By now we have a pretty good idea of what plants in the garden are going to fall over by mid-summer and we usually plan way ahead to prevent floppage. We have whole sets of peony rings designated for plants like like balloon flower (Platycodon gradiflorus) and speedwell (Veronica longifolia) rather than for peonies. They just didn’t make it on quite in time this past spring/early summer. That said, not hooping the speedwell was a deliberate experiment. We decided to give it the Chelsea chop instead. (Remember this post? I barely do…) We thought cutting its stems back by a third to a half might encourage a bushier, sturdier clump that wouldn’t need propping up. We learned our lesson. The clumps were as wimpy as ever — wimpier even — and fell open unattractively in concentric circles. Boo hiss. And I take full responsibility for “forgetting” to put hoops on the balloon flowers. I don’t like the look of them when they’re corralled, and resent that they need hooping at all. I thought I might enjoy them more if left to grow loosey-goosey. I don’t.
I always cross my fingers that gladiolus will stand up on their own the way these lovely stems are doing…
But then if they show any signs of leaning dangerously, we try to tether them just before they fall. We missed a couple this summer (blame the heat). And another just went and bent itself over in the other direction after propping. There’s no good solution at this point except to try to remember to relocate the corms (these have been wintering over in the North Garden for years now) further back in the beds where they might lean on sturdier neighbors.
Sea holly (Eryngium planum) is another plant that leans like a spaniel and another that I would personally never hoop. Like the glads, I’d rather relocate it to tighter quarters behind and amongst other plants that can take its weight. In the meantime, pea-stakes will have to do. The other option is to cut any stems that have fallen in the way for flower arrangements.
What’s your opinion on staking, corralling, hooping, and propping? Is it too much trouble? Do you prefer a loose, au naturel look? Is staking worth the effort? Do you not mind seeing the scaffolding? (–Or do you have clever ways to hide it?)