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How to stake houseplants

Unobtrusive Staking for Houseplants

The discrete staking on this dieffenbachia is hardly visible at all.

In a perfect indoor gardening world, you wouldn’t need to stake a non-climbing plant. Its branches would be thick and solid, perfectly capable of holding the plant up, even when it’s loaded down with leaves, flowers, and fruit. In reality, though, houseplants are prone to weak growth. Their stems often stretch for the light source, and the abnormally long distance between each leaf node means that they’re less rigid than plants growing outdoors under brighter conditions.

Also, believe it nor not, moving in the wind actually strengthens the stems of plants that grow in the garden. Indoor plants rarely feel any wind at all and consequently, don’t develop stems as strong as they normally would.

Prune Before You Stake

This staked dieffenbachia would look better if it was pruned back severely.

Pruning and pinching are alternatives to staking. If you prune a plant carefully, removing weak and excessively long stems, the plant likely won’t require staking. When a stem starts to bend over, decide whether the plant wouldn’t be more attractive without that weak branch and, if so, prune it off rather than stake it.

Avoid Fertilizing When Light is Low

It’s best to avoid fertilizing houseplants when the days are short (late October through late February or early March) in the Northern Hemisphere. This tends to stimulate etiolation: long, wispy stems that may well need staking.

The Famous Quarter Turn

This plant is growing towards the light: it would be more attractive if given a regular quarter turn.

Everyone has heard that you should give a windowsill plant a weekly quarter turn (always in the same direction) so that it will receive light from all directions… but not so many people actually do it. If you carry this out, though, you’ll find your plant much more symmetrical and less in need of staking.

Making Staking Less Visible

OK, so you’ve tried your best and your houseplant does need staking. If so, try to make the stake as unobtrusive as possible because there’s nothing pretty about a plant wearing a splint. Try the following suggestions:

  • Insert stakes near the center of the plant, hidden among the leaves and branches.
  • Always use a stake that will be at least slightly shorter than the plant itself.
  • Consider using the plant itself as a support. You can do this by attaching a weak branch to a stronger neighbor.
  • If you need to stake several branches, use individual stakes for each branch. A web of string and ties wrapped around a single stake and tied to several branches adds up to one messy eyesore.
  • Avoid brightly colored stakes. Dead branches brought in from the garden, green-tinted bamboo, olive-green plant stakes, and so on, work like camouflage. Or, wrap a colored stake in green florist tape.

Green staking tape is fairly discrete.

Avoid highly visible fasteners. Green twist ties, green or natural-colored raffia, garden twine, and soft plastic plant ties in off-green shades make good choices.

  • Try to re-create the plant’s natural growth pattern when you attach the branches to stakes. Avoid bunching stems together or cramming flower heads up against each other.
  • Surround weak-stemmed plants with solid neighbors. If they can lean just a bit, they’ll likely stay standing.
  • The information in this blog was largely derived from one of my books, Houseplants for Dummies. This is only one of several books on houseplants I have written over the years. I encourage you to read one.

    Posts about How to stake houseplants written by Laidback Gardener

    Staking Indoor Plants for Support

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Staking up indoor plants is not uncommon at all. Outdoors in their natural habitats, plants are subjected to wind and competition from other plants, both of which encourages them to grow quickly as well as develop sturdy support structures. Indoors where there is rarely wind, plants often outgrow their support system and will 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 require staking even outside if they are to be grown as upright plants.   Bougainvillea is one such plant. Still, 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 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 nylons or special plant ties.

    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 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 sculptural hoop-shaped support.

    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 you can use several stakes with twine 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, make sure the plant has room to spread out within the cage.

    Moss Pole

    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.

    When to Stake a Plant

    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 searching 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 occasional trimming. Examine individual plant profiles to see if your plant requires pruning.

    Staking up a houseplant will help them if they are rapidly growing or naturally top heavy. There are four good methods for various indoor plants. ]]>