Provide support for your plants

With the recent heavy rain storms in our area, did your trumpet lily topple, snapdragons snap, or tomatoes take a tumble? Don’t abandon your plants to the elements.

Plants that are exposed to windy conditions or newer plants that do not have a well established root system are susceptible to falling over. Providing support allows your plants to grow at their best and there are several options/methods of staking available.

Although spring is the best time to stake plants, it is still not too late to provide some type of protective support. Single stems, such as lilies or delphiniums, may be staked with bamboo, or better yet, use green plastic-coated metal stakes, or iron rods, as these will not rot as wood does. Try to disguise support structures used, as to prevent them from taking away the beauty of your plants.

Cages or mesh grids may be used for multi-stemmed, bushy plants, such as peonies that may lodge or fall over from the weight of their heavy blooms. An attractive alternative is to create a twig support teepee tied together with twine.

When driving stakes into the ground, be careful not to damage plant roots or bulbs. Staking shortly after transplanting allows you to leave enough room between the stake and the root system to prevent damage.

To tie stems to stakes, use a soft, flexible material such as twine, foam cord, or even old panty hose, to avoid cutting into stems and harming the soft tissue. Attach ties tightly around the stake and loosely around the plant. Make a twist in the tie between the plant and the stake so the stem does not come in direct contact with the stake.

To prevent plants from sliding down the stake, secure ties with a knot just below a branch so that the plant cannot slip. Remember to collect tie materials used at the end of the season, to prevent finding pieces of panty hose or other non-organic tie materials in your garden in the years to come.

Heavy rains have your gladiolus laying flat in the garden? Glads may be rescued by some fast action. Carefully lift the glad by the stem to an upright position and gently tamp down the mud at the stem base to return the spike to standing pose.

Did you know? An excellent way to get new gardening ideas is by attending a garden tour or to visit other gardens. The Fort Dodge Federated Garden Club will be holding their thirteenth annual garden tour on Saturday, July 5th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Tickets for the tour are available at Becker Garden Center in Fort Dodge or at the first garden on the tour at 2713 21st Ave. North. Proceeds go towards horticulture scholarships.

For further information on staking plants or other gardening questions, contact Yvonne McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu