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Standing tall: Creative methods for staking your peonies

Peonies are a beautiful addition to any garden, but the heavy blooms of some varieties often require staking to keep them from flopping over.

When it comes to staking, some peony varieties require support to keep their large, heavy flowers upright, while others have stronger stems and can stand on their own without staking.

Peonies that do not require staking typically have strong, sturdy stems that can support the weight of their flowers. These varieties often have shorter and more compact growth habits, which helps them maintain their upright posture. They may have thicker stems or more rigid foliage, which adds to their ability to remain erect. For instance, Itoh peonies do not require staking in general, while tree peonies’ exceptionally large flowers may need individual support.

Double herbaceous peonies often require more staking for support. Mature specimens with many stems also need to be staked. The staking for the whole plant should ideally be done early in the growing season, before the plant starts producing flower buds. By providing support to the stems, staking helps prevent damage, maintains the desired appearance of the plant, and allows for better air circulation.

For instance, the blooms of this ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony will droop onto the ground if not properly staked.

Here are some creative methods to stake peonies:

  1. Traditional peony ring: A traditional peony ring is a circular metal stake with a support grid. Simply place the ring over the peony plant and carefully guide the stems through the grid as they grow. As the plant grows, you can add additional rings for support.
  2. Bamboo or metal stakes: Another easy way to stake peonies is with bamboo or metal stakes. Insert several stakes around the plant and loosely tie the stems to the stakes with garden twine. Be sure to leave enough slack for the stems to move with the wind.
  3. Half-moon metal supports: These supports are specifically designed to provide gentle and effective support to peonies, particularly those with heavy blooms that tend to droop or get damaged by wind or rain. The unique half-moon shape of these supports allows them to be easily inserted into the ground around the peony plant, encircling the stems and providing a sturdy framework for the plant to lean on. The gentle curve of the support mimics the natural growth habit of peonies, allowing them to maintain their graceful form while keeping their flowers and stems well-supported. One of the advantages of using half-moon shaped supports is their versatility. They can be used as a single support on one side or adjusted in height as the peony plant grows, accommodating its changing needs throughout the growing season. This adaptability ensures that the support remains effective and prevents any damage to the plant as it reaches its full bloom. Prefer sturdy metal instead of thin and small supports.
  4. Peony cages: Peony cages are a more decorative option for staking peonies. These metal or wire cages are available in various sizes and can be placed around the peony plant for support. They come in various decorative styles to match your garden decor, some being very simple like tomato cages, some very elaborate and expensive.
  5. Tomato cages: You can also use a tomato cage to stake peonies, usually for younger plants or smaller varieties. Simply place it over the peony plant. The peony stems will grow through the openings in the cage and provide support. You may also invert the cage if the plant is large.
  6. Peony props: Peony props are another popular method for staking peonies. These metal stakes are designed to support individual stems and are placed in the ground near the base of the stem. The props can be adjusted as the plant grows taller.

Traditional peony ring

The grid of a traditional peony ring was installed early on, allowing the stems of this ‘Candy Stripe’ variety to grow through without causing any significant obstruction.

Half-moon supports

Half-moon supports are particularly recommended for mature specimens such as this lovely heirloom herbaceous peony. Installation may be done any time before flowering. Peony growers leave them on year-round but in some cases I remove them after flowering.

Metal stakes

This mature ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony is supported by five metal stakes, secured with two rows of durable string that is replaced annually. The stakes remain in place throughout the year.

Peony cages

Simple peony cages are similar to tomato cages but are typically wider. Even Coral varieties, which are reputed for not needing staking, may still benefit from a large peony cage, especially if the plant is very mature.

Tomato cages

This very tall ‘Jeanne Cayeux’ stands tall at 5 feet with the help of the largest tomato cage I could find at 54 inches high with a wide diameter. The foliage hides completely the rings.

Single stem props

One year-old ‘She’s My Star’ is producing one flowery stem well-supported by a single stem prop. Each flower support has one slot for stems passing through easily without breaking them. Simple to use, just insert the stake into the earth and get the stem into the hoop through the slot.

Remember that even with staking, it’s essential to handle the peony stems with care to avoid any breakage or damage. Additionally, providing enough space for the blooms to be properly displayed is crucial.

With these different methods for staking peonies, you can keep your plants looking beautiful and upright all season long. Choose the options that works best for you and your garden, and enjoy your lovely peony blooms!

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