If you start growing plants in containers, you may have the question of whether some of the plants need support.
Container plants need support if they are of the vining variety because you need to help them grow vertically. This will keep them in good health and protect them from pests and diseases. You don’t need to provide support for plants of the bush variety.
I’ve written information in this post to help you understand the benefits of providing support to your container plants and what choices have. I’ve also written a huge list of container plants and the type of support you can use for them.
What are the benefits of providing support to container plants?
Protection from pests and diseases
The biggest benefit is that the vines of your container plants will be free to grow vertically. This gives them plenty of growing space and keeps sufficient gaps between them.
The air circulation is good and there is no issue of developing a humid environment near the vines. This protects the container plants from issues due to fungal diseases.
The vines will not be able to touch the soil or the ground. This protects the plants from pests and diseases that may be present in the soil.
Improved growth of the plant
Since the vines and plants can grow vertically without restrictions, the plants will be happy and healthy.
If you’re growing edible plants, they will develop bigger and better foliage and fruits. If you’re growing flowering plants, they will have a good blooming of flowers.
I’ve written a post that will help you grow most vegetables in containers. It’s easy to grow edibles and you will save a lot of money as well.
Efficient use of the growing space
The container plants are growing vertically when you provide them with support. This means you can grow more plants in the container as well as have more containers in the garden.
If you’re growing vegetables in the containers, it becomes easy to harvest the fruits from the vertical setup of the plants. You don’t need to bend to harvest them and they will be easier to reach through the support.
Your container garden will look very neat and tidy when you provide support to the vining plants. This will help prevent insects and critters from nesting in the vines of the plant.
What type of container plants need support?
You only need to provide support for certain types of container plants. The others will grow without any issues and have no need for them.
The vining varieties of plants are the ones that really have a need for support. These are the plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans of the vining variety.
These plants are also known as indeterminate plants because they keep growing. The vines of these plants may grow 6 to 7 feet tall and they do well when provided support with a trellis, tomato cage, or netting.
The dwarf varieties of plants are the counterparts of the vining varieties that have been created so they tend to remain small.
You can get dwarf varieties of plenty of plants including tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans. These plants are also known as determinate plants as they stop growing after reaching a certain height.
These plants may grow 2-3 feet tall and would do well with small support such as wooden stakes, a small tomato cage, or a conical cage.
These are the short varieties of plants that don’t grow vines but rather thick stems that form bushes.
You don’t need to provide any kind of support for these plants because they are short and can strong enough to support their branches.
Another variety of plants that you may grow in containers are the cascading varieties. They are known as such because they have vines that you can allow to flow over the container.
These could be flowering plants that you want to grow in hanging baskets where you allow the vines to cascade over the edge of the baskets to give an aesthetic appearance.
What are the different types of support for container plants?
Stakes are just simple, narrow, and long pieces of wood that you can insert into the container. You can use them to stake vining plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and beans.
You can use one stake if the plant is in a secure location away from the wind. Otherwise, you may need to use 2-3 stakes for additional stability.
You need to put the stake 3-4 inches away from the base of the plant. This will prevent it from damaging the roots. It’s best to put in the stake when the plant is small and just a few inches to keep most roots safe.
Make sure the stake is deep enough in the container to give stable support to the plant. Use twine or gardening ties to tie the stem of the plant to the stake.
I recommend keeping it loose enough so the stem does not get damaged. You can tie the stem every 6-8 inches as the plant keeps growing.
Trellis is the support you need when growing plants that are going to grow tall and wide in the containers. This is beneficial for plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and pole beans.
You can buy a ready-made trellis from a garden center or nursery. Or you can easily make your own using materials such as wire fencing, chicken wire, bamboo stakes, or even an old tripod.
One example is to use wire fencing that has a decent thickness to support the plants. You can either stick it in the ground next to the containers or tie it to the container itself.
You could intertwine a bamboo stake into the fencing and plant it inside the container if you want to make the support even stronger.
Once the vines of the plant start growing you can use twine or ties to tie them to the trellis. Make sure to tie it loose so you don’t damage the stems.
The teepee is another simple, stable, and useful support for vining plants like beans and peas that don’t have heavy fruit.
It’s easy to make your own tepee using flexible bamboo stakes and some twine. Insert the bamboo stakes on the outer edge of the potting soil in your container.
It’s best to put the bamboo stakes in even spaces on all sides of the container. You need at least 3-6 stakes when making such a tepee depending on the size of your container.
Since the bamboo stakes are flexible, you can cross them up at the top and tie them together with twine or a tie. This will give the support a teepee-like structure.
Now you can start at the base of the teepee and circle the twine around it. Cut the twine and tie it to the bamboo stake.
Keep using the tie every 3-4 inches till you reach the top of the teepee you created. Your vining plants can hold on to these ties as they grow vertically.
You can use cheap wire fencing to create a cage that supports your container plants. This can be really sturdy and useful for heavy fruit plants such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers. It can also be useful for plants that have very long vines.
It’s best to use a wire fence that is 14 gauge to get it nice and sturdy. You want the fencing to be at least 4 feet tall so it can support most container plants. You’ll need a cutting tool that is about 18 gauge to be able to cut this wire fence.
Measure the diameter of your container and cut a piece of the wire fence that is slightly longer than this. You can then fold the wire fence into a circular structure to form a cage.
You can tie the wire fence in this structure using twine, ties, or intertwine the wire itself so it holds the form.
It’s best if you can place this wire fence cage into the container before adding the potting soil. But you can also place it if the plant is already growing. You will need to cut the wires at one end so you create prongs that can go deep into the soil.
If you want to give the wire fence cage even more stability you can insert bamboo stakes through the gaps of the wire fence and insert them into the potting soil.
Make sure to cut some of the wire at certain heights of the cage. This will give you plenty of space to put your hand to tend to the plant and harvest any edibles.
You can create a trellis using netting. They work great for growing vines such as pole beans and string beans.
You can use any netting made from jute, string, wire, nylon as long as they are strong and flexible to support plants.
You can make your own trellis using bamboo stakes and any of the above materials such as jute strings.
You will need some soil where you place the containers because the bamboo stakes need to be inserted in the ground to provide stable support. The other option is to insert the bamboo stakes in 5-gallon containers that you place behind the plants.
You can insert the bamboo stakes in the soil behind the plants so they are evenly spaced. Make sure to use a hammer or mallet to put them deep in the soil for good support.
Now you can start at the bottom of the stake tying the jute strings in the horizontal direction across all the bamboo stakes to form a line. Repeat the process moving higher on the bamboo stakes keeping a distance of 4-5 inches between the lines of strings.
Once you have tied all the horizontal lines of strings on the bamboo stakes, you can start tying the strings vertically.
Do the same process where you tie the strings at 4-5 inches distance from each other so that you form a netting.
As the vines grow you can intertwine them with the jute string netting so they will grow vertically and have plenty of support.
The easiest option is to buy a tomato cage from a garden center or nursery. These are especially useful for growing tomato plants because they provide support to the branches growing the fruits.
It’s best to get a tomato cage that can support the weight of the plant you’re growing and has sufficient height as the plant may grow to.
You need to put the tomato cage over the seedling but be careful not to damage the plant. You need to put the end of the tomato cage with the prongs into the potting soil.
Make sure to push the cage so the prongs get deep into the soil and provide stability. Adjust the plant so that most of the foliage is inside the cage and comfortable.
As the plant will grow, you can encourage the vines and branches to take the support of the crossbars on the cage.
Moss sticks are beneficial for vining houseplants such as Monstera or Philodendron. The vining plants can absorb moisture from the stick and grow bigger and healthier.
You can get the moss sticks from a garden center, nursery, or online store. Or you can make one yourself if you spend the time and effort.
The moss stick comes with a prong at one end that you need to put into the potting soil. Make sure to put it deeply so that it gives stable support to the plant.
Then you can tie the vines to the moss stick using twine. You can tie the vines every few inches to the moss stick to keep it stable.
The vines will absorb moisture from the moss stick for their growth. So make sure to water the moss stick at least once every week. You may need to water it twice a week during summer as the moss will dry out faster.
If you’re growing plants on an apartment balcony, you can make use of the existing railing to support vining plants. Just throw the vines over the railing and they would cascade over it.
If you have a grill on your balcony window like I do you can train the vining plants through the sections of the grill. And let them fall out of the window to cascade over the grill.
You could even tie the vines to the grill and train them up the grill. The only problem could be you end up blocking sunlight if the vines get too thick.
List of container plants and required support
I’ve listed down some of the plants you may grow in containers. I’ve tried to provide information on which of these plants need support and what is the best choice.
Do note that some of these plants will have both vining as well as bush varieties. But I will be considering only the vining or weak varieties that need the support as that’s the information you’ll find helpful.
I’ve also created a document with this list of container plants that need support. You can download it here for your reference later.
|Plant||Support Required?||Support Type|
|Chinese Money Plant||Yes||Stake|
|Crown Of Thorns||Yes||Stake|