The fact that this disaster can happen at the very peak of a plant’s performance makes it worse still, as any meaningful rescue is by then usually futile.
To save that heartache here at RHS Garden Rosemoor we use a selection of different staking styles, allied to the different groups of plants and the areas in which we grow them.
While we do utilise hazel sticks, particularly in the Cottage and Vegetable Gardens, as attractive naturalistic supports, by far the largest support system we use is that of link stakes. These pliable and practically indestructible supports have proved invaluable, and although the initial retail cost is relatively high they have been a terrific investment, helping maintain our border plantings to a really high standard (the only one we ever had to discard was one which was accidently put through an industrial shredding machine!)
The three sizes; 50, 100 and 150cm (approximately 18in, 3ft and 5ft) are useful for supporting a whole range of perennials, although the key, as with all staking methods, is to get the stakes in the ground nice and early while the plants themselves are still small.
This way the growing stems grow through the stakes naturally and the stakes themselves soon disappear from view. The largest size is sometimes added as a second tier, rather as you might use scaffolding. This gives extra support to extremely tall perennials such as some Rudbeckia, Helianthus and Inula.
Get RHS advice on staking perennials
Buy plant supports online at the RHS Shop
Buy the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials