Plant Support, Stakes and Ties
Garden Trellises are made to support climbing vine type plants, from ornamental thunbergia (black-eyed susan) to edibles such as cucumbers or peas. There are vast array of styles and sizes of trellises to suit any garden.
A flat, decorative trellis is ideal for your showy annual flowering vines either along a fence or wall. There are also obelisks or “trellis towers” that are 3- or 4-sided or circular and come to a point at the top. These are better suited to be a free-standing feature in your garden as the widening base provides stability in wind storms.
Support you edible vines in your vegetable garden with more plain, more functional trellises. Peas grown on a flat trellis benefit from the extra space and airflow are easy to harvest from both sides. If you’re container gardening, fan-shaped trellises are a great choice. The narrower base fits easily into planters while the wider top gives more room for your cucumbers (and other veggies) to spread.
No matter the style of trellis, young plants in the first half of the season may need help “finding” and latching onto a trellis. Find the growing tip and gently guide the anchoring vines to the trellis. If plant is too small to reach, wait a couple of days for it to grow and try again. In most cases, once a vine has latched onto the lower part of a trellis, it will continue to grow up it with little help. However, if one decides to go a little sideways, you can always guide it back the same way.
Like Trellises, arches are best used to support vining plants and are an ideal way to make a living entrance to your garden oasis. Choose your favourite annual climbing vine to plant or as a low maintenance option, plant a perennial vine such as clematis for an arch that’ll grow fuller each year!
Pole-style stakes are great for providing support to plants with a main “trunk” or stem with foliage that branches off. Classic examples are indeterminate tomatoes and pepper plants. The stake acts as a reinforcement and guide for the main stem as the plant grows. Stakes can be made of wood, natural bamboo, coated metal or plastic and are available in different heights for your plant’s needs.
The key with stakes is to insert the stake near the plant but not touching, and to secure the plant to the stake loosely, allowing room for the plant to grow. Keep adding loose ties as the plant gains height, always checking that none of the lower ties have started to choke the plant.
Cages and Towers
For plants that get tall and top heavy while still bushing out, or for plants with multiple stems, a plant cage or tower is best. As an example, determinate tomatoes don’t grow to the same heights as their indeterminate brothers, but instead their branches split creating a “bush” effect that needs to be supported on all sides.
Cages and towers can be used your in vegetable garden rows, raised beds or containers. They should be place around the plant early in the season—when still small—and plants are allowed to grow into the cage. This way the cage gives supports all around the plant as the branches grow where they need to.
Most cages have 2 or 3 tiers of outside rings and are usually made of weather-resistant galvanized or coated metal. As a side note, folding 4-panel towers can be opened flat and instead of being used like a cage, can be used like a flat trellis against a wall to grow peas and other climbing vines.
Similar to cages and towers, peony rings are meant to support multi-stemmed plants such as, you guessed it, peonies. Peony rings are designed a little differently—usually with only 1 ring, sometimes 2—and are generally coloured to be attractive or blend into the plant. There are also Peony rings with a wire grid attached to its ring that provides support to interior stems so that the entire plant stands up right.
Like cages, peony rings should be placed around plants when they are young and allowed to be grown into. For rings with the aforementioned grid, you can guide the stems to different quadrants as they just get to the ring to separate and balance the plant as it grows.
Peony rings of course don’t have to be used just for peonies, they’re great supports for a variety of plants including top heavy poppies.
Low-to-the-ground path fencing lies in-between garden decor and plant support. While designed to look great along your path, these fences can keep your path clean and plants healthy. They are great bracers for any taller or trailing plants right at the edge of your beds that might otherwise fall over onto your path and be trampled.
When you need to secure your plants to your supports, there are a variety of ties to choose from. Traditional garden twine and nylon strips are economical solutions if you have a lot of tying to do, but these also need to be cut off at the end of each season. Soft coat or foam wire and Velcro plants ties are easy and fast to use—no knots—and are reusable season-after-season. In general, most plant ties come in spools or rolls where you can cut lengths to suit your needs.