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!
This is awesome! Thanks for the idea!
I LOVE this idea! It looks great. Other sites I’ve read mention that you want to use stakes outside of plant base area so you don’t damage the bulb/root structure(? I’m new to this…not sure I’m saying the right thing here). Is this a concern at all?
Good question, Kaitlin. This method doesn’t damage the crown or root structure because there is only one stake right in the center, not several. And if you use a thin bamboo or metal stake it slides in between the roots.
I think I will try this as my new peonies start to grow out. I was just contemplating buying 5 new ‘large’ or ‘extra large’ supports from a gardening site, at $45 or $80 each! So, I have nothing to lose and a lot with this method this year!
Let me know how it works for you, Janet!
Great idea! I’m going out to do it right now! But– I am using some large sticks from my yard, not the bamboo. More sustainable, and it won’t matter because eventually the stick won’t show. Plus, I have no bamboo. : )
Such a treat to find this, thank you!
Perfect! Why didn’t I think of that?
Just did this with some bamboo I harvested from my garden . It looks beautiful and natural. Thank you for the great idea!
I have been using a metal hoop for my peonies but it makes the bush look so ugly. Every year I try to figure out some other ways to do a better job but I can’t. Wow! This system of support looks great so I am going to try it today. Thanks so much..
Just finished! I don’t even see the twine! Thank you for the tip!
How do you ensure you don’t drive the stake right through the crown of the plant? I love this idea and have been looking for a better looking alternative, but I don’t want to damage my plants.