How to stake and support plants

Some plants require more support than others. Learn how to stake and support plants.

Credit: Terry Guscott

Some plants require more support than others.

Heavy producers, such as tomatoes, require staking to help support their bountiful loads of fruit. Beautiful big bloomers, such as peonies, require care to keep the heavy flowerheads from toppling over and breaking the stems, particularly during spring showers. And young trees benefit from staking, especially in windy or high-traffic areas.

Extra support prevents undue movement and allowing it to develop a strong taproot, creating a well-anchored tree.

You can purchase pre-made stakes of cedar or bamboo, galvanized metal cages or plastic-coated rings. The most important part is how you attach the plant to the support. Always use proper staking material, and apply it gently so as to not tear, rip or scar the plant stem. The ties should be flexible and slightly loose to allow the plant room to grow.

Highly recommended are plastic plant clips, natural jute and Velcro tape. The plastic plant clips are easy to use; simply clip them around the plant and the stake. These are ideal for peppers and tomatoes, as they accommodate the plant as the stalk thickens.

Natural jute is great for staking trees. After setting in the stake, wrap the tree and stake using the jute. After a year’s growth, remove and compost the jute. A favourite of gardeners is reusable Velcro. The beauty of this is that you can readjust the tie as the plant grows.

It’s really important that young trees can move in the wind – it’s been proven to cause them to develop stronger wood. If they can’t move, they become very weak. The trick is to use two stakes about 20 cm (8 in.) out from the trunk on opposite sides (that makes the two stakes about 40 cm/16 in. apart.) A soft material can then be made into a loose “figure 8” that will keep the tree between the two stakes but the tree can still move with the wind.