How to Stake Indoor Plants for Support

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How to Stake Indoor Plants for Support

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Staking up outdoor garden plants for support is a common activity, but staking is also a good idea for many indoor houseplants. In the confined space and rich potting mix of an indoor pot, houseplant plants often grow very quickly plants and develop weak, leggy stems. In these cases, it often 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 require staking—bougainvillea is one such plant. 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 four basic staking methods that should work for most houseplants.

Working Time: 5 to 15 minutes per plant

Total Time: 1 hour

Skill Level: Beginner

Material Cost: $5 to $15

When to Stake Up Plants

No matter what kind of stake you're using, it's best to place the stake when the plant is relatively young and is still actively searching for support. In fact, you can even position the stake or support in the pot at the same time you are planting the specimen. This method prevents the root damage that can occur if you drive stakes or supports through the roots of a well-established, mature plant.

Tools and Supplies You Will Need

The materials needed will vary depending on what support method you are using, but will generally include the following:

Stake or other plant supportStretchy plant ties

Before Getting Started

Instead of placing the stake in the center of the pot, it's a good idea to position the stake near one edge. 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 unrestrained.

Keep in mind that most climbing or vining staked plants will require occasional trimming. Examine individual plant profiles to see if your plant requires pruning.

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How to Support Plants With Simple Straight Stakes

The most basic form of staking, ideal for single-stemmed plants that are a little top-heavy, is to use simple straight stakes. Examples include flowering plants or those that have outgrown their stems quickly.

This kind of staking involves driving a single stake, often a bamboo or vinyl-coated metal rod, into the potting mix, then simply tying the plant to the stake. Drive the stake as deep you can, since potting soil is a loose mixture that doesn't anchor stakes as firmly as does garden soil.

When you're tying the plant off, be careful not to tie it 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 strips of nylon or special plant ties.

How to Support Plants With Wire Loops

An effective and less visible plant support can be made by using a piece of heavy-gauge wire, such as a wire coat hanger, bent into a loop with the ends embedded in the container’s potting mix. Garden centers and online retailers sell green vinyl-coated wire that is ideal for this use. Wire loops are perfect for plants that are creepers or which need to be trained to their shape. A good example indoors is jasmine, which grows with long branches that flower profusely but cannot support their weight.

Insert both ends of the wire 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 sculptural hoop-shaped planting.

How to Support Plants With Cages

Multi-stemmed plants that are top-heavy with blooms or foliage often require a different type of support offered by some form of cage. There are several ways to accomplish this kind of staking. You can use a simple purchased wire cage that surrounds the plant, or you can use several stakes with twine strung between them to form a support system. Or, you can use wires to create intersecting loops that form an informal cage for your plant.

In these cases, it's often not necessary to tie the plant to the support itself because the cage itself will support the plant's weight. Instead, make sure the plant has room to spread out within the cage.

How to Support Plants With Moss Poles

This is the most complicated kind of staking and is best for climbers that need support to grip onto. 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.

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