As some plants grow, they get too heavy for their stems. When this occurs, flowers may droop over and fruit can touch the ground and rot quickly. Fortunately, staking can keep blooms lifted and help crops ripen correctly. The key is to choose the right staking method and do it properly. Read on for tips on how to stake your plants and which tools to use.
Plants to Stake
There are two main types of plants that may require staking: tall flowering perennials and vegetable plants.
Flowering perennials are flowers that come back year after year. Plants such as heliopsis, delphiniums, sweet peas, lilies, peonies and dahlias grow tall should be staked.
Vegetable plants that have slender vine-like stems are most likely to benefit from being staked. Some veggies to consider staking are pole beans, peas, tomatoes and peppers.
Tip: Check the plant tag for information about the plant height. If it grows to 2 feet or more, consider staking.
Single Plant Stakes
Single plants like zinnias or tomatoes can be staked plant-by-plant. In this case, you should use one garden stake for each plant. Manufacturers make garden stakes from various materials, including bamboo, plastic, wood, steel and other metals.
To stake using single plant stakes, hammer each about 6 inches into the ground. Tie the plant to the stake about two-thirds up the stem.
Tip: Use caution when hammering stakes so you don't harm the plant's roots. If you know your plant will eventually need support, put the stake in when you plant to prevent this.
Multiple Plant Stakes
If your plant still droops with just one stake, add two or three. Multiple staking is a good choice when you have many plants that need support or if your plants have a lot of stems. To use multiple stakes for a large area, try a woven design. This will give your plants something to grab onto as they grow.
- Place stakes at both ends of a row or a large plant.
- Run the length of the garden wire or twine from the top of one stake to the other.
- String another wire or twine from bottom to bottom.
- Create a zigzag by wrapping the twine around the top and bottom lengths.
- Make sure to give your plants a helping hand by gently guiding new growth toward the wire or twine.
Tomato cages are another way to support your plants. They're not just for tomatoes. You can use them for other vegetables that need staking.
Place the cage around your plant while it's still small. If you have a cage with legs, push them into the ground and pat down the soil around them. For other cage styles, tie them to garden stakes for support. As your plant grows, guide the growth toward the rings of the cage.
Plant support hoops can be a good option for single-stemmed plants that need more support than a single stake. These specialty garden stakes have a large loop at the top with a small gap.
To use, push the stake into the ground. Then, gently slip the stem through the gap on the hoop. The round part of the stake will help keep the top of the plant upright.
Trellises are another solution for supporting multiple plants in your gardens. They work best for plants that grow outward and upward, like pole beans, zucchini and melons. Trellises come in a wide range of colors, sizes and materials. Some are simple wire frames, while others are highly decorative wood pieces.
Many wire trellises have legs that you can push directly into the ground. With other trellises, attach rebar to the legs with twine or add wood stakes with nails or screws to make legs. Or, if your garden layout allows, you can mount trellises on walls.
Once your trellis is in place, guide new growth toward it to help with climbing.
How to Tie Your Plants to the Stakes
Use care when tying your plants to a stake to avoid damage. For delicate stems, select softer materials like twine or string. As you pull the knot, don't tighten it all the way. Just pull enough to keep the plant in place but give it room to grow.
Hook-and-loop gardening tape can save you time and reduce the risk of damaging the plants. These fasteners work like hook and loop closures on shoes, holding a plant in place without any need to tie.
Try Plant Clips
If you're training a plant to grow toward a tomato cage, trellis or zig-zagging wire, plant clips can be a big help. They come in various sizes and styles, but they all serve the same purpose. Once the plant naturally grows around the support, you can remove the clip and let it continue on its own.
When to Stake
The best time to put stakes in the ground is when you're planting. However, you might only need to attach your plant to the stakes after they begin to grow. Keep a close eye on the new growth. When you notice drooping or sagging, it's time to tie.
There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all stake. If stakes are too short, your plants will quickly outgrow them, and replacing them could hurt the stems or roots.
To avoid this, choose stakes based on the height your plant will grow to, not its current height. Use the plant tag information as a guide. Select a stake around two-thirds the height of the mature plant height. For example, if a plant grows to 3 feet, you would multiply 3 by .66. The result is 1.98, so a stake around 2 feet tall would be the right choice.
Plan to stake tall perennials and vegetable plants from the start for best results. Choose a staking method based on the type of plant, the number of plants and the layout of your garden. Stock up on garden stakes, tools and materials early. Use The Home Depot Mobile App to locate products and check inventory. We'll take you to the exact aisle and bay.