If you’ve ever had pizza, pasta, or a good sandwich, you know tomatoes are an important ingredient in any dish worth raving about. This also makes the tomato plant a staple in home gardens. Nothing beats the flavor of a fresh, homegrown tomato.
If you’re here, you know you want these juicy fruits in your garden. But what’s the best way to grow them? I’m here to show you how staking tomatoes is an easy and (even enjoyable!) way to get the best tomatoes on your table.
Keep reading to learn how to stake tomatoes – the right way – so you get lots of high-quality tomatoes from your garden this year!
Why Should We Stake Tomatoes?
The tomato is a sprawling plant that will crawl across the ground if left alone. This can be harmful to the fruit you want to harvest. On the ground, they’re at a greater risk of disease, rot, and pests. By staking your tomato plants, you’re lowering the chances of damage caused to your fruit.
By training these crawling plants upward, you’ll not only save space in your garden but grow healthier fruit. These structures support and spread the vines, allowing more of the plant to receive sunlight. This means more growth and bigger tomatoes!
By learning how to stake tomatoes, it’ll be easier for you to access the fruit and care for the plant – making life simpler for your tomatoes and yourself!
What Type of Tomatoes are You Growing?
Before we talk tomato staking, it’s important to decide which type of tomato you’ll be growing. Your two choices are determinate and indeterminate tomato plants. Each kind requires different care.
The determinate tomato plant grows to a predetermined size of three or four feet. It will bear all of its fruit within a two-week span. These plants have smaller vines and can be grown in compact spaces. They’re perfect for small gardens or patios!
Indeterminate tomato plants are larger and appreciate sturdy stakes. They produce heavier fruit over a longer period of time. These plants bear more fruit than determinate plants and will continue until the first frost.
Visit the Tomato Seeds selection available at one of our favorite seed retailers, Hoss Tools. With over 61 varieties, there are sure to be a few that you’ll love!
Caging or Staking?
Your next decision is between caging or staking tomatoes. Each has its own benefits for different plants.
Caging is great for smaller crops like the determinate tomato plant. Start your plant in a cage while it’s young to help support it as it grows. You won’t need to prune or tie off the tomatoes as often because the cage will assist the vines and fruit.
Caging can also work for the indeterminate plant, you’ll just need larger cages to support its size. You can buy cages at the store or build your own as a DIY project. I suggest using sturdy wiring, like concrete reinforcing wire, to build your cage.
Staking involves tying the tomato plants to an upright structure driven into the ground. This is a classic, reliable method that’s also more affordable than caging. To do this, you’ll need to buy the right stakes for your plants and tie the vines with care.
Determinate plants require three-foot stakes, while indeterminate plants need six or seven feet. Make sure they are sturdy enough to support the vines and fruit.
Wooden stakes are a great choice because they’re durable and easy to find. You can tie the tomatoes using something soft like recycled fabric, twine, or string. A material that won’t cut the plant is important!
Choosing How to Stake Your Tomatoes
When learning how to stake tomatoes, there are a few different methods. Below are four of the best ways. Choose an option that will work well for your plant type and your home garden.
The Florida Weave is ideal for gardens with many tomato plants.
Plant the tomatoes in two rows. The rows should be about two feet apart. Drive your stakes at the beginning and end of each row. Then plant a stake every three plants.
Tie the twine around the first stake. Then lead the line in front of one plant and behind the other. Continue weaving until you reach the end. Repeat for the second row.
This is great for potted plants and determinate tomatoes.
For the single stake method, you’ll stake a tomato plant when it’s about one foot high. Tie the vine at 6-inch intervals.
Double staking is perfect for heavier fruit-bearing plants. Drive one stake on either side of the plant. Tie the twine around the stem, then loop it around each stake. Continue to adjust as the tomatoes grow.
Our final option is the string method. This requires a support beam parallel to your growing plants. You want it about ten feet from the ground. For every plant, toss a line of twine over the beam. The line should trail across the floor – you want it long.
Tie a loose knot around the base of the tomato plant with both ends of the twine. As it grows, continue tying knots upward. This will guide the plant’s growth upward.
This is a good option for indeterminate plants that grow big. The string is taut enough to provide support but not cause damage. It also limits the amount of pruning you’ll need – string can be tied to new growth.
How to Stake Tomatoes
Now that we’ve discussed the possibilities let’s learn how to stake tomato plants! Below are some simple instructions.
1. Make stakes
Your stakes should be the accurate size for the type of plant you’re growing. They should have a pointed end to drive into the ground. If not, trim the wood at one end to create a point.
2. Drive stakes
Drive the stakes according to the method you’ve chosen above. The stake should go about one foot into the earth and about five inches from the plant.
3. Tie Plants
Use plant ties, soft fabric, or string to tie your plants. Tie the knots about one inch away from the budding fruit to keep it from cutting into the stem as the plant grows.
Indeterminate plants need more care. Prune away any suckers that aren’t bearing fruit. They drain useful energy from the plant. This creates better air circulation and more abundant growth.
Once you’ve set up your structure, it’s important to maintain the upkeep of your plants! Check on your stakes often, and be sure to water as needed. Using a tomato staking system requires you to water your plants more often.
The only risk here is not using one of these methods in your garden! They’re easy to learn, fun to use, and the best way to get the tastiest tomatoes.
By learning how to stake tomatoes, you’re guaranteed a garden of healthy and delicious fruit at your fingertips.
For more information on tomatoes, check out our Tomatoes page, where you’ll see more posts about the growing and care of tomato plants!