I found myself in the predicament of having to stake some tall plants this past weekend. My cherry tomatoes are quite vigorous and were starting the bend and break. In order to not sacrifice their fruit, my time and labor, intervention was needed. Luckily I had some extra wooden dowels laying around. I made a tripod out of dowels with elastic string and attached it to the tomato cage growing around the plant. Staking plants is not limited to vegetable gardens; it is often required for tall flowers. Tall flowers in spring and summer may require staking to keep the flowers upright. Providing support for tall plants will also help to prevent breakage and keep the garden looking neat and tidy.
Staking Tall Flowers
What are the most common flowers that require staking?
Fortunately, not all tall flowers require staking. However, there are some notorious bulbs and perennials that almost always require added support. It is worth it to put in the extra work for the blooms that these plants produce.
The first perennial that comes to mind that often needs support is a spring classic, the peony plant. Known for their large, fragrant blooms many varieties of peonies will need support once the flowers mature.
Some varieties of lily bulbs will require staking, especially if they are known to grow extra tall. Most varieties of Orienpet Lilies can benefit from added structure to keep the flowers upright. Tall tiger lilies and martagon lilies often benefit from added support as well.
One of the most common summer flower bulbs that will require staking are gladiolus. Due to the heavy nature of the flowers and their tall vertical growth habit, they have a tendency to tip over.
Perennials that require staking aren’t as universal. Often perennials that are flopping over may be telling you they need to be divided or more sun vs always needing to be staked. However, if you have tall perennials like Globe Thistle, Sea Holly, and certain varieties of black-eyed Susan, they may require staking.
What materials are best for staking tall flowers?
Plant supports are available at most home and garden stores. They may be labeled as peony stakes, but they can be used for any plant that needs extra support. Tomato cages can also be helpful for more than tomatoes and work well for staking peonies and dahlias.
The fun thing about staking your garden is it allows for creativity. If you are on a budget or looking to use items you have on hand there are creative ways to stake your plants.
Old wire coat hangers can be cut with a wire cutter, be careful when cutting. Old wire coat hangers are flexible and can be bent to wrap around stems. They can be stuck into the ground and then wrapped around the stems of flowers that need to be held up.
Bamboo stakes and tall wooden dowels also work well for adding extra support. Combine tall stakes with twine, twist ties, zip ties, fishing line, elastic ties, or any other type of string to prop up tall flopping plants.
If your flowers are against a vertical structure such as a fence, arbor, trellis, or lattice you can tie the stems to the structure for added support.
When is the best time to stake tall flowers?
Flowers that always require staking should be set up for support as soon as growth emerges. Peonies, gladiolus, and tall dahlias are examples of flowers that should be staked right away.
When growth emerges from Peonies in spring place your tomato cages, or peony supports around the new growth as soon as it emerges. By placing the stakes in the plants when they are young it allows the growth to emerge and find support within the structure. Breakage can occur when trying to stake tall flowers once they are fully grown.
Gladiolus benefit from having support in place as soon as they start growing. Our Complete Guide to Growing Gladiolus has all the details on growing happy and healthy gladiolus, including staking information. If gladiolus are being grown in rows, the best way to stake is setting up string lines that run along both sides of the gladiolus. The string lines can be anchored by stakes at the end of each row. Multiple strings will need to be attached to the stakes at the end of the row to cover various heights. Having a string at the heights of 12″, 24″, 36″, and 48″ should provide enough support for the gladiolus in rows.
When growing gladiolus in the garden alone plant stakes that wrap round the flowers will help to provide support. Planting tall and sturdy plants around the gladiolus can also help to provide natural support.
It’s never too late to support your plants
If you didn’t know your plants needed staking and they are starting to flop, supporting them can still happen. Stems, leaves, and flowers may need to be removed in order to properly stake the plants. However, a little cleanup and maintenance will be worth it for the plants to be able to flower and thrive. Sometimes you underestimated how much staking the plants will need and need to provide additional support once they are grown, that happens too! In an ideal world staking the plants when they start to emerge is best, however, sometimes that isn’t always possible. If you missed staking them completely this year, it’s ok there is always next year to give them the support they need.