No matter how beautiful your flowerbeds are, the yard is a living space that kids and pets romp through. While it’s great to have the play space, there are times when your favorite flowers are the ones that take the hit in summer games. Repairing bent or broken flower stems can be as simple as reaching for a roll of tape.
1. How It Works
Flowers have some of the same type of internal structure as people. They have a circulatory system that carries nutrients and pith that holds a stem up the way your bones hold you up. Wrapping tape around the damaged area is like a having a broken leg put in a cast or splint. The tape holds the stem straight and lines up the injured areas so the plant has a chance to heal the damage. Keeping the broken stem straight can also allow sap to flow freely to the portion of the plant above the break, keeping the rest of the plant healthy.
Stems that are thick, bear a large part of the plant’s weight or are badly damaged may need more support than tape alone. Depending on the size of the plant, you can tape toothpicks, bamboo skewers, drinking straws or pencils to the plant to support the damaged stem while it heals. If the kids used up the last of the tape, you can also use twist ties to hold a plant splint in place.
Woody or shrub flowers can also be grafted back together, although you may need heavy-duty tape for this to work. Cut the stems at a long angle with a sharp knife so they are smooth and meet well. Make a small slit a little more than halfway down the cut to make a tongue in each stem. Lock the tongues together so the stems meet and wrap well with tape to keep them tightly joined. You may also need to stake the stem to support the weight of the bush. Your bush will have a bump where the graft was made once it heals as proof of your surgery.
4. Crushed Stems
There’s only so much tape can do. Stems that are torn and ragged or badly crushed probably won’t heal, no matter how much tape you use. In this case, the best thing to do is take a deep breath and cut the stem down past the damaged section. The plant will not waste energy trying to heal a wound that is beyond help or trying to get water and nutrients to the section of the flower above the damage. It will heal the cut and either store energy for next growing season or put up a new stem with new flowers, depending on the type of flower.
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