When your beautiful hollyhock and foxgloves start to flop from summer rains, there’s nothing you can do will stop it. Multi-stalk perennials literally fall apart, stems flopping in every direction to expose the ugly bare center.
By this time of year they’re at their best, then fail overnight at the peak of their beauty. Part of this is related to new bigger-flower hybrids. The original plant stems don’t grow proportionately strong to support the larger bloom heads. I’ve used traditional bamboo stake and ties that not only look icky, they tend to flop themselves when the soil is to wet for anchorage. For multi-stalk bloomers there are too many stems to stake and too often they get tied up with twine in an ugly bundle that destroys their naturally elegant form.
After thirty years in horticulture I’ve come to the conclusion that flower supports are the only way to stake perennial blooms.
So what’s a flower support and why is it better? First of all you set them up in the spring as the perennials are starting to sprout from their dormant roots. It actually grows into this green wire framework that quickly disappears into the foliage. A little flash video shows how this works at the Gardeners Supply web site (see Cool Links). They carry a full line of these handy supports.
Use this style for peonies and other busy perennials.
This source offers a half dozen different types of flower support structures, each designed for a different type of plant.
Buy your flower supports now so you can match your plants to the right kind of structure. You’ll want them on hand in early spring when the first sprouts show – that’s the time to put the supports in place.