, teepees, or other plants especially if they are planted in a windy or wet area. It is important to install any supports at the time of planting or sowing in order to avoid damaging roots and other plant parts by inserting stakes later and trying to secure the stems without breaking them. Adding supports early in the planting phase will encourage the plant to grow through and around the supports, hiding them and giving the plant a very natural look.
Pea-staking is a popular method of staking used in English gardens. It utilizes twiggy branches as unobtrusive support for floppy perennials such as Aster, Coreopsis, and some Campanulas. Single stakes are often necessary for tall plants that have large, heavy flowers such as lilies. The stake-and-twine method can also be used to create a kind of cage for supporting plants that grow in dense clumps with a lot of foliage such as Heliopsis.
Vines can be grown on structures such as trellises, tripods or teepees, fences, wire or other plants. They attach themselves using specialized plant parts - tendrils, aerial roots - or by entwining themselves around the structure. Some vines have modified tendrils with suction-cup tips that allow the vine to adhere to a wall, rock, or other vertical structure, giving it support and enabling it to "climb". Some vines are grown as groundcovers. Their trailing stems produce roots from nodes that embed themselves in soil, creating a dense, vegetative mat. A good example of such a vine for a non-traffic area is wintercreeper (Euonymous fortunei). The Do-It-Yourself Network (DIY) site has some good examples of how to build various structures, including written instructions and images. Other sites that have information about building garden structures include GardenPlans.com and The Forest Shop.
- Netting - serves as support for climbing vines; also important for protection from birds and other wildlife
- Stakes - metal, bamboo, plastic
- Teepees or pyramids - metal, bamboo, wood; available as collapsible or permanent structures
- Trellis - wood, metal, bamboo, willow
- Twine - used in conjunction with stakes
- Hoops - peony hoops, tomato hoops
- Coated wire, old nylons, twist-ties - used to tie plant stems to supports
Wind - Support Tall Ornamental Plants Against Wind
Gardening and Landscaping, "Structures", DIY Network, http://www.diynet.com
Iowa State University, "Staking Perennials", Horticulture and Home Pest News, Sherry Rindels, May 19, 1995. Updated by John VanDyk, December 26, 1997. http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1995/5-19-1995/stake.html
Ohio State University Extension, online information, "Methods of Staking Perennials".
The Forest Shop, http://www.forestshop.com/craft.html
University of Illinois Extension, "Supporting Your Plants", The Greene Thumb, Glenna Wright. May 2001.
University of Vermont Extension, "To Stake or Not to Stake", The Greene Mountain Gardener Summer news article, Dr. Leonard Perry.
Oregon State University Extension, "Wind - Support Tall Ornamental Plants Against Wind", Gardening Information, Bob Rost. September 12, 1997.