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Following on from my guide on how to grow and care for delphiniums, something that is often overlooked until it’s too late is that delphiniums and peonies are tall plants, growing to about 2m in height. They need staking to prevent them from toppling over if they become top heavy. This also prevents them from bending and even breaking in medium to strong winds and rains. You have several options as to how to stake your plants.
Height of stakes
You need to stake delphiniums and peonies need to be staked in the spring when growth starts. This avoids having to drive the stakes into the ground when the plant is in its growth stage, potentially harming the stems and roots.
Your choice now is whether to create a tall stake for the mature height of the plant or make a shorter one and add to it as the plant grows. The first option leaves you with a height of empty stake until the plant grows up into it; the second option means you have to keep tying on more stakes to the first ones you use but the plant will hide the stakes at all times. It’s all about the visual appearance you want your delphinium or peony beds to have.
How not to stake your delphinium
Delphiniums have fairly delicate stems. You don’t want to use harsh cord to tie the stem to a stake. This could cut into the stalk and damage the plant. If you do use ties – for example, if you have a single plant and one stake – then make sure to use soft ties and tie them loosely around the stem and the stake as I do with my delphiniums as shown above.
The simplest way to stake your delphinium or peony
The easiest way to stake delphiniums or any tall plant is to place three bamboo canes around the plants. Thread the string around and between the stakes to create a kind of spiders web inside the area. As the plants grow, they find their way through the openings which support them. You need to create this web up to the expected height of the plant – 1m to 2m is best – but you can wait to do this until the plant grows to these heights. This method supports several plants at once.
Do you have issues with your delphiniums might not flowering, perhaps lots of foliage but not flowers, check out this guide to learn why your delphiniums might not be flowering?
Creating a cage support
You can create a cage support for each plant for the best growing structure. Place bamboo canes around each plant, spaced apart. Weave string in and out of the canes, moving it up their length. Stop just below the top of the plant. The delphinium or peony grows up within the centre of the cage. Add more weaving as the plant grows. The cage becomes hidden as the plants mature.
Note that you should use bamboo canes that are at least as tall as you expect the plant to grow. Though, having placed the stakes at the beginning of the growing season, you could just replace them with taller ones, but in the same hole.
Buying a support frame
Bamboo or metal cage supports are available at nurseries and garden centres. They’re usually used for growing tomatoes or other tall vegetables. As the stems grow, they pass through the circular hoops which support them. They make good cages for delphiniums and peonies – and the cages often come in a variety of colours. I actually use these on my peonies as shown in the picture above in my own garden.
The least obtrusive method to stake delphiniums
Maybe you don’t like the idea of a cage or woven string blocking the view of your flowers and plants as they grow. In this case, you still need to use bamboo or other canes to support your plants. But you can use soft ties to ties each stem to the stakes around each plant. Repeat the ties higher and higher up the plant as it grows. If you use stakes that are just the height of the plant, carefully replace them as the plant grows. The plant’s foliage and blooms hide both the stakes and the ties from view.