Types Of Plant Support: How To Choose Flower Supports

A Blue Clematis vine hanging from a timber arbor
Image by Alex Stork

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

One of the most frustrating things as a gardener is when strong winds or heavy rains wreak havoc on our gardens. Tall plants and vines topple over and break in strong winds. Peonies and other perennials are pounded to the ground by heavy rains. Many times, after the damage is done, there is no fixing it, and you’re left kicking yourself for not supporting the plants earlier. Continue reading to learn about choosing garden plant supports.

Types of Plant Support

The type of plant support you will need depends on the type of plant you are supporting. Woody climbers, like climbing hydrangea or climbing roses, will need a much different support than perennial or annual climbers, like clematis, morning glory or black eyed susan vine. Bushy plants, like peony, will need a different type of support than tall- single stem plants like Asiatic or oriental lilies.

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Woody vines will be much heavier and need a strong structure to climb on, such as obelisks, trellises, arbors, pergolas, walls or fences. Structures for heavy vines should be made of strong materials like metal, wood or vinyl.

Smaller vines and vining veggies can be trained to climb up other supports, such as bamboo teepees, lattice, tomato cages or even just unique tree branches. Vintage ladders can also make unique supports for vines. I once used an old baker’s rack as a support for clematis and then placed potted annuals on the shelves. Finding unique plant supports for climbers can be fun as long as it is strong enough to hold the vine of your choosing.

How to Choose Flower Supports

When choosing garden plant supports, you must consider the growing habit of the plant. Support structures for tall plants will differ than supports for bushy lower growing plants. You can use single stem supports for tall plants like:

These single stem supports are usually just bamboo, wood or metal stakes or poles that the plant stem is tied to with twine or string (never use wire). Coated metal single stem supports are available at most garden centers. These are long metal stakes with a ring on top for the stem to grow through.

Adjustable grow through supports have a circular metal grid that sits horizontally on 3-4 legs. These are placed over young bushy plants like peonies. As the plant grows, its stems grow up through the grid, providing support throughout the plant. Vase-shaped plant supports are also used for plants like peonies along with:

These are available in various heights. Generally, as the plants grow through grid supports or vase supports, the foliage will hide the supports.

If your plant has already been beaten down by wind or rain, you can still try to support them. You can use stakes and tie them up. Half circle supports come in various heights to support top heavy, leaning plants. Linking stakes can also be used to prop fallen plants back up.

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