Bamboo plant supports are increasingly popular with many gardeners, as they are inexpensive, easily modified and come in many types, from stakes to trellises. They are made from the fast-growing stalks of various bamboo species, which are actually types of grasses.
Advantages of Bamboo
Bamboo has many advantages as a tool for supporting plants. It is very strong, lightweight and while it has a high degree of stiffness, it has just enough flexibility to allow it to bend a little without breaking. It is very inexpensive and it is a favourite of eco-minded growers because bamboo is one of the world's most renewable resources. It grows extremely quickly, with some types growing two or more feet in one day.
Bamboo as a tool for plant support has few disadvantages. It is not as durable as metal supports, as it does degrade eventually. It is not suitable for some shapes, such as rings or traditional tomato cages. It can harbour insects or other pests.
Types of Supports
Bamboo plant supports come in many types. Stakes are the most common. These are simply straight pieces of bamboo stem, cut in various lengths and diameters. Common sizes range from two to eight feet in length and 1/4 inch to one inch in diameter, although other sizes are available. Trellises are another common bamboo application. Trellises are a two-dimensional grid of straight pieces of bamboo fastened together with twine, nails or other means. Trellises are used mainly for climbing vines such as cucumber, squash, beans, peas or various flower types like morning glories or roses. Trellises themselves require some type of support, usually a fence or some type of arbor. Bamboo tepees are popular as a stand-alone support, essentially a cone-shaped simple trellis, made from three or more straight bamboo stakes, joined together at one end, and the other ends spread out and placed on the ground. U-shaped supports are also popular. These are long pieces of bamboo bent into a "U" shape while wet, in such a way that the "legs" of the U can be pushed into the ground and used like a double stake. Collapsible cages in various shapes are also available. Pieces of bamboo may also be lashed or tied together in many ways for custom support applications.
Tools For Making Your Own Bamboo Supports
Only a few simple tools are needed to make your own bamboo plant supports. A hand saw and some baling twine are essential. A hammer, small nails or brads and a tape measure may also be useful. If large or elaborate trellises or cages are planned, a hand drill may also be desired.
Where to Buy Bamboo Supports
Most garden centres or home improvement stores sell some type of bamboo plant supports. Many big box stores with garden departments will also carry these garden tools. If there are none of these resources near you, many online sources exist for ordering bamboo plant supports.
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