Supporting Summer-Flowering Perennials

At this time of year, mid to late-summer flowering herbaceous perennials are putting on lots of growth, getting ready to show off their blooms – It’s an exciting time in the garden. However, as established and strong as these perennials appear while they fill up your flowerbeds with lush green leaves, they are likely to need a bit of support as they start to flower. All too often, the weight of the open flowers will drag the flower stems down and sometimes even break off under their own weight. Sometimes flowers will start to lean to one side, usually towards the light if they are in a part-shaded area of the garden. Heavy and prolonged periods of heavy rain can also make perennials sprawl out in all directions, which can look quite unsightly or risk damage to the plant.

If you didn’t get the chance to put in supports earlier in the season, now is a good time to do it. You can buy all manner of decorative plant supports from garden centres, or create your own supports to give your borders extra interest:

Decorative Support

Rosa 'Moonlight' with Delphinium 'Galahad' - © GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski

Rosa ‘Moonlight’ with Delphinium ‘Galahad’ – © GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski

The bronze, rusty metal of these tall cage-like frames make the white, flowering Delphiniums sparkle even more. As the Delphiniums grow, the cage will provide a steady support to keep the flower spikes upright.

Invisible Support

Hoop plant support around Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Hoop plant support around Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

This clever plant support is best installed while the plant is still young and low to the ground. As the Dahlia grows through the gaps in the frame, its leaves will gradually cover the metal, and the plant will appear upright in habit, with invisible support.

Economical Support

Staking perennial plants with cat's cradle of string and sticks - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Staking perennial plants with cat’s cradle of string and sticks – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Buying a support for each plant as your borders fill up could prove costly. However, you can create effective and low-cost supports yourself with strong jute string and wooden stakes. First, hammer the stakes in around the plant you would like to support, and then wind the string around the stakes in a cat’s cradle fashion so the plant will be supported internally as it continues to grow.

Floral Support

Woman tying Dahlias to canes for support - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Woman tying Dahlias to canes for support – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Don’t hesitate to apply support as and when it is needed. While thinking about how to stake and support your plants earlier in the season can save you work later on, there are quick fixes. Here a woman is tying her tall growing Dahlias to canes so the flowers don’t break under their own weight.

Ornate Support

Hazel plant supports for Euphorbia wallichii in Spring, in the herbaceous border at RHS Wisley - © GAP Photos/Fiona McLeod

Hazel plant supports for Euphorbia wallichii in Spring, in the herbaceous border at RHS Wisley – © GAP Photos/Fiona McLeod

Woven hazel frames might take a bit of manipulation and work to create, but they are practical, environmentally friendly and provide a natural and decorative touch to a frosty, sparse winter border. Here, a woven hazel frame will eventually provide support to the Euphorbia growing below it.