Toppling tall plants

Tips for topplers: dhalias, gladioli, lilies, hollyhocks and delphiniums.

Credit: Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

Don’t let your tall plants topple—take a cue from the Dutch with these homemade plant supports

Gravity can be a foe for tall pants, which often flop over, soiling their delicate blossoms in the dirt. Garden favourites with a tendency to topple include dahlias, gladioli, lilies, hollyhocks and delphiniums.

Store-bought plant supports are one solution, but the Dutch offer a tip with a bit more zip for keeping top-heavy plants upright: make homemade plant supports out of colourful fruit and vegetable cans. Sally Ferguson of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Center in New York suggests, “Look for canned goods with pretty labels. Best are painted ones. My favourites are Chinese lychee nuts and Italian olives and tomatoes.” Use a can opener to remove the top and bottom, leaving smooth edges, she says. Then poke a hole on one side of the can and slip a plastic-covered plant tie through. Secure the tie to a thick stick or bamboo plant stake in such a way that you can slide the can up or down the stake as needed. In use, you’ll stick the stake into the ground next to a young plant candidate, guiding the shoot through the can.

As the stem grows taller, slide the can upward to provide continuing support. For more tips on bulbs, go to the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center at