Tomatoes: Staking, Supporting and Trellising

Tomatoes: Staking, Supporting and Trellising

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Most tomato varieties will need staking or trellising to keep plants manageable, prevent vigorous tomato varieties from overwhelming other nearby vegetables, maximize growing space and maintain garden tidiness by requiring tomatoes to grow up rather than outward, allow for easier harvesting, and to reduce or prevent disease and pest problems caused by tomato fruits and stems resting directly on soil.

Install support or trellises when germinating seeds or while seedlings are small. This will help prevent later damage to plants that may be caused by driving stakes through their root systems and when untangling or forcing stems to retrain to support.

Support can be provided with manufactured or handmade wire cages, wire tomato baskets, garden fencing, stakes with string line spaced at intervals of about 6 to 12 inches, or trellises. Tomato stems may grow vigorously in the direction of sunlight. GardenZeus recommends open, airy support that will not block sunlight to any plants or their lower leaves, and that allows fruiting stems to be supported without being shaded. If you are growing tomatoes in rows, try using stakes connected or interwoven with strong jute twine.

This indeterminate tomato will quickly outgrow its wire cage.

Many indeterminate varieties, particularly indeterminate hybrids, will quickly grow too large for wire cages and are most effectively supported both vertically, using stakes, and horizontally, using jute interwoven or at multiple levels between stakes.

A very robust tomato cage!

Tomato plants often need be tied loosely to each level of their support as they grow. Wider tie tape or strips of cloth may be less likely to girdle or cause damage to stems than string and twist ties. Keeping up your trellising and training is important to help encourage healthy plants, and to avoid the tomato-wow moment of coming back to the garden after being away to find that your small, well-behaved tomato seedlings have turning into a sprawling, tangled mess.

GardenZeus has customized growing information by plant and zip code. To get started with growing tomato, enter your zip code here.

Other articles on tomato include:

The GardenZeus Guide to Starting Tomato Seeds

The GardenZeus Guide to Watering Tomatoes


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