Whether indoors or outdoors, there’ll be times when your plants need some extra support.
If your plant has heavy fruits or flowers, or if it’s top-heavy in general, that support will help them stay upright. Without it, the plant may fall over. And this can damage the blooms or fruit, or the plant itself.
Not only do supports help heavy plants, but they also give climbing plants a vehicle to climb up. As well, supports provide breakage protection to tall plants in heavy winds and rains. And lastly, they can offer vertical space for small areas.
But, not all supports are created equal. Different plants need different types of support.
Read on to learn of 5 types of plant supports to help you choose the right one for your plant.
Types of Plant Supports
Hoops come in varying sizes and can have a full-circle or semi-circle design.
You’ll find full-circle plant supports with single hoops, double hoops, or hoops with grids. Which variety you pick will depend on your plant and its anticipated size when fully grown.
Tip: If using a full circle hoop, make sure you place your support around your plant when the plant is still young. This way, the plant will grow up and through the ring.
With half circles, you can usually combine them to form a full hoop. Alternatively, they can be used individually to hold up one side of a plant.
Hoops are great for tall, busy plants. And half circle loops can be linked together in a row to keep plants from flopping onto walkways.
Most of us have seen the standard circular tomato cage, but cages can also be triangular and square in shape.
And they can be used not only for tomatoes but for other top-heavy plants as well.
Tip: Square cages, and some triangular ones, interlock to form their shape. But you can open the cage up and extend it to form a trellis-like design. This versatility is one of the reasons these are my favorite type of plant support for my veggies.
Extended cages can be used for climbing vines or vegetables. Alternately, open them up and use them as one-sided support for bushy plants.
3. Trellises & Obelisks
Trellises and obelisks can make wonderful, decorative additions to gardens.
They’re usually made of metal or wood, though you can find plastic trellises as well.
And they come in various shapes and designs, ranging from simple to elaborate.
Both of these plant supports are mainly used for climbing plants, such as clematis and bougainvillea.
However, they also make a great option for vine plants, such as cucumbers and melons.
They can be ideal for small garden spaces, or even container gardens as your vine plant can grow vertically instead of along the ground.
When choosing a trellis or obelisk, consider its purpose. Will it be decorative or strictly functional? Too, consider the height and weight of the plant once it’s fully grown to ensure the structure will support the plant long term.
Stakes can be fashioned from bamboo, metal, or hardwood and heights can range from 2 ft to 6 ft. You can use this type of plant support for any plant whose stem can be held in place with a tie.
There are two options when placing your stake.
You can place the stake next to your seedling. This way the plant grows alongside the stake.
Or, you can wait until the plant is grown and closer to needing the extra support. Here, though, place the stake far enough away from the plant so it doesn’t damage the roots.
Tip: Even if you stake a seedling, don’t tie your plant to its stake until it gets closer to needing the support. This will save you time retying the stake as the plant grows.
It’s important to choose a stake that’s sturdy enough to handle the weight of the plant. And, don’t be afraid to use additional stakes if extra support is needed. For trees, use a tree stake. These are designed to handle the heavier demands of trees.
5. DIY Supports
When it comes to plant supports, there’s no need to break the budget, or even dip into that wallet at all.
Stakes and cages can be fashioned from any metal or wood posts you have handy. As long as the post is sturdy enough for the plant.
Fences, walls, and mailboxes can all make excellent supports for your climbing plants. You can even use another plant as a support system for a climber.
Tip: If using another plant as a support, make sure the two plants are compatible. You don’t want the climbing plant to choke out the stationary plant. Also, it’s best to use annual climbers or plants that are cut down to the ground in winter.
Need a little DIY inspiration? Then check out this article from DIY & Crafts.
Let’s take a minute to talk about a few additional considerations.
- When tying your plant to its support, tie the plant firmly, but loose enough to leave a little wiggle room.
- Never use harsh or abrasive ties, such as metal or heavy twines. These can damage your plant. (You can save a few dollars by making your own ties from old t-shirts, nylons, and the like.)
- The plant support should be sturdy enough to hold up your plant as it matures.
- Make sure the support is unobtrusive or compliments your plant or garden design. In other words, you don’t want your support to detract from the beauty of the plant.
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