What does a flowering plant need? Support and maintenance.
In Part I of this topic, we dealt with flowering nutrients. Now it’s time to physically help your plants. As their bloom continues, their branches will get heavier with flowers or fruit. This can cause them to bend or even hang down. In some cases this could lead to breakage and lost yield.
Give them a hand.You can support your plants with sticks or trellises of wood or bamboo. These actually have two goals:
- Support. As fruits and flowers gain weight, your plant’s branches will start to bend down. This can end badly. Support your plants by tying heavier branches to a stick. You can also use a conical plant support made of wire. Stick these over your plants. As branches start to bend down, they’ll lean against the support. Tie them to the support at this point, to protect the branches from damage. Don’t use hard wire or pull string too tight around the branches. Although plants won’t grow much during flowering, the branches can still thicken. Wire could cut into the branches, leading to wounds, sap loss and danger of infection.
- Light. Branches hanging down will catch less light. And light is essential to the plant, since it’s one of the things ecessary for energy generation. So help your plant get more light by tying up branches in upwards directions.
Remove old foliage.Once flowering starts in earnest, your plant stops most of its growth. All energy is directed towards the formation of flowers and fruits. You can remove some old foliage at this point. You’ll find this older stuff lower down on the plant. They won’t be as green as young leaves and aren’t catching much light. It’s costing the plant energy to keep this foliage alive, but the leaves aren’t pulling their weight anymore. Remove them.
Some growers choose to remove even more leaves, including technically healthy ones. You can do this, since it does save more energy for formation of flowers and fruits. But trimming the leaves and branches creates small wounds, at a time when your plant is vulnerable to infection. Too much trimming during flowering can also stress your plant so much that it has a negative effect on your yield.