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.
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.
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........
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
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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