How to Stake Plants

By: C. Colston Burrell

Some plants need just a little bit more support than the rest, either because of heavy clusters of flowers, slender stems, or a combination of both element. A few examples of these plants include snapdragons, asters, and zinnias. In order to grow and thrive, these special annuals will need to be staked using one of the various techniques highlighted in this article.

Yes, yes, we know. This sounds like a pain. Don't worry, if you think you don't want to be bothered with a lot of hassle. You're in luck because you have a couple of options: You can choose different plants, because the ones that need to be staked will droop or fall over and die. Or, you can take a few minutes to learn just how easy staking can be. If you're interested in the second option, here's a look at what you'll find in this article:


  • Staking Basics Learn helpful tips on the many different ways you can go about staking plants. This includes stake corrals, L-shaped metal staking, brush thicket staking, as well as single staking. There's sure to be a technique that will work best for you and for your plants.Stake corrals are made by wrapping string around the stakes that surround your leaning plant. The heavy plant will then lean against the string for support. If you are staking a tall plant, you may need to run several tiers of string across the corral to give it extra support. Stake corrals are relatively easy to make and are also relatively inexpensive. Another more expensive option are the L-shaped metal stakes, which are designed specifically to provide support to plants. They hook together to make whatever size you need. The good thing is that they can be reused year after year. L-shaped metal stakes are very easy to use.Brush thicket staking, also known as pea staking, relies upon nature to lend some support. All that is required with this staking technique is poking the stems of some of the well-branched brush into the ground next to the delicate plants. The stems will then lean against the brush for support. This technique works even better if the tops of the brush are interwoven.Finally, single staking involves using the stakes and string to provide a sturdy support directly to the stem of the drooping plant. All of the branches of the flower can then be tied to a single stake in the center of the plant. This method involves an intricate weaving of string and knots, but it works well with all kinds of plants.

Lend your plants the support they need by learning more about staking. Staking is an easy method to keep your most favorite annuals standing tall in your garden instead of drooping down in and falling over once they get too big. Trust us, your flowers will thrive, and you'll be glad you could help. Read on to learn the easy methods on the basics of how to stake plants.


Staking Basics

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. These flowers grow better if staked properly.

Most healthy annuals are sturdy and self-supporting. They often don't require any special staking to keep them looking good. However, plants with heavy flower clusters, especially those on tall, slender stems such as snapdragons and dahlias may flop over when exposed to strong winds or heavy rains.

Another group that sometimes requires support to keep their flower heads visible are those with stems that will either bend over or break off when the weight of their leaves and blooms becomes too great. Asters, baby's breath, salpiglossis, and some zinnias are known to have these problems.


There are a variety of ways to go about staking plants, including the following techniques.

Stake Corrals

Often plants gain enough support when a kind of corral is placed around them. The plant stems lean out against the metal or string sides of the corral instead of flopping down to the ground.

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. L-shaped metal stakes can be reused and reshaped year after year.

To make a stake corral, insert four or more stakes around the plant. Tie a string to the first stake, then wrap it one turn around each of the other stakes along the perimeter and back to the starter stake. For a large clump, run the string diagonally across within this corral for more support. Several tiers of string may be needed for tall plants -- space tiers 4 to 6 inches apart. Flower heads should float 4 to 6 inches above the top tier of string.

L-Shaped Metal Stakes

A more expensive, but easier to install, corral can be made from L-shaped metal stakes specially designed and sold for this purpose. They hook together quickly to make whatever size is needed. These can be used year after year once the initial investment is made. String can be diagonally cross-woven between these stakes if more support is needed.

Brush Thicket or Pea Staking

Another simple type of support consists of poking many-branched pieces of brush into the ground beside the plants. These form a network of twigs through which the plants can grow and against which they can lean for support. The tops of these branches can be bent over to form an even more interlaced network if needed.

To make this simple no-cost plant support, poke the stems of well-branched brush into the ground next to the young plants. The plants' stems will simply lean against the twigs for support without any tying. This brush thicket will give even more support if the tops are bent over and interwoven. Plant stems will grow up through the resulting tangle and hide it from view.

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. These plants are being supported by brush thicket.

Single Staking

Stake corrals and brush thicket or pea staking work well with plants that have a spreading growth habit. For those that produce tall, single spikes, the single staking method is more suitable.

To use this technique, poke a wooden or bamboo stake into the ground 2 to 3 inches from the plant stem. It should be pushed deeply enough into the soil to be solidly secure. Loosely tie each plant stem to this central stake every 6 inches along the stem's height. First tie the string around the stake with a half-granny knot, allowing an inch or more of slack between the stake and the plant stem. Then tie a full-granny knot around the stem.

As the plant grows taller, add ties further up on the stake 6 to 8 inches apart. The topmost tie should be located at the base of the flower spike. All of the branches can be tied to a single stake in the center of the plant.

Although tying plants seems a nuisance, it really only takes a few minutes to do and is only necessary for a few varieties. If those that need it aren't tied, however, they'll either bend over, becoming impossible to see, become mud covered, or snap off and die.

Either way, there's little sense in growing these kinds of plants if you aren't willing to stake them. Select easier care annuals instead. Or, if they happen to be your favorites, make up your mind to provide a little extra care that will make it possible for them to look their best.

©Publications International, Ltd.