Wire cages can lend a helping hand to many kinds of plants. Some plants benefit from barriers that help keep them safe from predators, and other plants grow best with a little support to hold up their heavy growth. Box-shaped wire cages can be installed above or below ground to solve these plant problems.
Thanks for Your Support
Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.), which grows as a perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, is among the flowering plants that need a little support. The weight of their flowers can pull these plants down to the ground unless their foliage grows through a wire-mesh cage. Many kinds of tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum), which are hardy in USDA zones 10 through 11, grow as vines that scramble along the ground unless they have a wire cage to support their growth. Tomato cages are available in a circular form, but box wire cages are more stable for heavy producers.
No Thanks for Your Intrusion
Some plants grow from bulbs, corms, tubers and roots that are irresistible to many predators, such as mice, voles, squirrels and gophers. Underground boxes or cages made of wire mesh exclude these predators and protect the plants. Place bulbs such as tulips (Tulipa spp.), which are hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8, in a wire cage that you bury underground when you plant the bulbs. Gladiolus, which benefits from an above-ground wire cage to support its top growth, also may need a below-ground wire box if your garden is plagued with creatures that feast on its corms.
Some garden nuisance pests, such as deer and beavers, also may eat bulbs, corms, tubers and roots, but their primary plant damage may be above ground. Deer grazing, marking and rubbing can harm plants substantially. The animals rub their antlers against trees and shrubs to mark their territory and to shed the velvet covering. Their violent thrashing against plants may kill small trees and shrubs. You can protect vulnerable plants by boxing them in wire cages that are at least 4 feet high and staked to the ground.
Wire Mesh Solutions
The type of pest you want to exclude determines what type of wire to use. Typically, the smaller the pest is, the smaller the wire mesh's holes need to be. If you use a wire cage simply to support your tomatoes, you may use concrete reinforcing wire, which has a wide-mesh grid. If, however, you need to exclude small creatures from eating your tulip bulbs, use hardware cloth, which has a small-mesh grid. If you need to keep deer away from tree trunks and shrubs, chicken wire is a suitable material to use.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Gladiolus (Group)
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Lycopersicon Esculentum
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Tulipa (Group)
- Washington State University, Clark County Extension: "T" is for Tulip
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Planting and Care of Fine Hardwood Seedlings -- Diagnosing and Controlling Wildlife Damage in Hardwood Plantations
- Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images