How to Stake A Flopping Peony – Attractively!
Faced with a peony with heavy flowers falling into the dirt, must gardeners stick a heavy stake in the back and wrap a cord around the circumference of the plant. It gets the job done, but isn’t very attractive in the garden. Most people who invest in the so-called “peony hoops” or other grow-through supports are similarly disappointed. They are seldom large enough and strong enough to do the job effectively. But this “umbrella spoke” method of supporting peony stems with a bamboo cane and twine works well for me, is quick to apply, and is almost invisible in the garden.
Here is a peony with stems that are already falling to the ground even before the flowers open.
Step one is to push a bamboo stake into the center of the plant. If that stake is about 6″ taller than the plant before pushing it into the ground it will be just under the tops of the leaves once you push it down 8 to 10 inches into the soil. Then it will be held firm but it won’t be visible.
Next take a spool of twine and tie the end to the stake, about three or four inches from the top. Don’t cut pieces off – you’ll use the twine as it unrolls from the spool in a continuous cord.
Next take the twine out and around one stem. Begin with the center stems and pull them up closer to the stake. The stems that are near the outside of the clump aren’t pulled as upright, but are allowed to lean over more, giving the plant it’s natural shape. You don’t use the cord to circle the stem completely – just wrap around it in a “U” and then run back to the stake and around the stake once. Circle around the stake, first supporting the center stems upright, then the next layer a bit further away etc, always coming back to the stake and around. You will soon see what looks like umbrella spokes that radiate all around the stake.
Once you fluff the foliage back over the twine those spokes of string disappear. If the stake is too tall you can clip it shorter, but once the peony stems settle in it’s not likely to show.
Here is that same peony, staked. You don’t see the cords or the stake, and the plant looks natural in shape, but when the flowers get heavy they will be supported and won’t fall to the ground. Success!