Best Way to Support Tomato Plants Laden with Fruit?

When growing tomatoes on your own, you soon realize the tomatoes are far heavier than what the stems can handle.  The plant will bend, lean, buckle, and droop under the weight of its own fruit.  So, you want to investigate the best way to support tomato plants laden with fruit.

The best way to support tomatoes is to use a wire mesh cage. This supports the tomato plant vertically and can also help combat high winds by reducing lateral movement. Another advantage is that the holes in the mesh give plenty of tie-off points to secure trusses laden with fruit.

Supporting Tomatoes Is Important

Giving support will help tomato plants withstand inclement weather and high winds.  It can provide a host of benefits to the plant too.  It can help keep pests and animals away, prevent breaking stems and rotting fruit, or overcrowding.  If they aren’t supported, the damage will be inevitable.

Supports also make harvest time much easier because you can locate all the fruits without excavating your garden or potting pail.  This means it will be easier on your hands and your back, allowing for faster productivity.

Materials for Tomato Support

You can do things to help your tomato plants stand strong and tall while they bloom and form into fruit.  There are a few different methods to do this, and it will depend on several factors.

  • What is the tomato plant’s soil consistency?
  • Is the garden area well-drained or wet?
  • How many plants are in the garden, and what size will they be when mature (determines how much support is needed)?
  • The kind of material you use can also make a difference. For example

Initial Considerations When Supporting Tomatoes

First, you want to evaluate how much space you have, where you plan to grow, how many plants you intend to grow (or already have), which type of tomato you’re growing and what kind of materials you have available.  But, fashioning your own support is better because you can customize it to your needs.

The Perfect Growing Area For Tomatoes

Your space and place of growing will be a huge determining factor in what kind of support you’ll use.  If outside, consider the amount of rain, wind, and other weather that could affect your tomato plants.  Animal and human activity will also influence this part of your decision.

If you’re in a small space or have an apartment patio, consider growing them upside down or using a simple stake.  But, if you have a large garden space in your backyard, you can use a trellis, cage, or cordon.

Number of Tomato Plants to Grow

If you only plan on growing one or two plants, then simple stake support should suffice.  But, if you plan to grow more than three plants or create your own little patch of heaven, something like a trellis will be essential.

Large plants require large supports, and it is important to realize that your plants will grow over the season and carry heavy loads.

Which Tomato Variety Is Best For Your Needs

Next, you have to think about the type of tomato you’re growing.  If they’re big and bulbous, like beefsteaks, they will require more sturdy support than grape tomatoes.  For instance, if you’re only growing one beefsteak plant, you’re going to want to have a cage or use stakes at least.

Choosing a Support For Tomatoes

When you determine your goals and resources, consider what kind of support will be pragmatic to your setup.  There are several methods available, and you should think about each and whether the logistics are going to be practical for your purposes or not.

Using Fences To Support Tomatoes

In a backyard situation, avoid using your fence as the sole support for your tomatoes.  Fences made of wood will quickly rot and weaken the fence.  Some solid panel fences made of metal may cause oxidization. 

Not only will this adversely affect the fence, but it can also affect the taste of the tomatoes.  Chain-link fences are okay, but your tomato plants may become vulnerable to hungry animals, or your tomatoes could get stuck in the openings.

What is Upside Down Tomatoes

In recent years, the idea of growing tomatoes upside down is gaining popularity.  You don’t have to support the tomatoes at all, making it even easier and more hassle-free than using traditional support.  You water from the top and all the nutrients and moisture run down into the plant.

These comprise containers that hang from a hook installed into the ceiling of a patio or hung on a standing hook.  You can make your own by drilling a hole into a handled bucket or garden pot.  Of course, you can also purchase one designed for inverted growth. 

Garden Design When Growing Tomatoes

If you are planning an entire garden, you might want to consider certain companion plants that will help promote the tomatoes’ growth and help them stand.  This way, you won’t have to use any support and allow the permaculture to provide everything your garden needs. 

So long as you’re mindful of overcrowding and nutrient competition between plants, it can be a beautiful self-sustaining system.

Best Type Of Stakes To Support Tomatoes

A string and a thin, sturdy piece of wood is a simple and traditional way to support your tomato plants.  This is a perfect solution for when they begin sprouting, so you can train their branches and stems from growing in a more uniform position.

You can make stakes out of old mini-blind wands, wooden dowels, or an old, thin pipe.  You could even use fresh branches from your own garden pruning.  There are gardening supports and dowels you can buy, but any straight, sturdy, and fairly thin stick will do. 

Grab some string, rope, ribbon, or sandwich ties and affix the plant’s stem to your support.  Always make sure you tie the plant secure so it won’t unravel.

What Are Tomato Cages

There are a variety of cages you can either buy or create for your tomato plants.  Because of the complexity and engineering that goes into a cage, you may want to consider purchasing a towering obelisk or a cage comprised of metal, wire, or wood.

Wooden Contraptions To Support Tomatoes

If you want to try your hand at creating your own cage, consider using branches from your yard or local forest.  Ensure they’re fresh, so they’re pliable and workable into a lattice circle. 

With a gentle hand, bend the plants into a dome-like structure and weave them in the same way you would see a fence.  This method also works well with bamboo or any other kind of wood available, so long as it’s bendable enough.

Lattice Boxes for tomatoes

If you have old pieces of inflexible wood, you can interlace them to create a square or rectangle structure for your tomato plants rather than a domed one. 

Obelisks to support tomatoes

When you expect tall tomato plants, an obelisk might be better than a cage or a stake.  This is a versatile wooden structure that’s sturdy, and you can lean a plant against it.  You can use an old wooden ladder for this purpose too.

How to Use Wire ; Metal Cages To Support Tomatoes

Almost any gardening center or home improvement store will offer wire or metal cages specific to tomato plants.  They aren’t too expensive, but you can fashion one out of chicken wire, a hollowed old metal table, repurposed metal fencing panels, used pipes, etc.  You can either bend these into a dome, create a box, or even a ladder. 

There is a little warning about using metal as support.  If the metal has any amount of rust, do not use it with your tomatoes.  Rust will rob the soil of nutrients and ruin the taste of the tomatoes.  Of course, you can try to sand it off, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

How to Cordon Tomatoes

Cordoning, or stringing up, your tomato plant is good for gardeners who lack space or protect plants from animals.  You can hang a mesh cloth or cross-hatched wire fence over, above, and around your tomatoes.  Then use something like hemp twine or sandwich ties to hold the plants up to the support.

This doesn’t have to be intricate or involve many pieces of material; you can make an at-shape with branches, piping, or dowels and string the plants up from that.  If you can’t hang something straight over the plants, you can make an A-frame structure to encompass it.  This is ideal for indoor growing and apartments.

Tomato Trellises

Trellises are great for growing tomatoes in the garden because they allow for vertical growth and take up very little room.  These are great to use against your fence, as long as the fence is stable and resistant. But it is advisable to have a free-standing one.

When looking to purchase a trellis, some fancier designs are not only beautiful but practical.  There are ones that fold, expand or arch and come in a variety of colors and materials that may add to the aesthetics of your garden.

But you could also build your own out of metal, bamboo, willow, or other tree prunings from your yard, as mentioned above.  You can use old pipes, fish netting, wood palettes, or chicken wire to create a trellis for your tomatoes.

Supporting Tomato Plants

Tomatoes are a delicious and versatile fruit.  You can make various sauces, toss them in salads, put them on sandwiches, and can them for overwintering consumption.  So, growing these beautiful and bulbous gifts of the earth is not only smart but will save you money.

Knowing how to keep these beauties up and supported will make harvesting easier, produce better fruits and encourage straighter growth.  Using a little creativity, resourcefulness, foresight, and planning can help prevent potential problems later on.

Conclusion on Supporting Tomato Plants Laden With Fruit

As discussed during this article, Tomato plants that are laden with fruit are burdensome; they require a powerful and substantial support system to keep the plants upright and grow well. Hopefully, during this post, you have found a way that you can use to help you support your tomato plants at home.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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