How to - Techniques

Three ideas for plant supports

Karen York
Photography by
Emilie Simpson (illustrations)

From stakes to obelisks, prevent your plants from toppling and flopping

To look their best, many plants benefit from some kind of support system. Here are three ways to prevent toppling, flopping and middle-aged spread.


Twiggy branches trimmed from shrubs and trees make effective, discreet and pleasingly rustic plant supports. Traditionally called pea sticks or pea stakes because they were (and still are) used to grow peas on, the branches should be stiff but not brittle. Trim the branches to length, allowing a little more than the ultimate height of the plant.

If you have heavy soil, sharpen the bottom ends with a knife. Push the branches firmly into the ground, angling them slightly inward, around the perimeter of the plant. The plant’s stems will grow through the framework, eventually hiding it. With installations on taller, more robust plants, try pulling the twiggy ends across the top and tying them together to create an overturned-basket effect. This will be stronger and less likely to lean drunkenly.

Additional twigs can easily be added if the plant outgrows the initial support structure. Cherry, birch, privet, hazel and shrubby dogwoods are great sources of twiggy branches but any sturdy sticks will do.

Plants for twiggy supports



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