Does anyone know of a creative way to support perennials? Something that looks better than the typical wire frame?
once i quit fertilizing all my plants.. they quit flopping over
you might want to think about that.. to avoid the whole situation from the start ...
otherwise.. i let them flop.. and declare my garden 'natural' ... you might be surprised at how easy this theory is.. lol ...
and how interesting it makes your garden ...
What are you growing that needs support? I have an immense garden and don't need to support anything.
I use wire peony hoops for double peonies and the Baptisias that are no longer in enough sun, but I time when I place them so that they are covered within a week or so of when they are put in. I use a variety of ornamental iron work to support vines such as clematis, and this could be used for some perennials as well. Some folks use forked sticks which like the wire will get covered with foliage. Some things I have given enough room to that when they flop, they function like a ground cover, such as catmint. Others I have planted near enough to a stiff-branched shrub so that they just lean a bit rather than flop. Mostly, though I try to choose plants that won't flop, either due to the variety or by giving them the growing conditions to prevent it.
Last year I started using the low wire decorative fencing you use at the edges of borders to keep pets out, make it more decorative, etc.....I got it at KMart and it was nice and thin black wire and about 18" tall. Held up all different clumps of perennials and blended right in. I was able to separate the sections if I was working on a small clump or keep three or four sections if I needed to surround a huge clump. It is absolutely the only way I'll "stake" perennials in the future. No more stakes and twine, etc.......
These amsonia were flopping onto the driveway and I used the wire fencing to hold them up.
For some reason my picasa album won't give me a link to post a pic that I took of it specifically for this post. Hopefully the link below will take you to the photo.
Here is a link that might be useful: Wire fence support
Someone on GardenWeb gave me a wonderful idea and I wish I remembered who so I could give credit. Just pound sticks into the ground around your perennial and weave jute twine in and around the sticks to form a grid. Looks natural and easy to remove in the fall!!!!!! Ingenious and CHEAP.
So whoever the idea person is, stand up - tell us who you are - and take a bow.
I've used different lengths of rebar at the back of plants with whatever length of wire needed twisted around the rebar hooking the ends of the wire, encircle the plant and hook the ends together. I've also made movable wire hoops for the rebar, move them up or down, held in place with a clothes peg. On the whole they're hidden from sight when the plants bush out. If you have access to twiggy branches, this has also worked for me in some instances.
I find that if I use an appropriate size wire grid, it is hidden in no time. I keep small, med and large on hand. I would rather take a stab at it early in the season and add supports, than angst later when it is too late to do much about it. I used to keep a log/spreadsheet on which perennials needed it or not. Some years I would try skipping and make a note later on if I regretted it or not.
I also had some really cool "Y" style supports that could be added later on if needed. The bottom of the Y was brown and very discreet, and the two top branches could be bent and shaped as needed.
Bed maturity helps too. As they get fuller and older, they stand on their own much better. By the time I built up a huge collection of various supports, I didn't need them so much.
Maybe you can use branches that you cut. They are green for a while, then the leaves die and fall (adding to your organic matter in that area). But then they also get filled up up covered by the new growth of plants.
Pea sticks will work. Free and compostable at the end of the season. But you need to put them in before the plant grows very much in early spring.
In general, grown on the lean and mean, most perennials are self-sufficient. There'll always be that one that's like Uncle Elmo, and tends to stagger.
Floppy usually means too many nutrients, too much water (maybe), and too much shade
Lots of good advice above.
Obviously depends on the types, extended by variety, of perennials used, plus the style of perennial gardening.
Personally, I like neat closely planted and continuously maintained perennial beds. Our own are in a relatively small garden.
In this case, find there's no way round using lots of stakes after spring.
I recently converted to the green plastic covered metal stakes, which seem so less conspicuous than the bamboo ones. Find the latter don't last more than about three years. Had already switched to green twine.
Below: August 5, 2013.
Must be a few stakes here, but there's still that twine around the Echinacea!
There are some things in my garden that demand staking. A massive persicaria polymorpha (6ft x 5ft) requires 4 6 ft rebar pounded in strategic spots and twine worked around and through the plant. I also use shorter rebar to support baptisa, liatris, and yellow species lillies Large clumps of geraminium Brookside and variegated obedient plant are terrible floppers and I use pea stakes to support these. ,
Some things you can also cut back to prevent flopping. I vowed to do this last year with my Echinaceas, which were very floppy in previous years. I cut them back pretty aggressively right around the time they were getting buds, I think. Delayed flowering but they stood up very straight! Going to try to remember to do that again this year.
Lots of good, diverse suggestions. Much depends on the plants you are growing as well as what steps you are willing and able to take. The "look" you are aiming for also matters.
For example, you might use an interesting chunk of log or driftwood in the foreground to both brace up the floppers behind it as well as a interest piece.
Pinching or cutting back plants like mums early in the summer will make for thicker, sturdier growth.
There are hoops with a grid of bars crisscrossing them that can be used to spread out and support plant stems as the plant goes through them.
I stake about 8 Peonies every spring. The 4 oldest Peonies in the front garden are staked with large 18 inch rings with the grids. When they're about 1 foot high I sit and tediously guide the Peonies stalks throughout the grid. As they grow up you don't see the rings any more and they do work well to keep them upright, but the flowers still flop if we get some rain!
I use smaller peonies rings to support other floppy perennials, for example a large floppy New England Aster or Echinacea. I also have 3 sizes of green coated wire stakes with the loop at the top for things like Iris stalks that gets blown over in a strong wind. These are not very noticable either.
Over-fertlization may be one reason that plants flop, but also sometimes if the soil is too rich, there isn't enough sun, or too much rain or watering.
Here's a pic of 3 of the big peonies from last June. You don't notice the stakes.