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What Does It Mean to Stake a Plant?
Staking a plant means driving upright stakes into the ground and fastening plants to them using plant ties. The stakes provide strength and support, and they permit plants to continue pushing skyward when they'd otherwise be overcome by rain, high winds, or the weight of their fruit or flowers.
4 Types of Plants That Need to Be Staked
Many plants benefit from staking, either just when they’re young or throughout their lifespan.
- Flowering perennials: Perennials live for at least two years and often much longer, but they may need help during growing season. Dahlias, delphiniums, peonies, sweet peas, zinnias, sedums, and lilies all benefit from plant supports. You should prune them back when they aren't growing, but if you attach them to single stakes or trellises in early spring, they'll become more full at the height of the season.
- Top-heavy houseplants: Some indoor plants, like philodendron, pothos, and young fiddle leaf fig trees, benefit from bamboo poles that guide their growth. In their natural habitat, some of these plants grow up against mature trees. When container gardening, you can simulate the support of those trees by using bamboo stakes, which allow houseplants to live long, healthy lives as potted plants.
- Vegetables: Many vegetables need extra support. Tomato plants, for instance, produce bountiful harvests, but they can't handle their own weight. Stake tomatoes every growing season, or better yet, surround them with a tomato cage that supports them from all sides. You can use tomato cages for other plants as well. Bell peppers benefit from the extra support, but most hot peppers (which don't grow to be particularly tall plants) are fine without them.
- Saplings: Flowers and vegetables aren't the only garden plants that need staking. Young trees can benefit from stakes, particularly when you’re growing them in windy or rainy conditions. You can attach a sampling to a single stake, or you can set up two tall stakes on either side of the young tree, connecting it to the stakes using twine or bungee cords.
4 Ways to Stake a Plant
There are four primary ways to stake a plant, depending on the kind of support it needs.
- Single stake: The most common plant-staking method involves using a single stake. Garden centers sell wooden stakes, bamboo stakes, plastic stakes, and metal stakes to which you can attach plants with a plastic plant tie. To use a single plant stake, hammer a stake roughly six inches into the ground right next to the plant. Avoid severing any plant roots if possible. Find a spot about two-thirds of the way up the plant, and attach the plant to the stake using garden ties, garden twine, or even velcro. Some plants require extra support, and a single stake may not support them. In these cases, you can stake plants to multiple supports.
- Ring-style support: You can use a metal ring to support plants—like strawberries—that produce multiple stems. These ring-style supports feature a circular wire grow-through grid upheld by metal stakes. Plant shoots grow through the wire grid, which supports them as they fill out with foliage and fruit. The drawback to ring-style growth-through grids is that you cannot remove them without damaging the plant.
- Tomato cage: Cages can support many plant species, not just tomatoes. Tomato cages work much like ring-style supports, but they’re typically taller with open tops. Plant cages provide 360 degrees of support and are ideal for young trees or vegetable garden favorites like tomato plants.
- Trellis: If your plant expands horizontally as it grows upward, look into building a trellis for it to grow up against. Pole beans grow well along wood trellises and fences, as do melons and zucchini.
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