Gardening Growing Tomatoes How To

How to Support Tomato Plants the Ultimate Guide

Tomato plants become bendy by nature when they grow taller due to their soft stems and growth habit.

A matured indeterminate type tomato plants are unable to stand strong without taking any support to take the extra load of plant leaves and fruits. As well as determinate type tomatoes also perform better when getting support during the harvest.

So, supporting tomato plants is very helpful when you are growing tomatoes. Tomato plants with no support don’t bring you the expected harvest and also susceptible to some diseases.

Besides, different tomato varieties need different types of support such as stakes, cages and trellises base on the garden space, purpose of uses and some other condition.

So, keep continuing reading to learn more about supporting tomatoes.

Supporting Tomato Plants

# Benefits of supporting tomato plants

Supporting tomato plants bring you some benefits and make your gardening work easier. Some major benefits are given below:

Keep away from diseases

Supporting your tomatoes with staking, caging, trellising or following other methods can help to circulate more airflow and get enough sunlight. Both of them are very essential to produce diseases free healthy harvest.

The airflow controls the soil moisture and sunlight provides energy to the tomato plants. Besides, the tomato plants up off the ground after getting support. So that the pests and soil-borne pathogens can’t reach them easily.

Protect from unexpected damages

If you follow the proper way of supporting tomatoes then you can easily protect your yield from mid-summer storm, strong wind and heavy rainfall.  

Harvest easily

Tomato plants can stand strong when they get support. So, they hold fruits on their stem gently and you can easily pick them up from the fruit cluster when see the ripen fruits.

Keep fruits fresh and clean

None of the fruits of a tomato plant touches the ground when getting the right support so they can grow fresh and clean fruits with vigorous color.

Monitor and care plants easily

If you need pruning, spraying or regular monitoring your plants at that time supporting tomatoes helps the job easier for you.

Space consuming

If you use stakes for supporting tomatoes it will be more helpful to grow new plants in a limited place.

Allow growing more stems and leaves

Supporting tomato plants receive enough sunlight and airflow that helps to grow more stems and foliage which produce more fruits.


# Methods of supporting tomato plants

Typically, there are three basic types of supporting techniques for growing tomatoes such as staking, caging and trellising.

Tomato Staking:

You can stake your tomatoes whatever you have on hand. There are different ways to stake your tomatoes to keep them off the ground. 

Use the things which are available surrounding your home and create your own design. You can also apply the following popular staking methods.

  • Simple stakes:

For the tomatoes, simple stake means a long (around 6 to 8-foot) sturdy wooden or bamboos stick otherwise rebar.

Usually, it is set deep (around 1-foot) inside the ground during the transplanting time of the tomato plants to let them grow taller with strong support. Tie the plants up gradually as they grow taller over the season.

Besides it also helps your plants off the ground as well as protect from unexpected toppling over due to strong wind and heavy rainfall.

  • Tomato ladder

Tomato ladder method performs better for both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. It can also help to grow tomato plants more vertically following the other staking benefits.

Furthermore, this will provide fresh and clean fruits as well as less susceptible to diseases. Simple staking best suits for indeterminate tomato varieties and they need pruning.

This plant supporting method is very useful to grow tomatoes in a limited space and easy to harvest. Moreover, airflow and sunlight ensure diseases free healthy fruits. It also shows a fancy appearance to your garden.

You may find various designs of ladders in the gardening store or online shop; otherwise, make your own homemade ladder.

  • Tripods and Tuteurs:

Take three long stakes and tie up the top of the stakes together to make it like a tripod stand and set it on your tomato plants 4 to 6 inches deep into the ground. After that let the tomato plants train upwards on the tripod stakes.

Tuteur or French tuteur may be a square-based pyramid shape stake works like tripods with some extra stakes. This is around 8-foot tall which train the tomatoes to grow upwards.

This staking method works better for indeterminate tomatoes. But you can also apply them for determinate varieties or set them over the potting tomatoes.

Tomato Caging:

Caging is another popular method for growing determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. Caging tomatoes less susceptible to sunscald due to a lot of foliages.

Besides tomato plants spread enough branches inside the cage which give shade to the base of tomato plants and keep holding the soil moisture for a long time.

  • Simple Cages:

Cylindrical or cone shape cages are popular for growing tomatoes. Caging tomatoes don’t need any pruning and tying to keep them upright.

There are commercial cages available in the market which is comparatively small and flimsy. You can also make your own homemade tomato cages with heavy materials.

  • Tomato Tower Cages:

This is another caging method for heavy-duty support. Tower caging may be square or triangle shape comparatively taller and heavier than common tomato cages. These types of caging best suits for heirloom and indeterminate tomato varieties.

Tomato Trellising:

Trellising is a wonderful tomato plant supporting method to best utilize your garden space. Advance gardeners sometimes follow this method to keep the plants off the ground and make the best out of it.

There are different types of trellising method to train your tomatoes upwards such as the following:  

  • Florida Weave Trellis:

Florida wave is a kind of trellising technique where you can set some tomato seedlings in a single line spacing 2 to 3-foot apart from each plant during transplant.

Then drive a sturdy stake deep into the soil between the gap of each tomato plants and the both end of that single row. You can also set the stakes every two plants later if you drive the stakes a little bit deeper into the ground.

When the transplants grow around 12-inch high then tie the first stake with twine and make a loop to the second stake at the same height around 8 to 10 inches.

If the loop able to stop the transplants from flopping that means the height of the loop is perfect otherwise make it a little bit higher or lower to stop flopping the tomato plants. Keep continuing looping to the rest of the stakes in a similar manner.

Start a new line of twine about 6 to 9 inches higher every week depending on the plant growth and the tomato varieties. It will help to prevent the tomatoes from flopping over.

You may need around 6 to 7 rows of twine in a growing season on average to get the harvest.

Florida wave trellis is very common to the commercial tomato growers and performs better for determinate varieties.

  • Wire Trellis

Trellising the vine type tomatoes with wire panels to grow them vertically. This technique will provide the tomatoes strong support to climb upwards and better produce.

There are different types of wire panels for different types of tomatoes. So, determine the tomato type and the right types of wire trellis.

  • Vertical String Trellis

This is another trellising method for supporting tomato plants. In this method, you can tie up your tomato plants at the base and string them up with strong horizontal support.

  • Fencing

Fencing is the easiest way to support your tomatoes if you already have one in your garden. You can also buy some lightweight wire fence to trellis your tomatoes off the ground.


# Choose tomato plant support based on tomato varieties

Different tomato plants need different types of support according to their growth habit. Vine type or indeterminate tomatoes comfortable with all types of methods such as staking, caging or trellising.

On the other hand, determinate or bushier type tomatoes need less support than indeterminate or vine type tomatoes. They like some specific form of staking, caging and trellising design for different determinate varieties.


# Which tomato plant support best suits for me?

Tomato plant support technique depends on some major factors such as:

Tomato varieties:

It plays an important role to pick up the right tomato supports. Plants tags and seed packets explain clearly that the varieties are determinate or indeterminate.

Determinate tomatoes need less support and can perform well with a stake until the plants stop growing.  They need most the support during the fruits starts growing.

Besides, the fruits grow and ripen all at once so they need supports to hold the extra weight of the fruits. They need smaller supports because they stop growing after a certain period and start producing fruits.

On the other hand, indeterminate tomatoes continue growing until the first frost kill them. So, they need support based on your space and purpose of uses. However, indeterminate tomato varieties comparatively need taller supports.

Spacing

If you have space limitation then you should pick up a compact supporting method like tomato ladder, tower, tripod or tomato tuteurs. But when you get enough room for your tomatoes then choose to cage or trellis.

Purpose of uses

For the commercial purpose, you can use Florida wave trellising, vertical string trellis or other cheapest wire trellising methods. On the contrary for the home garden where you have space limitation pick the tomato ladder, tower or tripod techniques.


# Disadvantages of supporting tomatoes:

  • Kills your time and effort to make support your tomato plants.
  • Invites some tomato problems such as fruit cracking, sunscald or blossom end rot of tomatoes.
  • Need mulch to hold the soil moisture near the tomato plants.
  • Use more water than unstaked tomato plants.

Conclusion:

The main purpose of supporting tomatoes is to keep the plants off the ground and help the plants producing more healthy fruits. You can make the best output of your tomato plants if you provide the right plant support at the right time.

Sources and Citations:

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