Stop your tall garden flowers from flopping to the ground! Learn how to properly support plants like sunflowers, peonies, and dahlias using stakes, cages, trellises, and other creative solutions.

Tall garden flowers are a beautiful addition to any garden adding lots of height, structure, color, and texture, but they often face challenges from strong winds and heavy rains. Without proper support, these plants can easily topple over resulting in damage and a less appealing garden.

And we don’t want that!

In this article, we’re chatting about the benefits of supporting tall garden flowers, the top five methods to keep them standing tall, some DIY plant support ideas, and detailed support methods for specific types of flowers.

You ready? Let’s grow!

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There is nothing worse than taking the time to plant flowers, watch them grow, bloom, and then flop over to the ground after a bad wind or thunderstorm, am I right?

Sometimes we don’t even realize just how much weather and the weight of blooms can greatly impact flower performance. We often learn from experience; but we can also glean experience from others. So today, I’m sharing some of my plant supporting wisdom with you.

Because I’ve done things in a smart, strategic way and made some mistakes along the way mainly because I didn’t understand how different flower varieties grew.

It’s interesting because some varieties of flowers need support, and others don’t. For example, black eyed susans. In my former garden, I never supported the flowers. But since moving here? We have a variety (I’m not sure what it is) that flops over and blocks the pathway to the front porch every fall after one heavy rainfall. So I learned from experience those blooms needed some help to look better during the growing season.

As we move through the different ways to support tall flowers, I’ll share some experiences that will help you keep your garden blooms upright.

A vibrant garden showcases large, blooming orange dahlias with layered petals. Growing dahlias surrounded by green foliage and set against a backdrop of trees stand tall and radiant, adding lively color to the serene, natural environment. This variety is dahlia 'penhill watermelon.
‘Penhill Watermelon’ Dahila flowers

How Supporting Tall Flowers Benefits Your Garden

Supporting your tall garden flowers is a game-changer! Not only does it prevent them from toppling over in wind or rain, but it also helps them grow tall and strong, just like they’re supposed to. Plus, good support means better air circulation between plants which helps keep pests and diseases at bay.

And let’s not forget how gorgeous a well-supported garden looks! Tall flowers become eye-catching centerpieces, while climbers add height and a touch of whimsy. It’s a win-win for everyone. Your tall flowers get the support they need and their neighbors get more sunlight.

Supporting your flowers also makes gardening a breeze. Pruning, deadheading, and harvesting become so much easier when everything is standing tall and within reach. And as a bonus, your blooms will stick around longer, giving you more time to enjoy their beauty.

A vibrant sunflower with a large, orange-yellow bloom stands tall against a blurred green background. Two bees are collecting nectar from its center, highlighting the flower's natural beauty and the symbiotic relationship with pollinators. Learn how to support tall flowers in your garden effortlessly with support strategies

Stop Your Flowers from Flopping: Easy Support Solutions for Every Garden

With a few simple support techniques, you can keep your tall flowers standing tall and proud all season long. Whether you’re dealing with top-heavy blooms, leggy stems, or climbers reaching for the sky, there’s an easy support solution that’s perfect for your plants. Let’s chat about the world of flower support and learn the different ways to support garden flowers.

Staking 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to Supporting Individual Flowers

Staking is probably the most straightforward method for supporting individual plants. This technique involves driving a sturdy stake, typically made of wood or metal, about 3-4 feet into the ground when the plant is around a foot tall.

As the plant grows, gently tie the stems to the stake using garden twine or soft ties, ensuring the ties are loose enough to allow for growth but secure enough to provide support. This method is particularly effective for plants like sunflowers and dahlias which are prone to toppling due to their heavy blooms.

Three sunflower at various heights with large green leaves, standing along a paved path amidst lush greenery. Discover ways to support tall flowers like sunflowers with staking.
Sunflowers

Corral Your Blooms: A Simple Solution for Group Support

When you have a group of tall flowers in a garden bed, corralling is a great option for supporting the blooms. This method involves using supports to create a barrier around the plants which encourages them to grow vertically, prevent flopping, and maintain a tidy and aesthetically pleasing garden.

To create a corral, drive stakes into the ground at each corner or section of the bed. Depending on the size of your garden flowers, they should be about four feet-ish above the ground. Then, you run string or twine around the perimeter of the stakes.

This creates a supportive barrier that keeps the plants contained and upright. It works well for flowers like coneflowers and hollyhocks that benefit from having a structure to lean against. I used this method last year for my rudbeckia near the front porch and it worked incredibly well to keep them from flopping over onto the pathway.

A vibrant garden in front of a house with tall yellow flowers, pink blooming shrubs, and a hint of a stone pathway leading to a white door, surrounded by lush greenery. rudbeckia, sedum autumn joy and gomphrena flowers. Black eyed susans are supported with corraling method

Netting: The Secret Weapon for Supporting Branching Blooms

Netting is a useful technique for plants with many branching stems, such as cosmos, snapdragons, celosia, and strawflowers.

To use this method, drive stakes into the ground at each corner and around the perimeter of the garden bed. Then, you stretch mesh or plastic netting horizontally about 18 inches above the ground. As the plants grow through the netting, it provides support for the stems and prevents them from flopping over.

Netting is particularly effective in windy conditions because it helps to distribute the pressure evenly across the plants. I use netting in my cut flower garden located in the potager as it helps keep the blooms more upright.

Last year, I used one layer of netting thinking I would slowly raise the net to support the blooms. But that was a lot of work and wasn’t effective as different types of flowers grew at different rates. I discovered that adding a second layer would help keep taller dahlias and strawflowers from leaning over much better.

Lush garden beds filled with a stunning variety of larkspur, calendula, and snapdragons in shades of purple, pink, and yellow, complemented by green foliage and a whimsical out-of-focus terracotta pot in the background. How to support tall flowers with netting method.

Trellising 101: How to Guide Your Climbers to New Heights

Trellising is ideal for climbers and fast-growing plants like sweet peas, roses, hydrangeas, and clematis. This method involves setting up a trellis, which can be made from wooden or metal posts.

As plants grow, you can train their vines to climb the trellis by securing them with garden twine. This not only supports the plants but also adds vertical interest to your garden. Trellises are particularly useful for creating a stunning visual display with climbing plants.

You can even use fencing to help your plants climb. I planted my sweet peas and clematis along several garden fences here and help train them up with twine.

But don’t stop there! You can even plant a climber like clematis at the base of a shrub so they vine up and bloom between the branches. I’m testing it out here with ‘Josephine’ clematis and some arrowwood viburnums.

A sweet pea flower clinging to a green garden trellis, its pink and white petals speckled with raindrops, demonstrating the beauty of fresh cut flowers even on a rainy day - sweet pea streamers chocolate
Sweet Pea ‘Streamers Chocolate’ Flowers

Cages, Grow-Through Supports & More: Beyond the Stake

Cages and grow-through supports are perfect for top-heavy flowers such as peonies and dahlias. To use this method, place a cage or grow-through support over the plant while it is still small. As the plant grows, it will be contained within the structure and prevent it from flopping over.

Tomato cages can be repurposed for this use, and they work especially well for dahlias in pots and other similar plants. This method ensures that even the heaviest blooms remain upright and healthy.

I like to use these grow-through supports because they have grids instead of open centers. They offer a bit more support and work really well with my peonies and dahlias.

Lush peonies with soft pink and white petals nestled among dark green leaves, showcasing a vivid contrast of colors and textures in a natural setting.
Peonies

When to Stake Your Plants: The Perfect Timing for Flower Support

Timing is key for effective plant support. In this section, we’ll chat about the ideal time to stake, trellis, or cage your flowers, ensuring they receive support at the right growth stage. And I’m also sharing tips on how to monitor your plants and adjust their support as needed throughout the growing season.

dahlia fleurel with white flowers and dahlia labrynth with peachy orange flowers in a vibrant cut flower garden
Dahlia Fleurel and Labrynth

The Ideal Timing for Supporting Tall Flowers

For most methods, the best time to add support is typically when your plants reach about one-third of their mature height. This usually occurs in late spring or early summer for most varieties. At this stage, the stems are still flexible enough to be gently guided and trained onto the support structure without snapping.

Unless you are working with staking or corraling plants, I think it’s a good idea to add your support at planting or soon after. Growth happens really fast in the spring and if you aren’t paying attention, plants can reach well over a foot and make it harder to support after the fact.

Of course, this depends on what you are growing and the method you choose to support your flowers. For example, I add the grow-through supports for my peonies as soon as they break ground because as years passed, I’d get to adding the supports too late and have to carefully weave the stems through the grids.

Another great example is adding trellis netting. It’s much easier to set them up when the plants are small than as they grow.

Watch for Signs of Leaning, Heavy Flowers, and Inclement Weather

Keep a close eye on your plants as they grow. Look for signs that they need support, such as:

  • Leaning stems: If your plants start to lean or bend, it’s time to intervene.
  • Heavy flower buds: Budding flowers can weigh down stems, making them vulnerable to breakage.
  • Exposure to wind: Windy conditions can easily topple tall, unsupported plants.

Maintaining Plant Supports for Tall Garden Flowers

Remember, providing support is not a one-and-done task. As your plants continue to grow, you may need to adjust their support structures or add additional stakes or ties. This is especially important for climbing varieties that need to be trained onto trellises or other vertical supports.

A vibrant garden scene filled with assorted flowers, including prominent pink blooming flowers in the foreground, set against a backdrop of lush greenery and distant blurred buildings. tall flowers are supported with netting and corralling plants to keep them from flopping over

DIY Plant Support Ideas: Craft Your Own Creative Solutions for Upright Blooms

Creating your own plant supports can be a cost-effective and rewarding way to ensure your tall garden flowers stay upright and healthy. Here are some simple and effective DIY plant support ideas that you can try:

Bamboo Stakes: A Natural & Versatile Support for Your Garden

Bamboo stakes are a popular choice for homemade plant supports due to their strength and natural look. To use bamboo stakes, simply cut bamboo canes to the desired length and drive them into the ground near your plants. Use garden twine or soft ties to loosely secure the plant stems to the stakes. This method works well for plants like sunflowers and dahlias.

Twiggy Branches

Twiggy branches are an eco-friendly and rustic way to support your plants. Go foraging and collect branches from your garden or nearby woods that have a lot of small twigs. Push the thicker ends of the branches into the ground around your plants, creating a natural network of support. This method is particularly effective for lighter, branching plants like cosmos and sweet peas.

Trash to Treasure: Clever Plant Supports from Recycled Materials

Think outside the box and save some money at the same time. Repurposing materials you already have at home or thrift for can be a great way to support your garden flowers. Old wooden dowels, metal rods, or even broken umbrellas can be transformed into plant supports. Simply drive them into the ground and use twine to tie the plants to the supports. This approach not only saves money but also reduces waste.

A rustic iron trellis supporting climbing roses adds a touch of elegance to garden care, with a bird feeder hanging nearby, nestled among a variety of flowering shrubs
Pink Climbing Roses: The Complete Guide to Roses Care

Taming Tall Plants with Twine: Easy Support with String & Stakes

For a simple and adjustable support system, use wooden or metal stakes and garden twine. Drive stakes into the ground at the corners of your garden bed and run twine horizontally between the stakes at various heights. As your plants grow, you can add more levels of twine to provide additional support. This method is particularly useful in garden beds for supporting a group of tall plants, such as coneflowers, rudbeckia, and hollyhocks.

DIY Tomato Cages: Sturdy Support for Your Tomato Plants

Tomato cages can be used for more than just tomatoes. Create your own cages for flowers using heavy-gauge wire or old fencing material. Cut the wire to the desired height and shape it into a cylinder, securing the ends together. Place the cage over your plant and push the bottom ends into the soil. This method is excellent for supporting top-heavy plants like dahlias and zinnias.

Wooden Trellises & Obelisks: Elegant DIY Supports for Climbing Plants

Building a wooden trellis is a great DIY project that can provide sturdy support for climbing plants. Use wooden posts and crossbeams to create a trellis of the desired size. Secure the posts in the ground and train your climbing plants, such as sweet peas or clematis, to grow up the trellis. This not only supports the plants but also adds a decorative element to your garden.

You can also build your own wood obelisk too. Creating a wooden obelisk for your garden is a rewarding DIY project. It starts with cutting four equal lengths of wood for the legs and then a series of shorter pieces for the crossbars. Attach the crossbars to the legs at intervals, creating a pyramid shape. To finish, secure the legs at the top and add decorative finials if desired. This simple structure can then be stained or painted to match your garden decor.

Ladder Supports: A Sturdy Solution for Sprawling Plants

Old wooden or metal ladders can be repurposed as unique plant supports. Simply place the ladder over or near your plants, allowing the stems to grow through the rungs. This method provides excellent support and adds a rustic charm to your garden. Ladder supports work well for tall, bushy plants like peonies and rudbeckia.

By using these homemade or DIY plant support ideas, you can keep your tall garden flowers upright and healthy without spending a lot of money. Plus, creating your own supports adds a personal touch to your garden and helps you make the most of available materials.

stinking hellebore lenten rose in shade garden with different hosta varieties, variegated willow and wine and roses weigela and joe pye weedhappy gardening in the backyard garden

Tall Garden Flowers That Thrive with Support

While some flowers stand tall and proud on their own, others need a little help to reach their full potential. Tall varieties with heavy blooms, delicate stems, or a climbing habit can benefit greatly from the right support. In this section, I’m sharing a dozen gorgeous flowers that thrive with a helping hand so you can create a garden that’s both stunning and structurally sound.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers are known for their impressive height and large, heavy blooms that can reach up to 12 feet tall. Their top-heavy nature makes them susceptible to toppling, especially in strong winds. Sturdy stakes driven deeply into the ground are essential to keep giant varieties upright. Tying the stem to the stake with soft ties ensures that the plant remains supported as it grows.

Two vibrant sunflowers, one facing forward and the other drooping slightly, set against a backdrop of greenery and a stone wall, ideal for harvesting sunflower seeds.

Tithonia

Tithonia, or Mexican sunflower, benefits from support in a flower garden due to its tall growth and large blooms, which can cause the plant to flop over, especially in windy or rainy conditions. Supporting Tithonia with stakes, cages, or corralling methods helps maintain its upright structure, encouraging healthy growth and improving air circulation. This not only enhances the garden’s aesthetics but also facilitates maintenance tasks like weeding and watering while maximizing sun exposure for uniform growth and abundant blooms.

Three vibrant red-orange flowers on a tithonia plant with prominent yellow centers and lush green leaves in a garden.
Tithonia

Peonies

Peonies produce large, lush blooms that can cause their stems to bend under the weight, especially after rain. These plants typically reach heights of about 3 feet. Using peony rings or grow-through supports early in the growing season can help keep the stems upright and the blooms elevated, preventing them from touching the ground and getting damaged.

Close-up of vibrant peonies in bloom, featuring a fully opened white and pink flower, a pink-tipped bud, and a fluffy, fully white blossom against dark green foliage.

Echinacea (Coneflowers)

Echinacea, or coneflowers, can grow up to 4 feet tall. Their tall, sturdy stems can benefit from staking or corralling to prevent them from bending or breaking, particularly in windy conditions. Corralling a group of coneflowers helps maintain their upright growth and keeps the garden looking tidy.

Growing a vibrant cluster of purple coneflowers with orange centers, surrounded by lush green foliage in a garden setting - purple coneflower care

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks are tall, elegant plants that can reach heights of up to 8 feet. Their height and large flower spikes make them prone to leaning or toppling over. Staking or using a corral system is essential to provide the necessary support for these towering plants, ensuring they stay upright and display their blooms beautifully.

Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans)

Rudbeckia, also known as black-eyed Susans, can grow up to 3 feet tall. Their sturdy stems can still benefit from staking or corralling to keep them from flopping over, particularly during heavy rain or strong winds. Providing support helps maintain their upright growth and enhances their visual appeal in the garden.

A vibrant garden with a variety of colorful flowers, including yellow daisies, pink blossoms, and black-eyed susans among the green foliage, lines a pathway leading to a door adorned with a floral wreath. The lush and well-maintained garden flourishes under the shade of a large tree. How to support tall flowers using corraling method with string and garden stakes

Cosmos

Cosmos can grow up to 6 feet tall and produce airy, delicate flowers that are prone to toppling in wind and rain. Staking or using netting can help support the branching stems, ensuring the plant remains upright and continues to bloom profusely throughout the season.

double click cosmos

Sweet Peas

Sweet peas are climbers that can reach heights of 6 to 8 feet. Trellising is the best method to support their growth, allowing the vines to climb and preventing them from sprawling on the ground. This not only supports the plant but also maximizes its visual impact in the garden.

Dahlias

Dahlias can grow up to 6 feet tall and produce large, heavy blooms that need support to prevent the stems from breaking. Staking or using tomato cages is effective in keeping dahlias upright and ensuring their blooms remain elevated and visible.

A vibrant garden with lush green foliage features growing dahlias in various stages of blooming. The dahlias display a gradient of pastel colors, primarily yellow and pink. The background reveals more greenery and garden structures. Dahlia kogane fubuki
Dahlia Kogane Fubuki

Snapdragons

Snapdragons can reach heights of up to 4 feet. Their tall, narrow stems benefit from staking to keep them from flopping over. Proper support helps maintain their upright growth and ensures a continuous display of their colorful blooms.

A close-up of vibrant snapdragons with layers of peach and yellow petals, surrounded by green foliage and purple flowers in the background - Growing snapdragons madame butterfly bronze

Zinnias

Zinnias can grow up to 4 feet tall and produce vibrant, heavy blooms. Staking or corralling zinnias helps prevent the stems from bending or breaking, especially during strong winds or heavy rain, ensuring they remain upright and healthy.

benary's giant wine zinnia flowers

Larkspur

Larkspur can grow up to 3 feet tall and benefit from trellis netting, corraling, or using grow-through supports to keep their stems upright. Proper support prevents the blooms from drooping and helps maintain the plant’s structure and appearance.

close up of larkspur in the potager garden - pink pruple and white flowers
Larkspur

Strawflowers

Strawflowers can grow up to 3 feet tall and have slender stems that need staking to prevent them from bending. Providing support ensures that their vibrant blooms remain upright and visible.

A vibrant flowerbed showcasing an array of spherical strawflowers with petals in deep maroon and soft peach, set against a backdrop of lush greenery and a green fence.
Strawflowers

Celosia

Celosia, known for its vibrant colors and unique flower shapes, can grow up to 3 feet tall. Staking or corralling these plants helps keep their stems upright and prevents them from bending under the weight of their blooms.

Vibrant pink and purple celosia flowers bloom in a garden, illuminated by soft sunlight with a blurred background of greenery.
Celosia

Flower Support FAQs: Demystifying Stakes, Cages, and More

Curious about the best ways to prop up your towering blooms? Wondering when to stake, what materials to use, or how to deal with unruly climbers? This FAQ section is here to answer all your burning questions about supporting tall garden flowers.

When should I start supporting my tall garden flowers?

It is best to start supporting tall flowers early in the growing season when the plants are about 1/3 of their height, which could be a foot tall. This ensures that the support structures can be put in place without damaging the plants and allows them to grow through and around the supports naturally.

That said, I recommend supporting plants sooner depending on the method you use because growth happens fast and you don’t want to miss your window of supporting the blooms.

Can netting be used for all types of tall garden flowers?

Netting is particularly useful for plants with many branching stems, such as cosmos and zinnias. It provides a broad area of support and helps distribute pressure evenly. However, it may not be suitable for single-stemmed plants or very heavy blooms, which may require staking or cages.

A lush garden filled with vibrant pink, purple, yellow, and red flowers in full bloom. The background features a wooden fence, green foliage, and partially visible buildings. The scene is bathed in bright sunlight under a clear blue sky. growing zinnias and dahlias in a cut flower garden

Final Thoughts on Supporting Tall Garden Flowers

Supporting your tall garden flowers early in the growing season is crucial to ensure they remain healthy and visually appealing throughout the season. By using the right support methods and incorporating DIY solutions, you can protect your plants from wind and rain damage, promote upright growth, and enhance the overall beauty of your garden.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear more! And please share this post with anyone you think would enjoy and find it helpful too.

To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

For more information about supporting tall flowers, please see Penn State Cooperative Extension.

Thanks so much for joining me in the gardens today!

Enjoy a beautiful day!

The image features the name "Stacy Ling" written in a decorative script font. To the left of the name, there is an illustration of a pink, watercolor-style flower with green leaves, reminiscent of English lavender in full bloom.
The bricks \'n Blooms guide to a beautiful and easy-care flower garden book by stacy ling
The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy Care Flower Garden
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