Staking and trellising can be a challenge in any garden. But when you have up to 30 large plants growing in less than 2 square feet, it becomes essential to find easy ways to keep plants growing upright. In this post, I'm going thru all the trellising and staking options that we've found thru the years. Some are better than others, but there's something for every garden and everyone. All these options are simple and inexpensive.
In general, we recommend growing larger plants towards the bottom and smaller ones towards the top. We like to also plant just one crop per GreenStalk to keep staking easy. Most of our customers grow multiple plants per GreenStalk Vertical Planter, so that's what we'll focus on in this post.
Garden Staples + Twine
This is one of our favorite methods. Stick a garden staple in a pocket above and tie some twine around the plants below to keep them from falling over. You don't need to tie the twine tight around the plants. The goal is to create a place for the plant stems to lay vertically. This is inexpensive, easy and looks pretty natural from a distance. You can also create a little hammock from the garden staples and mesh to give watermelon and other fruit producing plants support.
Bamboo + Plant Ties
For maximum stability, be sure to get bamboo sticks that are at least 18" tall. Stick the bamboo all the way to the bottom of the planter and use plant ties to secure tomato plants. Cucumbers and peas don't need to be secured with ties since they will grab onto the bamboo on their own. It might be worth using a Professional Bamboo Landscapers service if you're planning on planting a lot of bamboo in the area, especially if you're going to use it as a prominent feature in your garden. You can also purchase plastic or metal poles and follow the same steps.
If your goal is just to keep some leaning plants upright, this is a great option. Just tie some twine around the entire GreenStalk Vertical Planter and it will keep your plants in a vertical position. This works well for leaning eggplants or peppers too.
Use Your Railings
I've unintentionally used our deck railing as support for growing plants. This works really well as long as you can still access your plants to harvest, especially if you also want to highlight the new deck put in place by Archadeck of Western North Carolina, or another similar company. You can let your cucumbers vine on your deck railing or let your pepper or tomato plants hang over the railing. The downside is that you can only use this method for a few plants/pockets and you shouldn't rotate your vertical planter when using this method.
I've also let plants (tomatoes in particular) just drape over the side of the GreenStalk. Sometimes the tomato stems will crack but usually they don't break completely and sometimes they will even just adjust to the edge of the pocket and grow a thick twisted stem in that area for added support. I've done this successfully with determinate tomato plants - particularly the tumbling tom variety.
Vertical Hanging String
If you're growing vertically in a greenhouse this is the best way to trellis and keep your plants well supported. We did this at our office this year with great results. Just tie the string to the greenhouse or cold frame and let it drape down. As the plants grow, wrap the string around the stems. Cucumbers will naturally trellis around the string. Your plants will grow so tall that you may need to get out the ladder to harvest – which is a good problem to have!
These are super simple to add to your GreenStalk Vertical Planter. They fit perfectly in the pocket and are made of stainless steel so they resist rust and will last for seasons to come. Simply tie some twine around the loop of the plant marker above and you have instant plant support. Our twine is biodegradable so just toss it in the compost pile when you're done with it! You can shop our plant support collection here.
We have cut and re-purposed metal hangers from our closet to help keep plants upright. We basically just cut the hanger portion off then re-bent the metal to fit into the pockets. This is not the most robust option, but for simple inexpensive staking metal hangers can't be beat!
You can get creative with your plants and mix and match depending on strength and plant structure. For example, you can grow sugar snap peas or cucumbers in the pockets below corn. You could also grow a GreenStalk full of sugar snap peas or cucumbers that will grow and provide support for each other.
Choose Dwarf Varieties
Another method is to choose dwarf, bush or determinate varieties. You can find a hybrid of just about any plant that doesn't require staking. Compact tomato plants typically have short thick stems making them more manageable than their indeterminate methods. The downside to choosing compact plants is that they may not produce as much as the standard variety.
Prune Your Plants
If your plants are becoming too unruly you can always cut them back. Keeping your plants trimmed will encourage more thick growth instead of tall and thin growth – which can be hard to keep well contained and staked.
Those are the simple and inexpensive solutions we've used thru the years while growing in the GreenStalk Vertical Planter. What's your favorite way to keep your plants staked and upright? Let us know in the comments below!