need help with flopped over flowers

I'm a complete novice gardener and i'm having trouble with some flowers. They grew up straight and tall and had beautiful flowers on top, but then they flopped over and started growing into a messy tangle. I didn't know what to do so today I used string to hold them up but it doesn't look very nice. I'm sure there is a better way to handle this. You can see the pictures of my problem at the following link. Clicking on the picture will enlarge it.
http://homepage.mac.com/davecalhoun/PhotoAlbum51.html
Thank you for any advice you are able to offer.
Dave
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You have gaillardia and bachelor buttons there. They are more or less wild-flowers, and in the wild seldom flop much, because the conditions are so hostile, they don't grow as quickly... It might be too late now, but if you grow plants like these, or many varieties of perennials that grow tall, you can buy wire cone-shaped cages at almost any nursery in the country. Sometimes they are sold as tomato cages, or as peony hoops, depending on their size. They have wire "feet" that you push into the dirt to make them stable. Generally, the best plan is to put them in shortly after the plants emerge as seedlings or send up new foliage in the spring if they are perennials. If you are VERY patient, you can try to thread the current stems of the plants you have up through the center of the hoops, trying not to bend or break the stems as you go, and the hoops will support the flower stems, while the foliage will push around the wire, disguising it. However, don't be surprised if about half the flower stems break during the process (this is bitter experience talking).......LOL. The other option at this point would be to cut the plants back pretty drastically (both of these plants are types that would put out new foliage and flowers if you did that), and put the hoops down around their bases. If you use that method, you will lose about 3 weeks of flowering time as they regenerate from the base).

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Will drastic cutting back help Shasta Daisies, too? i've never ben able to get strong stems on shastas, but ever so often try again <G> Lee h

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I have floppy Shastas too - I think some people cut them back drastically after first flowering and get shorter stems with good flowers in August.

flowers.
didn't
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As Greg has told you, your problem is your plants are growing in too-rich soil, in the wild they'd be growing in much leaner soil and would stand on their own.
He is also right that the stems will break easily, but since these are annual flowers that are intent on setting seed, if you cut them back they'll regrow new flowers (this is why we deadhead annuals, keep them from setting seed, they'll keep trying with new flowers). So go ahead and put supports around them and don't worry too much about breaking them.
--
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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