Staking Perennials

I think I need some help with staking my perennials. My Shasta Daisies were planted last fall and now are so tall that they are falling over on to my patio. I tried tieing them, but after the rain, they still fell. I tried staking and tieing, but they don't look very nice all bunched together. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Doug says there are several reasons why perennials flop over. A lack of sunlight of full sunlovers will cause them to grow tall and floppy reaching for the sun. So if this plant isn't in full hot sun, move it there.

A second reason not often mentioned is that many perennials don't require a great deal of fertilizer so if you tend to feed your gardens well, the perennial flowers will grow like stink, get too tall and flop over. In my garden, I feed the garden compost in the spring or fall and that's about it. The decaying mulch and some compost provides all the food they need.

A third reason is that some varieties of plants are simply floppy. And can't be fixed. So you get to replace the perennial plant for something a bit more compact.

As for staking so it can't be seen. I'm a big fan of using old Christmas tree branches to hold up plants. You cut off the branches (the needles fall off) and you use this lacy framework as a stake when the plant is young. It will grow up around the stake and hide it with its foliage. This holds up the plant and disappears.

Another common thing to do with floppy types of perennials is to plant them next to more sturdy plants. Plant your Shasta Daisies next to Daylilies that will hold them up. Or next to roses or anything that stands up straight with little problem. A mutually supporting garden planting scheme. :-)

Right now - there's not much you can do once you've created the problem. :-( You can try to create a less visible stake and/or loosen the ties so it doesn't look like you're strangling the plant but not much else will "repair" this kind of damage. And given we're well into the season (end of July) it's pretty much too late to whack it to the ground or half-way back and expect it to do well or survive the winter. A limited pruning of the tops might make it bush out a bit but again - it's pretty much too late to do much with it for this year.

The trick to staking perennials then is to 1) treat the perennial properly so it doesn't get too tall and 2) use an appropriate or hidden type of staking right from the beginning.

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