All Tall Plants Need Supports.

By: Rick Skew

A tall plant can be rocked by strong winds if its roots aren’t able to anchor it firmly in the ground. A freshly-planted specimen will not have this anchorage, so it can be dislodged or blown over. Staking is the answer, it is a job that you simply should do at planting time and not after the damage is done. Inspect the ties on a tree on a regular basis and adjust them as the stem thickens. Some herbaceous plants, such as Dahlias are also staked at planting time. Stout bamboo canes are usually used. Tie the stem to the support as growth proceeds using soft twine or raffia. The single pole method is suitable for plants with spire-like heads, such as Delphiniums. In these cases the stake must be tall enough to support the flower head.

In most cases, however, tying to a single stake should be avoided. With bushy plants an unsightly 'drumstick' effect is produced and is the sign of a poor gardener, the all-too-familiar sight of a tight group of stems fixed to a cane and a splayed out spray of flowers above.

Regrettably, weak-stemmed plants, tall varieties on exposed sites, large-headed flowers and climbers all will want support and stakes. Wires, canes and so on are not things of beauty in themselves. The answer is to pick the kind of support with care and attempt to put it in a position when the plant is quite small so that the stems can grow through to hide it.

For many plants all you will require is brushwood or pea sticks pushed into the soil all around the young plant when the stems are about 1 ft high. For more robust and bushy herbaceous plants insert 3 or 4 canes around the stems and enclose the shoots with twine tied around the canes at roughly 9 inch intervals. You can buy circular wire frames that are inserted into the soil and produe a similar effect. In all cases follow the golden rule - never leave staking until your plant has collapsed.

Really the only plants which regularly require staking in the vegetable garden are Beans and Peas. Peas may be supported with twigs when they're young but may need plastic netting when fully grown. Runner Beans are best grown against stout canes, either arranged as a wigwam or as a double row joined at the top by a horizontal holding bar.

Whenever a tree outgrows its stake it may still will need support. This could be provided by fixing a collar to the middle of the trunk and then securing it to the ground using 3 strong wires. Some shrubs with lax spreading stems may require some sort of support after a few years. Follow the principles described above for bushy herbaceous plants. Use 3 or 4 stakes with a band joining the top end of each stake, never rely on a single pole and twine.

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One of the jobs I enjoy a lot is having a gardening services team round . I find it helps me to unwind and forget everything, apart from the work I am doing.

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