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Warm Fall Nights in San Francisco

Creative Plant Staking

The usual instructions about staking plants refer to tying the plants to stakes to keep them from falling over. We might stake a gladious or a foxglove so it won't lean, for example. I do this, but I have been noticing how often I stake a plant for other reasons.

Yesterday I staked a little annual bush morning glory (Convolvulus tricolor) to keep the wind from blowing it over and breaking it. It is in a container, and consists of about 5 branches that start near the ground. In a strong wind, it was waving back and forth, threatening to break.

Today I staked a fuchsia-flowered gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) to keep one of its thorny branches from reaching into the path and stabbing somebodies knees. Actually it was the second time I had staked that branch back. I often stake once, and then, in a couple of weeks, restake, with more pressure than the first time. The plant might break if you do it all at once, but in two stages, you can do it.

Last week I staked a viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare 'Blue Bedder') to keep it from leaning onto a wee viola. I am always ready to referee between competing plants this way, staking one out of the way of another.

And all summer, I have been staking rose canes to make them take a better direction--for example, not reaching out over a lawn, not growing against another cane, not reaching into the neighboring rose. These are often twice-staking operations, since rose canes are rather stiff, and I don't want to break them. But by staking them sort of in the right direction once, then pulling the stake and resetting it to apply more pressure, I have gotten 5 poorly directed canes to straighen up and fly right.

Other gardeners must do this stuff, but you never read about it. Readers, have you been doing any creative plant staking lately?


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chuck b.

You've seen it in the cloud forest at Strybing. They've got several and that's where I bought mine. Annie's Annuals sells it now too.


Yes, these all are among the many kinds of staking I do too.

But now I am wondering what a Bartlettina sordida might be. A new one to me.

chuck b.

Oh yes. Much staking goes on in my garden.

I staked Bartlettina sordida to a post holding up my deck, under which the plant grows. I planted it Aug 05 from a one gallon pot, but it's over 10 feet tall now and still slightly succulent. Eventually the trunk hardens up and I can do some pruning to get the offending branch out of the airspace of the garden pathway. I only needed it to move about three inches to do the trick. The big leaves hide the twine I used to stake the plant to the post.

Also staked to the deck: Dahlia imperialis. This one you're advised to stake so it doesn't blow over before it flowers. I used twine, but also wrapped a kitchen rag around the twine to prevent it from scratching the trunk.

Sambucus mexicana. This one's going to be a challenge, but I am determined. A young plant (only a few months old) and a fast grower, it resists all my efforts at staking it, and I've concluded staking it is inadvisable at this point. Instead, I'm taking a page from the grape growers and letting it flop on the ground for a year before I begin a regime of hard pruning to get the strong vertical growth I need this plant to have in my small garden. S. mexicana a poor choice for a small garden? Well, there's no changing my mind. I examine this plant every day for bud growth; I see some that may produce the vertical shoots I need. Its growth has already slowed down for the year, so I'm waiting until next spring before I do anything more with this plant.

I have a young Garrya elliptica staked for wind protection. I may have chosen a bad specimen when I bought this plant. It came from a cutting and it's kind of leggy for a Garrya. It's sending out new growth from low down on the trunk, almost near the crown, so that may eventually help stabilize the plant in the long-term. In a wait-and-see pattern with this plant too.

Abuliton has very idiosyncratic growth habits. Usually bushy, but I've also seen it pruned into tree-like forms, which is what I'm attempting. I have a multi-trunk specimen and I want one of the trunks to lean out from the other two so I've staked it apart to help promote a more open form. If it doesn't work, I'll just cut one trunk off and fill the space with something else. I'm not too worried about it.


I staked a fuchsia (the one you ID'd in the Chron, in fact) to itself so I could dig a trench next to it. Does that count?

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