Most houseplants are perfectly fine without any stakes or support. But, the mild growing conditions indoors, where there’s no wind and rain to toughen branches and where plants often stretch toward their light source, can lead to weakened stalks.
Other houseplants, especially those with blooms, can become top-heavy, and still others, like most vining indoor plants, need to be directed and contained. In each of these cases, you might want to stake your houseplant to protect its branches from damage and to create a more attractive presentation. Here are some tips to get you started staking your houseplants:
1. Consider whether you need to stake your plant
If there are only a few branches that are weak, you might be better off pruning rather than staking. It will both open the plant up and make it more attractive. Pruning gives you a chance to shape a plant to fit its pot and setting, and get rid of damaged or sickly branches.
2. Choose the appropriate support for your plant
- A single stake along the main stem of a plant is appropriate for single stalk plants that get top-heavy.
- A cage support, like its larger outdoor cousin, the tomato cage, is great for multi-stemmed plants with heavy flowers or fruits.
- Vines can be trained with wire or mini-trellises. They can also be given a central stake or moss-covered pole to crawl up.
3. Place the plant stakes carefully
Whether you are inserting a central stake or a cage with prongs around the inner rim of the pot, you will want to push it gently into the dirt. Be careful not to nick the stem or tear at the roots.
4. Tie the plant loosely to the support
You can use bag ties, jute, florist wire, or even yarn to attach your plant to a stake. But make sure you leave plenty of room for the stem to grow without the tie cutting into its flesh. Secure larger plants at several points along the stem, and don’t put more than one branch in each loop.
5. Don’t forget the aesthetics
Just because a houseplant stake is functional doesn’t mean it also has to be ugly. Look to use natural or naturally colored material for your supports, like tree branches or bamboo. Cut your stake to a height below the top of the plant, so it doesn’t show. Get creative on cage supports and make the plant’s structure part of the design.
To turn staking up houseplants from a chore to an art, check out the ancient practice of growing bonsai. Bonsai gardeners use precise pruning, wire and other supports to shape their plants into stunning miniatures.