Should You Stake Your Hydrangeas?
Not all hydrangeas were created equal. While some can grow big, bushy blooms without ever flopping over, others require stakes in order to stand tall. "The best way to tell if your hydrangea is a candidate for staking is to look at it after a heavy rain," says Amy Enfield, a horticulturist at ScottsMiracle-Gro. "Large flowers and heavy rain can make for floppy hydrangeas. So, if the flowers cause the stems to bend to the ground under the weight of the rain, it's a good idea to stake your plants."
Enfield says that in most cases, no harm will come to your plant if you don't stake it. However, she does warn that there is a chance that thin flowering stems could be damaged when pulled down by the weight of heavy flowers. "It can also make the flowers dirty, which isn't good if you like to cut them to enjoy indoors," she adds. Not sure if you should stake your hydrangeas or not? We asked Enfield and Venelin Dimitrov, a product manager at Burpee, for their advice and here's what they had to share.
To stake or not to stake?
According to our experts, certain types of hydrangeas are more likely to require staking. "Hydrangeas that produce large flowerheads, like the Annabelle hydrangea, appreciate some added support to keep their flower stems upright," Enfield explains. "Staking helps keep the plants tidy, the branches from bending under the weight of the flowers, and keeps the flowers in full display in your garden." Additionally, Dimitrov says stakes will help support larger flower varieties such as mop-head or lace-cap hydrangeas.
Use the correct tools.
In order to properly stake your hydrangeas, you'll need the right materials. "When prepping to stake, you can utilize bamboo stakes and a soft tie, such as fabric tape or strips of old pantyhose (black is less conspicuous in the garden than nude)," Dimitrov says. If the hydrangea is growing near a fence, Enfield says you can use jute twine to gently tie it to the structure for support.
Know where to plant the stakes.
Enfield says that stakes can be placed anywhere the plant needs the added support. "Closer to the plant is better, but be careful not to damage the root system," she says. "Stakes should go several inches (six to 12) into the ground so that the stems don't pull them out under their weight."
Establish a plan.
For a more natural look that eventually hides the stake, Enfield says to place the support in the center of the plant (the stake should be about a foot shorter than the tallest stem), and then use jute twine to pull each stem up individually towards the center. "Plant ties should be placed just under a leaf to keep it from sliding up the stem. Use a figure-eight loop that is twisted around the stake. The stem should be able to move so it can continue to grow."
Don't forget to stake blooms that will become bouquets.
If you like to use your homegrown hydrangeas for smaller floral displays, Dimitrov recommends having some stakes handy. "If you plan on cutting large flowers for at-home arrangements or bouquets, you will want to stake them to preserve their shape," he explains. "The bigger the blooming flowers, the more likely they are to droop."