Stakes from sticks...

...and other thrifty and cool means of support.

 

Holding up floppy plants with twisted twigs, hoops, fencing, grow-thru grids, woven branches and sculpture. Soon grown over but why not make them fun to see until then? Even a bush clematis can benefit from such support.

If:

  • you're the collector many of us are and must keep big things small,
  • if you're growing shrubs for colorful twigs, or
  • shrubs you grow are healthier and  more attractive when cut regularly
During each its first ten winters in our yard, this staking sculpture got the attention of one or another of our neighbors. They would ask, "What is that blue bush in your yard?"

During each its first ten winters in our yard, this staking sculpture got the attention of one or another of our neighbors. They would ask, "What is that blue bush in your yard?"

Then you're cutting shrubs back hard in late winter and early spring. Many of those canes are great for staking perennials. Keep those that have no thorns, are at least 24" long and have some branches toward the tip. They make great pre-emptive crutches for floppy plants.

 

Twisted twigs

Here are burning bush branches...

Here are burning bush branches...

...and rose of sharon branches placed to stake a peony (arrows mark some of the peony shoots.) The burning bush branches have plenty of crotches which will serve as crutches. The rose of Sharon branches were not so twiggy, so I braided them like wattle.

...and rose of sharon branches placed to stake a peony (arrows mark some of the peony shoots.) The burning bush branches have plenty of crotches which will serve as crutches. The rose of Sharon branches were not so twiggy, so I braided them like wattle.

And here are some other staking tools. Whatever you do in terms of staking, do it early so you won't have to spend time trying to pick up plants and make them presentable after they tumble in summer.

 

Grow-thru grids

We like the grow-thru grids best of the staking kits we can buy. They're quick to place, and unseen once the plant grows through.

We like the grow-thru grids best of the staking kits we can buy. They're quick to place, and unseen once the plant grows through.

Arrow points out the nearly-covered ring.

Arrow points out the nearly-covered ring.

Hoops and fencing

 

If you stake with hoops, there won't be anything to keep the inner stems from leaning out. And if you stake with fencing, keep in mind that it's going to be tough to reach into that cage to weed around the base of the caged plant.

Hoops and fencing as perimeter supports.

Hoops and fencing as perimeter supports.

We call them police lines -- one can lean on them and even reach over them but not cross them.

We call them police lines -- one can lean on them and even reach over them but not cross them.

We prefer gridded supports or staking with twigs twisted together.

 

Woven branches

 

How about this work of art? 

We see this done well in many European and Canadian gardens, not so often in our own neck of the woods. This one was in a perennial border at Edinburgh Royal Botanical Garden, Scotland.

We see this done well in many European and Canadian gardens, not so often in our own neck of the woods. This one was in a perennial border at Edinburgh Royal Botanical Garden, Scotland.

Soon grown over!

 

When you stake in April and May, the staking arrangement may be noticeable for a few weeks but the plants soon cover it. 

These photos were taken three weeks apart, in May.

These photos were taken three weeks apart, in May.

A staking sculpture, our invention

Here's a staking sculpture we designed and had made by a local artist.

Here's a staking sculpture we designed and had made by a local artist.

We love it. It's a perma-stake!

We love it. It's a perma-stake!

Take the photos to someone like Brian Kennedy at Bad Axe Iron Works and have him make one like it for you.

Take the photos to someone like Brian Kennedy at Bad Axe Iron Works and have him make one like it for you.

We support peonies and blue globe thistle with the supports we have of this type, but could use them for any other plant in a place that deserves winter attention. This blue bush clematis (Clematis heracleifolia), for instance. (More about this particular clematis on the Forum.)

Related links

  • Sledge a veg bed
  • Grow 575: Hydrangea, ground cover, pinching