Plant supports

by Adam Pasco

In the past two-three weeks my perennial plants have soared upwards, and being preoccupied with other parts of the garden I took my eye off the ball.

Perennial plant foliage poking through plant supportChoosing the very best plant supports for perennial plants is always a challenge. Firstly you've got to decide which type of plant support to go for. Should it be something robust made of metal, or something more natural, or even homemade?

Then you have to decide exactly when to put them in place. Some support frames need to be carefully positioned over clumps early in the season to ensure that foliage and stems grow up through holes for support.

Never leave delphiniums and other tall perennials unstaked. All it takes is one downpour and strong wind when plants are coming into flower and the whole lot can be flattened.

But this May has caught me out. Some of my plant supports are in place, but not all of them. In the past two-three weeks my perennial plants have soared upwards, and being preoccupied with other parts of the garden I took my eye off the ball. Now these perennials, including my delphiniums, have grown too tall to comfortably drop a metal plant support frame over the top of the plants without damaging them.

An alternative method of support is required, so I'll resort to using bamboo plant supports. Long, thick canes are hammered down into the dry soil, and green string is wound round the clump from cane to cane to hold everything upright. It's not ideal, but better than nothing.

I don't want the canes to stand out and look unsightly, so I cut the tops off so they sit just below the base of the flower spike. I'm hoping foliage will fill out and hide the canes completely. After all, I want to enjoy sumptuous flowers and not unsightly stakes this summer.

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/06/2010 at 10:13

I find hazel stakes great and unobtrusive and cheap as I cut them from my freebie nut trees brought by the squirrels. Once I made the mistake of using hardy fuchsia and cornus stakes and they all rooted! We have had some longed for rain and a jungle has grown overnight - now for some long weed-pulling session.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/06/2010 at 09:12

I wish I could access hazel stakes. i don't like the look of bamboo but can find no source near us and our squirrels aren't so obliging near Peterborough! I've tried Google and our local country park to; no avail. Shame.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/06/2010 at 10:29

Thanks Ked. I agree. There is a big market for natural hazel stakes, I'm sure, especially at this time of year when gardeners are looking for bean poles and plant supports. I think the garden centres are missing out on a big market here. And considering that these natural products are grown here in the UK we could be supporting local businesses and reducing imports of bamboo plant supports from abroad.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/06/2010 at 07:26

Ked, why don't you try posting a request on Freecycle( There will be a local group near you, you have to register with the site but I've used it for giving away raspberry canes and self seeded hazel saplings as well as getting a free bath from a lady in our village which we've used as a duck pond. It is a GREAT way of recycling unwanted items and reducing landfill and it's all free!

Gardeners' World Web User 07/06/2010 at 09:01

I use wire coathangers. Straighten out the kook and bend to right angles with the loop. Pull the loop into a circle, slip the loop over plants and stuff the spike down into the end of a bamboo cane the right length. You can pull it out to put in a longer cane and move it up as the plants grow. It will dull down with a film of rust quite quickly, and can be easily flattened for storage for next year. Free and easy!

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