Best Ways to Support Your Tomato Plants
Tomato plants are floppy by nature. If the stems won’t stand upright, don’t fault your gardening skills. That doesn’t mean you should let them droop wherever they please, though.
If left to sprawl, the plants become more prone to disease and the fruit quality can suffer. Choose a trellising system that lifts the plants off the ground and allows for air circulation. Not only will it look tidier, but you’ll grow a bigger haul.
Here are the four best ways to support your tomato plants.
Install wood or rebar stakes at least 6 feet tall at planting time. As the plants grow, tie the stems loosely to the stakes with twine or strips of fabric.
Tripods and Tuteurs
Fashion three stakes into a basic tripod for extra stability in windy regions. Then train a tomato plant on the upwind stake. The weight of the plant will anchor the trellis to the ground.
If you’re feeling fancy, tuteurs made of wood, bamboo, or bent twigs look to add to the look of an ornamental kitchen garden. Simply lash one end of three 8-foot sticks together, spread the untied ends about 3 feet apart and equidistant from each other in a triangle over the tomato plant, and press the feet 4 to 6 inches into the soil. You can also string a length of twine from the top and (loosely) tie it to the base of the plant as an added trellis.
Used commercially for determinate varieties, this training technique supports tomatoes with twine woven horizontally between rows of stakes. You can then just snip the string at the end of the season and compost the plants.
Cylindrical or square wire cages keep tomatoes upright without the need for tying the stems. Commercial versions can be small and flimsy, but homemade cages fashioned from livestock panels will stay strong and durable.