Gardening Growing Tomatoes How To

How to use tomato cages effectively

Tomato plants grow upwards easily when they get support. Besides, after holding some matured fruit cluster on the plants they become heavier. Tomato cages provide great support to set them upwards and save them from unexpected soil-borne diseases.

When should I put cages on my tomato plants?

Cage your tomato plants after transplanting them outdoor. Don’t make a delay more than one week after transplanting your tomato seedlings.

However, transplanted tomato seedlings take 7 to 10 days to recover the transplanting stress. Then they start growing rapidly.

So, if you can’t set up the cage over tomato plants in time, they will grow taller. And, taller tomato plants have more chances to toppling over the ground. Once the plant leaves to contact the ground, they will be more susceptible to some soil-borne fungal diseases.

Therefore, I recommend you to cage your tomatoes with in the first week after transplanting. Besides, early caging works as great support for tomatoes to grow well.

How to select the right varieties for caging tomatoes?

Choosing the right tomato varieties is the most important factor for caging tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes need low height caging around 3 to 5 feet tall.

On the contrary, indeterminate tomatoes need larger and stronger cages around 6 to 8 feet in height. So, pick the right cages according to your tomato varieties.

Which is better tomato cage or stake?

Tomato staking and caging both supporting methods have some advantages and challenges. Besides some other factors may vary which method will suit you best. So, you can’t say any specific method is best before concerning the following factors.

Tomato varieties:

Determinate and semi-determinate tomatoes grow of a certain height and start producing fruit. So, you can use low height stakes or cages around 4 to 5 feet.

Indeterminate tomatoes continue growing over the season. So, you need to set longer and sturdier stakes or cages around 6 to 8 feet tall.

Strength of stakes and cages

If you use cheap ring cages, they will be less sturdy to hold a load of large matured tomato plants with fruits. In that case, you can use rebar instead of cages to stake your tomatoes.

On the other hand, if you can manage thicker and sturdier cages to support your tomatoes, variety doesn’t matter.

Pruning ratio

Staking tomatoes need regular pruning and most of the time you have to grow the plants to one main stem. Caging tomatoes may also need pruning if the cage is not enough stronger.

However heavy and stronger tomato cages don’t need any pruning at all.

Budget

Tomato staking or caging also depend on the amount of money you want to spend on your garden. If you want to buy some bulk stakes from a gardening store or online store you can minimize your cost. Besides, the quality and material also vary the cost.

Homemade caging costs around ten dollars or more for each cage. They last longer around 4 to 5 years if you store them properly over the winter. However, you have calculated your time and labor with the cost.

Store brought cages are comparatively expensive than homemade cages. Moreover, the costs also vary depending on the materials and the brand you choose. The store brought cages also last longer if you store them properly.

How many tomato plants per cage?

No matter how big or small your cage sizes are, each cage should contain one tomato plant to grow well.

Different sizes of cages used for different tomato varieties. Usually, indeterminate or heirloom or vine type tomato varieties need larger sizes of tomato cages. These types of tomatoes continue growing over the season until the first frosts kill them. So, they need larger sizes of cages.

On the other hand, determinate or semi-determinate or bush type tomato varieties need comparatively smaller sizes of tomato cages. They stop growing after a certain height around 3 to 5-feet and start producing fruits.

How big should tomato cage be?

Determinate and semi-determinate tomatoes need cages around 14 to 20 inches width along with a height of around 4 to 5 feet.

On the other side, indeterminate tomato varieties need cages about 14 to 20 inches width along with a height around 6 to 8 feet.

Do I need tomato cages?

Tomato plants become heavier when producing fruits. If they don’t get any support to grow upwards, they will start sprawling over the ground during fruiting.

When the tomato plants have contact with the ground, they will be more susceptible to some soil-borne diseases and rotten tomatoes. So, you can’t make a good harvest and fresh fruits without setting any cages or other supports on your tomato plants.

Do determinate tomatoes need cages?

Some determinate tomato plant stems are sturdy enough to take the extra load of fruits if the plants’ height and fruit sizes are small. In that case, they don’t need any cages to support them.

Like dwarf or patio varieties, they can grow without any cages because they never grow more than 3 feet and the fruit sizes are very small. And, most of the time they are grown on containers or growing pots in the home garden.

On the other hand, some other determinate or semi-determinate tomato varieties can grow 4 to 5 feet tall. Due to their height, they can’t take the extra load of fruits during the harvest. So, they need cages.

However, cages provide great support to your tomatoes as well as save the plants from unexpected diseases.  Moreover, they ensure fresh and clean fruits.

Do cherry tomato plants need cages?

Bushy type cherry tomatoes don’t need any cages because their stems are strong enough to support the plant’s uprights.  But the vine type cherry tomatoes need supporting cages.

Do Roma tomatoes need cages?

Roma tomatoes are determinate in type but they perform well when they get supporting cages.

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