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Staking Up Plants—How to Stake Up Houseplants

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Staking up indoor plants is not uncommon at all. Outdoors in their natural habitats, plants are subjected to wind and competition from other plants, which encourages them to grow quickly as well as develop sturdy support structures. Indoors, where there is rarely "wind," plants often outgrow their own support system and develop weak stems. In these cases, it may become necessary to stake up your plants.

Rapid growth isn't the only reason for staking up indoor houseplants. Some plants are naturally top-heavy and would require staking even outside, if they are to be grown as upright plants. Bougainvillea is one such plant. Sitll other plants are natural climbers and need to be supported to grow properly. Many of the most beautiful species of philodendron are included in this group, as well as ivy, jasmine, and tropical plants such as monstera.

How you should stake your plants depends on the type of plant you're growing. Here are some basic staking methods that should work for most houseplants:

  • Simple straight stake. This is the most basic form of staking and is ideal for single-stemmed plants that are a little top-heavy. Examples include flowering plants or those that have outgrown their stems quickly. This kind of staking involves a single stake, often a bamboo rod, pushed into the soil and simply tying the plant to the stake. When you're tying the plant off, be careful not to tie is too tight. This can cause injury as the plant grows and the tie cuts into the plant's stem. To prevent this, use a stretchy tie, such as nylons or special plant ties.
  • A wire or shaped support. This is perfect for plants that need to be trained to their shape or are creepers. A good example indoors is jasmine, which grows with long branches that flower profusely but cannot support their own weight. This kind of staking is easily accomplished with a simple piece of wire, or even a wire coat hanger than been twisted into a loop. Insert both ends into the soil and loosely tie the plant to the wire support as it grows. This has the added advantage of creating a lovely and sculputral hoop-shaped support.
  • A cage support. This is ideal for multi-stemmed plants that are top heavy with blooms or foliage, but cannot support themselves. There are several ways to accomplish this kind of staking. You can use a simple wire cage that surrounds the plant, or alternatively, you can use several stakes with twin strung between them to form a support system. In these cases, it's often not necessary to tie the plant to the support itself because the cage will support the plant's weight. instead, the make sure the plant has room to spread out within the cage.
  • A moss pole. This is the most complicated kind of staking and is best for climbers that need a support to grip into. Examples include golden pothos vines, monstera, and climbing philodendron. A climbing pole can be made by filling a narrow wire tube with damp sphagnum moss and tying the plant to the pole until it latches on by itself. Alternatively, some garden centers and specialty craft stores sell special climbing polls made from fern bark or moss that are designed for climbing plants. These stakes can be invaluable to growing a climber, but be aware that it will take extra moisture to keep the pole moist and encourage the plant to latch onto the stake. This is especially true for poles that use sphagnum moss, which dries out quickly.

No matter what kind of stake you're using, it's best to place the stake when the plant it relatively young and is still actively searcing for support. Also, instead of placing the stake in the center of the pot, it's a good idea to position the stake near one edge of the pot. This will give the plant more room to grow and make it easier to display the plant with a "good" side, instead of letting the plant grow wild. Finally, most climbing or vining staked plants will require occassional trimming. Check out the indidivual plant profiles to see if your plant requires pruning.

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