Growbag Blog

Garden supports the Growbag way

You can spend a fortune on garden supports nowadays but which are really worth the money? And what can you make yourself to do the job just as well?

In this blog we’ll be sharing some of our tips. Elaine has an ingenious hack with upturned hanging baskets, Laura will be doing some civil engineering with beansticks, and Caroline? Well, keep your expectations low.


‘Floppy’ is very rarely an encouraging adjective, I’d say, and it’s a generally not a good look in a garden setting. Having gone to all the trouble of growing the wretched plants, you often need to help them display their attributes in the manner of belts, braces and bras.

Walls. There is a bit of a knack to attaching climbers of all kinds to walls. You can use trellis or horizontal wires screwed into the wall using vine eyes (if you don’t want to drill into the wall, there are heavy-duty adhesive attachments available to use, though I can’t say we’ve ever tried these). Training climbing rose branches horizontally along wires or across the top of a pergola will also encourage more flowering shoots.

Tie in the stems of climbing roses horizontally, if you can. Result: loads more flowers!

If you’re putting up wooden trellis to support your plants, make sure that it doesn’t touch the ground, or it will rot depressingly quickly. The important thing to remember is never to use wire around the actual plant stems which will eventually strangle them. Jute twine is my usual go-to.

This pretty spring clematis is being trained along horizontal wires on a wooden fence.

One last thing about climbers: if you are supporting clematis on pergolas, trellis, walls, etc. please do it regularly and GENTLY – oh my goodness, those brittle stems break off so easily with my fat fingers!

Make your own. Tall annual and perennial plants can be invisibly supported in a number of ways, and if a flower bed borders a path, we have found that buying builders’ steel rods and bending them into the shape you need, is a cheap and effective way of support the plants. You need 6mm thickness and 3m length generally. Our columnist Louise and her husband made a great little video of how crazy-easy it is to make these – the link is at the bottom.

Bending some builders’ bars is a cheap way of making strong plant supports

Wire hanging baskets. Lower-growing perennials like hardy geraniums can often get a bit droopy in windy or wet weather, and my tip here is to equip yourself with some cheap wire hanging baskets, and put them upturned over the plants in spring. It just gives the plants that extra little secret push-up, and we all need that, don’t we?

A wire hanging basket popped over lower-growing perennials keeps their heads nicely above water!

Like the steel rods, they last for years, and I re-purpose mine to protect my pots of tulip bulbs through the winter from the bloomin’ squirrels.


Pea sticks. It’s better all round if you can get hold of some locally produced, sustainable byproducts of coppice woodland management such as pea sticks. Better for the environment, better for the climate and better for small rural woodsmen. Pea sticks can be pushed in to support herbaceous perennials and can be used as climbing frames for both dwarf sweet peas and edible peas in the veg patch.

They’ll be up those pea sticks in no time

Bean poles. Another sustainable product, it’s amazing what you can do with simple bean poles if you apply some laws of physics to their arrangement. In a technique passed down through generations of allotmenteers we support our runner beans on a A Frame that could rival the Clifton Suspension Bridge for strength and stability. It’s so impressive that I’ve been moved finally to share the secrets of its construction in a short video link at the end.

Runner bean A frame step 4
One of the Seven Wonders of the World – our runner bean A-Frame

Mesh. With tall herbaceous plants it’s often a case of providing a bit of support half way up. Encasing them in a bamboo and string perimeter fence is one solution but a more natural look can be achieved by letting them grow up through a mesh arrangement that allows the blooms to spread out in a more natural way, and some recycled bean netting has worked well for Caroline’s neighbours.

Plastic netting plant support
As the plants grow up the mesh is hidden but there to ‘lift and separate’ when needed

I’ve taken the method one step further this year with my very top heavy lilies, after a fortuitous discovery of some steel reinforcing mesh in a local metal skip …. C &E say it makes my garden look like an abandoned industrial landscape, but we’ll see plenty of these winning gold medals at Chelsea in a couple of weeks lol 😜 It’s our feature picture at the top this week – what’s your opinion?


Blooming heck, Laura’s runner bean set-up is clearly a must if you’re feeling a bit intimidated down on the allotments. That should shut ‘em up!

TBH sophisticated plant supports are above my horticultural pay grade, requiring forward-planning, spatial awareness and installation time. All I know is that every year on my birthday (May 1, gifts still welcome) I get my wigwams out.

This involves hauling my B & Q bamboo canes from the shed and setting up a series of pyramids tied with a bit of twine, et voila! you’ve got all you need to grow your sweet peas at zero cost. Full disclosure – I find the canes too smooth for my infant plants to get the hang of things entirely, so I make a little cat’s cradle of twine between the poles to keep them pointing up (we’re back to Elaine’s ‘little lift’, ladies!)

I may not be an expert gardener but I can be depended on to get my wigwams out every year

Obelisks – on the subject of pointing up, obelisks are absolutely fantastic for climbing roses, clematis etc and come in beautiful shapes these days.  Remember though if you’re buying one on-line you’ll likely have to construct it 😱 They can be proper fiddly if the reviews are true.

If you want one that stays in place under the weight of a hefty bush rose such as ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ or ‘William Lobb’ in British weather, make sure you pay a bit extra for a really solid structure with ample ‘prongs’ at its bottom to anchor it in the ground.

A solidly built obelisk can add beauty to your garden quite apart from its role as a support for climbers!

Vase-shaped frames are more manageable and are brilliant for medium-height plants like this Hydrangea sargentiana, which is generally firm but can flop at its extremities (boy it’s getting warm isn’t it). Of all the options on offer, this is the one I might choose for myself at the end of the week!

Eliminate the risk of flopping with a stout base around the stems

NB In our opinion supports most likely to drive you round the twist are these plastic coated inter-locking jobs. As fast as you hook them together they come adrift and so flimsy that, like your best mate on a night out, often end up all over the place and needing to be held up themselves. Your views?

Are these the most infuriating plant supports on the go? Or do you love them?

NB – This is the link to Laura’s video on how to make a runner bean frame.

More NB – Here’s the link to Louise’s video on how to make plant supports out of steel rods.

Louise’s Great Plant this Month has a pig farmer to thank for its provenance, but one that clearly knew how to produce a knock-out plant! Another great plant tale from Louise here…

Are you weeding right now? Please don’t do any more without getting yourself a razor hoe. It’s without doubt the best tool ever for this task! Ours are still at last year’s price, do have a look here:

More NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

11 replies on “Garden supports the Growbag way”

Thank you for your blog,I really look forward to receiving your email on Saturday mornings. I like to read it with my first cup of tea, if my dog allows me the peace and quiet to do so. I love the way you all give great advice and suggestions that really work, along with the humour and banter. It sets me up for the weekend. Now all I have to do is act on it.

Oh Sandra, it’s so special to us to receive a message like this early on Saturday! I can’t tell what chaos it is sometimes to get the blog ready for publication, with frantic messages flying between us often late into Friday evening – and we do sometimes wonder what we’re doing it all for. Then we hear from someone like you who really GETS it, and we all recover the spring in our step and spend the weekend with silly grins on our faces. Thank you so much for writing in – I hope you keep enjoying our musings for a long time to come (exuberant dog permitting!) All the best, Elaine (and the other two…….)

Thank you so much Ladies for your blogs every week, I really enjoy them. The plant support ideas are fantastic, I will give some of them a go. Happy gardening everyone. Love Callie

Thank you, Callie! I hope we can keep entertaining you with our scribblings for a long time to come. And I also hope that some of our plant-support schemes actually work for you! All the best, Elaine, L and C

Aw, don’t be brow-beaten by those two. Bamboo (remember that amazing material) along with peasticks or whatever is to be found. Personally, i don’t like
handling anything metal -in the garden. We all have our preferences: neat, loose, smart or casual. Thank you all for your blog; always enjoyable and informative.

Scott it’s quite alright. I knew that being absolutely the right sort, you would be siding with me and not the gruesome twosome. We’ll let them get on with their civil engineering projects and be happy with our bamboo sticks! Thank you, as always, for taking the time to leave a comment. Wishing you a great week ahead, Caroline

Thanks so much! Your video on making plant supports came at just the right time for us. We’ve made 5 plant supports today and it was so easy with the plank and the tubing! Brilliant! 👍

Hi Charlie – glad that we inspired you to have a go at making your own it’s very satisfying isn’t it! I forget to mention in the blog that silver branches are pliable enough to be woven into plant supports too, and you often see them used at RHS Wisley, so remember to collect a few next winter when you’re out doing some birch pulling with the heathland management team at the National Park… Laura x

Another great read, packed of full of useful information coupled with a little of risqué humour (or was that just me , hmm ) . Keep up the great work ladies , looking forward to your next post.

Us risqué? never…🤣 Its good to hear you’re enjoying our gardening tips Jay and having a bit of a giggle with us along the way! Best wishes Laura

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