I’ve seen other people make natural plant supports from clippings. But not being a very handy person, I hadn’t thought of actually trying it myself.
However, I can now reveal – it is really easy. Even if you’re someone who can barely change a light bulb, then you can make natural plant supports out of birch, hazel or willow twigs.
We recently had our silver birch tree pruned, so we had lots of wood clippings. And even if you don’t have a birch tree, there are lots of silver birch in most parts of Britain. They shed their twiggy branches regularly, so keep an eye out.
Cutting the clippings
I cut most of the clippings to approximately the length of a garden fork. Choose – or cut – small branches that have at least 6″-9″ of fairly firm wood that you can jam into the soil.
The rest of the birch cutting needs to be bendy and flexible.
Most gardeners make their plant supports in late April or early May, when the perennials have begun to spring out of the ground. However, I know where my dahlias are because I protect them over winter with a pile of mulch, marked with a stick.
(Read this to find out more about not digging up dahlias for winter.)
Jam the sticks around the plant in a circle, wedging them firmly into the ground. Then bend some of the twigs over the top of the plant, weaving them together.
Then gently twist, poke and ease the twiggy ends around each other, fixing each branch by weaving it into the next one (or the opposite one when you’re going over the top).
Carry on until you have a birch twig cage over where your plant will be.
I added some extra twigs lower down as my first plant support cage looked a bit high. Plant supports should be about three quarters of the eventual height of the plant.
It’s quick, easy and free…
What more can I say? Except that you can see more about how it’s done in this video:
These were literally the first natural plant supports I’d ever made. They’re not perfect, but they’ll do the job of supporting the plants, and I’ll get better at it.
I’ve always envied the well supported borders of professional gardens. Now I’m cautiously hopeful that there will be fewer flattened blooms in the Middlesized Garden next summer.
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