Supporting Role of Stakes, Ties and Canes

Lush growth in May and June will create abundant growth and plenty of colour. But by mid summer and early autumn a shabbiness of middle age may have crept into your borders. However a border that has been carefully staked and tied in spring and summer will not lapse into slovenly habits.

Tips for Using Canes

  • It makes sense to support single-stem plants like Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Gladioli early in the season but it is never too late. When tying stems to a cane make a loose figure-of-eight with the twine or a tight knot will damage the the stem.
  • You can make your own ‘pea sticks’ from Hazel, Elm suckers, Beech or even Fir.
  • If you want to grow your own canes then the bamboo Phyllostachys nigra produces unobtrusive black canes.
  • Use thick canes if possible – buy 8 foot canes and cut in two with a fine hacksaw at a joint
  • Freshly bought canes can be cut with secateurs
  • Single canes are not appropriate for multi stemmed plants as the string just makes a noose for the plant to flop into. Put two canes at the back and at least one in the middle then a web of string can provide several supports.
  • If your string slips down the cane your effort will be wasted. use a clove hitch knot slid down from the top of the cane and keep the know just above a joint.

Off the Peg Plant Supports

  • Circular wire grids too set above a plant for it to grow through are available but are not cheap. The green plastic covering on the wire isn’t totally natural in appearance.
  • Interlocking stakes with a hook to link to the next stake helps make a support shape appropriate to the plant can work quite well. I use these for Peonies.
  • Semi circular hoops for the border edges are available to hold plants back from lawnmowers
  • Part off the peg and part DIY you can use a wire grid supported in 4 corners to cover a wide area of the herbaceous border.
  • Obelisks and a variety of cast iron towers are available for training climbing plants

Special Staking for Special Plants

  • Sweet peas can be grown like a cordon straight up an individual cane. more common is to have a Wigwam shape of canes for them to grow up. Special pea rings of wire in a split circle can be bought.
  • Runner beans can be grown uo a double row of canes that lean in to create an inverted ‘V’ shape with a cross cane tied in at the top of the ‘V’.
  • For some soft climbing plants you can’t beat traditional trellis
  • For Vines and Wisteria against a wall strong wire support is best tied to special Vine eye nails.
  • Hazel branches can be long and strong making good supports for many circumstances


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