Read about how to support plants to prevent wind damage. If you watched your plants moving in recent strong winds and wondered what to do, read on!

support plants

Plant windswept climbers beside or inside wigwams made of sturdy stakes or splash out on a purpose built shape – like this obelisk at Rosemoor RHS Garden, Devon.  Use soft string to loosely tie the loose stems to the structure as they grow. Sarah Buchanan.

Why support plants?

Strong winds can rock plants and loosen their roots so that they are less likely to thrive, and more likely to lean or fall over.

Winds can instantly wreck a plant bursting into flower and leave your beds and borders in a mess.

Cold, and strong, winds ‘burn’, dry and strip foliage. Stakes aren’t the only answer here. Horticultural fleece or wind resistant mesh wrapped firmly around the stakes will protect your prize plant. For more on this problem read our recent blog on preparing for winter.

Support young trees

Newly planted trees and large shrubs must be staked to ensure they create a good root network and become part of your garden for years to come. Hammer a sturdy stake, from 1.2 to 2m (4-6 ft) long depending on the eventual height of the tree, into the ground (ideally before you plant the tree). Pot grown fruit trees may need a permanent stake so buy a good one (e.g. chestnut). Tree stakes have a pointed end, making them easy to hammer into the ground. Some gardeners ‘plant’ tree stakes at a 45 degree angle to the tree trunk, others plant it vertically. In windy areas, and for fruit trees, I prefer vertical stakes. Use a tree-tie to attach the trunk to the stake. Over time, loosen the tie as the trunk grows.

support plants

Extra strength staking, here at Rosemoor RHS garden, may not be what your garden needs. But the RHS shows how to do it! Sarah Buchanan

How to support plants

Match the support to the plant, making sure that the support is firmly ‘planted’ so that it doesn't move with the wind. As a rule of thumb, supports should be about 2/3 or half the height of the plant's growth this year.

Medium sized bushy plants, such as perennial poppies, do well with a circle of twigs planted firmly around the base.

For plants with top heavy flowers, such as delphiniums, or upright growing shrubs push a firm cane into the ground beside each flowering or main stem. Use soft string to make a loose figure of eight that joins the canes, first half way up and then near the top. Over the spring check stems are inside the string.

Be ready to support plants with floppy leaves and flowers as they start spring growth. Push a ring of twigs in around the roots to hold leaves and flowers together.

Invest in purpose made support for plants

I am a fan of twigs and canes as DIY supports. Some plants (and gardens) deserve more. If you garden in a windy spot or love the sight of well shaped plants, purpose made support for plants saves time and looks good.

support plants

Support plants with purpose made supports that look good too, like this one at Rosemoor RHS Garden, Devon. Sarah Buchanan.

Ongoing care and attention

Cane in the ground rots. At this time of year remove canes, fill an old paint tin or bucket with wood preserver to the depth of the piece of cane in the ground and leave the canes to soak overnight – out of the wind so it doesn't topple over.

Twigs disintegrate. Collect more from wind blown branches and twigs near you.

Large purpose made supports are features in their own right. Smaller ones can be too, but link stakes are best taken up, cleaned (and straightened) ready to 'plant' in the spring.

support plants

Wire 'link' stakes create a shape around, and through a plant, that allows it to grow up through the support. They have a long life and are easy to use again and again. An alternative is a metal grid - same principle, looks different!  Sarah Buchanan.