Supplies used with espalier plant-shaping techniques
Ties are used to secure a splint to a branch or a splint to a training framework. The best materials for ties are: easy to apply and remove, inexpensive, easy to purchase, and adjustable to annually expanding branch diameter. If the tie is made of a rigid material, it can girdle a branch, hampering further growth. Examples of ties to use with espalier: Green nylon “plant tie ribbon”, raffia, “tie tape”, tape for a Tapener machine, binder ties, binding tube, or foam plant ties
Examples of ties generally to avoid with espalier: Twist-ties, wire, and ropes of any kind.
AM Leonard Company has a variety of plant ties: http://www.amleo.com.
Hand pruners (AKA secateurs) make the cuts that shape the espalier. The very best tool is one that is SHARP. Many local hardware stores sharpen tools for a small price if you do not have this capability at home. If your hand is not quite strong enough to make a cut, then try using a pair of sharp ratchet pruners. Clean cuts made by sharp tools facilitate the plant’s repairs to this damage. Pruners come in different sizes and shapes; see how the tool fits into your hand before buying.
Disinfectant for pruners is used to discourage transfer of disease from one part of a plant to another or amongst different plants. A plastic bottle of rubbing alcohol fitted with a spray nozzle functions very well.
Splints are used to stabilize new growth, and adjust branch angles. They should be strong enough to hold a growing branch, easy to apply and remove from branches, able to withstand weather for several years and attractive enough to stand in for the completed design until fully grown. Bamboo is an ideal material for a splint. Several pieces can be taped together (with duct tape) to achieve the desired length. Six-foot bamboos are terrific for vertical scaffold splints. Four-foot bamboos suffice for other training purposes. Other materials to use for splints are: thick dowel rods, lightweight metal, nylon stakes, or straight branch trimmings from a woody plant
Anti-animal protection may be needed to protect the plant from marauders, such as deer, mice, or rabbits. Avoid stiff plastic wrap around the trunk because putting it on and off, or failing to take it off, can cause unnecessary damage to the bark. Coated chicken wire fencing is an inoffensive option. Benner’s has some pictures of anti-animal fencing at: http://www.bennersgardens.com