Tomato plants become naturally bendy when they grow taller due to their soft stems and growth habit.
A matured indeterminate tomato plant cannot stand strong without supporting 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. On the other hand, tomato plants with no support don’t bring you the expected harvest and are also susceptible to some diseases.
Besides, different tomato varieties need different types of support, such as stakes, cages, and trellises, based on the garden space, purpose of use, and other conditions.
So, keep continuing to read to learn more about supporting tomatoes.
# Benefits of supporting tomato plants
Supporting tomato plants brings you some benefits and makes your gardening work easier. Some significant 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 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, you can easily protect your yield from the mid-summer storm, strong winds, and heavy rainfall.
Tomato plants can stand firm when they get support. So, they gently hold fruits on their stem, and you can easily pick them up from the fruit cluster when seeing the ripened fruits.
Keep fruits fresh and clean.
None of the fruits of a tomato plant touches the ground when getting the proper support so they can grow fresh and clean fruits with vibrant colors.
Monitor and care for plants easily.
If you need pruning, spraying, or regular monitoring of your plants at that time, supporting tomatoes helps make the job easier for you.
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, three basic types of supporting techniques for growing tomatoes are staking, caging, and trellising.
You can stake your tomatoes with whatever you have on hand. There are different ways to stake your tomatoes to keep them off the ground.
Use the available things surrounding your home and create your design. You can also apply the following popular staking methods.
- Simple stakes:
For the tomatoes, a simple stake means a long (around 6 to 8-foot) sturdy wooden or bamboo 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 solid support. Then, tie the plants up gradually as they grow taller over the season.
Besides, it also helps your plants off the ground and protects them from unexpected toppling due to strong wind and heavy rainfall.
- Tomato ladder
The tomato ladder method performs better for both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. It can also help grow tomato plants vertically, following the other staking benefits.
Furthermore, this will provide fresh and clean fruits and less susceptibility to diseases. Simple staking is best suited for indeterminate tomato varieties, and they need pruning.
This plant-supporting method is beneficial for growing tomatoes in a limited space and is 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 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 that works like a tripod with some extra stakes. This is around 8 feet tall, which trains 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.
Caging is another popular method for growing determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. Caging tomatoes are less susceptible to sunscald due to a lot of foliage.
Besides, tomato plants spread enough branches inside the cage, giving shade to the base of tomato plants and keeping the soil moist for a long time.
- Simple Cages:
Cylindrical or cone shape cages are famous for growing tomatoes. Caging tomatoes don’t need any pruning and tying to keep them upright.
Commercial cages are available in the market, which is comparatively tiny and flimsy. You can also make your 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, comparatively taller and heavier than ordinary tomato cages. These types of caging are best suited for heirloom and indeterminate tomato varieties.
Trellising is a beautiful tomato plant-supporting method to utilize your garden space best. 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 methods to train your tomatoes upwards, such as the following:
- Florida Weave Trellis:
Florida wave is a trellising technique where you can set some tomato seedlings in a single line spacing 2 to 3 feet apart from each plant during transplant.
Then drive a sturdy stake deep into the soil between the gap of each tomato plant and both ends 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 inches high, 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 can stop the transplants from flopping, that means the height of the circle is perfect; otherwise, make it a little bit higher or lower to stop dropping the tomato plants. Then, 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.
On average, you may need around 6 to 7 rows of twine in a growing season to get the harvest.
Florida wave trellis is common to commercial tomato growers and performs better for determinate varieties.
- Wire Trellis
They are trellising the vine-type tomatoes with wire panels to grow them vertically. This technique will give the tomatoes strong support to climb upwards and produce better.
There are different types of wire panels for different types of tomatoes. So, determine the tomato type and the suitable 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 horizontal solid support.
Fencing is the easiest way to support your tomatoes if you already have one in your garden. You can also buy lightweight wire fences 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 are comfortable with various 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. This is because they like specific staking, caging, and trellising designs for different determinate varieties.
# Which tomato plant support best suits me?
Tomato plant support technique depends on some significant factors such as:
It plays a vital role in picking up the proper 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 the most support during the fruits start growing.
Besides, the fruits grow and ripen all at once, so they need support to hold the extra weight. 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 kills them. So, they need support based on your space and purpose of use. However, indeterminate tomato varieties comparatively need taller supports.
If you have space limitations, you should pick up a compact supporting method like a tomato ladder, tower, tripod, or tomato tuteurs. But when you get enough room for your tomatoes, choose to cage or trellis.
Purpose of uses
You can use Florida wave trellising, vertical string trellis, or other cheapest wire trellising methods for commercial purposes. On the contrary, pick the tomato ladder, tower, or tripod techniques for the home garden where you have space limitations.
# Disadvantages of supporting tomatoes:
- It 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 from the tomato plants that are not staked.
The main purpose of supporting tomatoes is to keep the plants off the ground and help the plants produce more healthy fruits. You can make the best output of your tomato plants if you provide the right plant support at the right time.
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