When you are designing a flower or vegetable garden you may want to include vertical elements that can become top heavy, such as tomatoes, vines, certain flowers and other climbing plants. These kinds of plants will require supports, and you must decide what type of supports you will employ to keep them growing happily in the right direction. Steel plant supports offer a sturdy option with many advantages and few disadvantages for the home gardener.
Tomato cages made of steel provide tomato plants with plenty of support as they grow and develop fruit. Steel supports for tomatoes allow air to circulate around their stems, foliage, blooms and fruit, aiding in disease prevention. These popular supports are cylindrical and narrower towards the bottom and wider towards the top. Steel tomato cages are available in a variety of colors -- from natural steel to hot pink -- at home and garden supply retailers.
Steel trellises provide a stable, handsome support for heavy vining plants such as climbing roses, wisteria and clematis. Trellises are a strong design element in the garden year-round, so choose a steel version that you like the looks of bare as well as covered in greenery and blooms. Steel trellises can be flat or arched or they could be structures with gridded roofs. Steel versions may be somewhat more expensive than wooden or plastic versions, but they are long-lasting and visually appealing.
Steel posts can support any garden plant. Sink them into the earth at least 1-foot deep and 1-foot away from the plant with a rubber mallet. Test them to be certain that they do not wobble. If they do, sink them deeper still. Tie plants to the steel stakes with nylons or twine, using a figure-eight between the stem of the plant and the stake so that the plant has the freedom to move slightly in a breeze, rather than snapping because it is tightly tied to the post. Steel posts have the advantage of being highly resistant to weather damage. They don't rot in the ground like wooden and bamboo stakes, nor do they blow away like plastic versions can.
Steel is a good choice for peony supports. These plant supports are tall stakes with hoops at the top. Place them in the ground to a depth of at least 6 inches beside the plants before their new shoots reach 3 to 4 inches tall. Flower stalks will emerge through the hoops. Direct any stems that grow outside the hoops back through them before their buds open. When the peonies bloom, instead of falling over, they will rest securely against the steel hoops.
Steel plant supports are not necessary for houseplants. Their strength and resistance to extreme weather is not applicable indoors, and they may appear cold, aesthetically, in some interiors. Instead, you might choose to use chopsticks, small branches or other materials that look handsome against the plants. On the other hand, steel plant supports might be exactly the style you want for your indoor garden. Pair them with lemon trees in a kitchen featuring steel counter tops, repurposed industrial pendant lamps and pots made from recycled computers.