Garden Plants at Stake
Stakes are often forsaken at the expense of the flowers. Traditionally thought to be intrusive and unattractive, stakes should be neither if they are used properly. Carefully staked plants will show no visible support because the healthy and attractive foliage will hide the stakes or various strings and wires. And staked plants are far more appealing than their unstaked counterparts who cannot hold their pretty flowerheads up to please anyone.
The best way to stake is to begin early in the growing season so you can easily train your plant and its subsequent foliage to cover its support system. Staking mature plants whose foliage is flopping is a far more difficult task, and the leaves and flowers are not as appealing as if the plant were trained from the start. Generally speaking, a stake should be planted about six inches shorter than your plant is likely to be at maturity. The stalk of the flower should be tied to the stake firmly, but with some give to allow for winds or gusty breezes. Twine makes for an adequate tie, but strips of fabric may also be used.
If your garden boasts clumps of flowers in need of support, a stake system can be accomplished by supporting the clump rather than each individual plant. Place stakes around the clump, then circle and criss-cross through the center with your twine. For an unobtrusive look, use twigs as stakes and fishing line as your ties.
Bamboo stakes are quite common and can be purchased as thin as a pencil or up to a half inch in thickness depending on how much support the plant requires. Round or square wire cages are sometimes needed for staking plants like peonies and tomatoes. In the case of the cages, these plants do not even need to be tied; the plant will grow through the wire and find its own support. These must be installed while the plant is quite young to be most effective. Wire rings may also be purchased at local garden centers for similar purpose.
Other plants like climbers and vines may thrive as ground cover, but will grow to create a wonderful dimension of height in your garden. Usually any type of support structure will do given the plant can grow through and around it. Trellises are the most commonly used support structures, but you can be creative and use a flea market find - even a section of lattice fencing or stretch of chicken wire. Whatever you stake, you are likely to be adding to the look and longevity of the plant in question making for a most appealing garden filled with healthful looking plants.
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