storm damage to flowers

Hello everyone, I have been lurking here for a few months and have learned a lot just by reading your posts. Now I have a question. I am a new gardener, and most of my plants have been doing great up until now. Last night we had a storm and my taller plants, cleome and cosmos, were either uprooted or bent over. I tried to stand them all back up and pack the "mud" around them, but most are still leaning. I covered the root area with mulch. They are looking pretty wilted. Is there anything else I can do to try to save them? The cleome just started flowering and the cosmos just got buds on them. Thanks for any help you can give me.
Lori
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Lori, There aren't any magic tricks to try when dealing with tall willowy species. You've got to support them in some way. I grow the plants you mention, and I grow them in clumps. I place a few stakes in amongst them (not one for each plant) and interweave some almost invisible twine in and around the plants and tie it to the stakes. What results is a fairly self-supporting mass that remains reasonably upright and unbroken......and the supports are nearly invisible. It's best to set this up before the plants get too big. (For full-size cleome and cosmos, 4 ft. skinny bamboo stakes are good.)
Also important is keeping the plants pinched back early in the growing season so that the stems become thicker and stronger. This helps quite a bit, but they'lll still need support when they reach full height. Try this next year.
Best, Tyra nNJ usa
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Thanks to both of you for replying. Next year I will know to stake them. They just seemed to have such strong, thick stems that I didn't think I needed to. I don't really like the looks of stakes so I will think more carefully about what to plant or take your "invisible approach."
Now, on to trying to make it look better........
Thanks Lori

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I try for the most part to avoid floppy perennials, but even with the best planning, there's always something that either gets top heavy, or which tips over after a heavy rain. Also some things that wouldn't ordinarily flop over may actually grow sideways if they get sun from only one direction. So there's just always going to be something that needs propping up.
The main method is just to stake things, which is harder to do tidily after-the-fact, if you know something is apt to tip you can plant it with a stake beside it to anchor to as it grows. But I dislike staking things at all, so I have several movable small trellises that are decorative in & of themselves (I made them out of small limbs, mounted to metal legs that can be stuck in the ground where needed, then moved elsewhere at will; some of them are so natural-looking they vanish into greenery pretty well, others are pretty obvious trellises but have rustic beauty wherever one is standing), & also have some purchased miniature iron fences that can have pointy legs be poked into the ground anyway. When something flops, I lift it to a handmade mini-trellis, or I prop it up against one of these yard-wide wrought iron mini-fences. I also use them to keep naturally fountaining perennials & subshrubs off the sidewalks. Often a brace at the bottom foot length is sufficient, most things don't need to be braced from top to bottom.
A tall floppy phlox I merely tied some twine around whole clump & anchored it to a small tree's trunk. A few things that MIGHT have tipped over can't because they grow amidst other tall clumping perennials & they brace each other, something that wouldn't work with phlox because growing into one another encourages mildew, but many other things like to be in a veritable hedgerow of mixed perennials.
When flowers get the crap beaten out of them by a hard rain, you mainly have to wait for the sun to help them repair themselves. Most things perk back up with very little assistance.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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