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How to Tie Up Tomato Plants: The 4 Best Methods to Support Your Garden

One of the keys to growing thick, juicy tomatoes is ensuring they can grow in the right conditions. This is why learning how to tie up tomato plants is so important. For new gardeners, tomatoes are one of the easiest plants to get started on.

However, that doesn’t mean you can just drop a few seeds in the ground and forget about them. Creating the right structure for your tomatoes to grow is vital. Some people tend to get a bit intimidated when it comes to tying up tomato plants since there are so many different ways to do it.

But don’t sweat it. In this guide, we’ll explain how to tie up tomato plants using a variety of methods and discuss the benefits of tying tomato plants.

A gardener tying a tomato plant to a stake. How to tie up tomato plants.

How to Tie Up Tomato Plants: Why Tomato Plants Need Support

 Before we talk about how to tie up tomato plants, it’s important to understand why you should. By tying tomato plants, you’re providing the needed support for the plant and its branches to bear the most fruit possible.

You’re also protecting your tomato plant from mother nature, as many plants loaded with fruits can topple over during bad storms.

The last thing you ever want is for your tomatoes to come into contact with soil. This can ruin them in various ways, from being contaminated by soil-borne diseases to becoming infested with common pests.

How to Tie Up Tomato Plants: About Tomato Stakes, Cages, Trellises, and String Trellises

In this section, we’ll discuss the different techniques for tying up tomato plants.

1. Tying Up Tomatoes With Tomato Stakes

A tomato plant attached to a stake with black twine.

 How to stake tomatoes:

  • First, buy a six to eight-foot-tall tomato stake. These stakes are typically very narrow. You can also use other objects like rebar, as long as it’s slim enough to tie the string around the plant and the stake.
  • You also want to try and plant the stake downwind. This way, your plant will lean into it during windy days.
  • It’s also important to stake just after transplanting. This way, you can ensure you’re not damaging your plant’s roots.
  • Set your stake roughly three to five inches from your plant and drive it at least a foot into the soil to ensure it remains stable during heavy storms.
  • As your plant grows, tie the plant’s stem to your stake using a soft tie. We suggest using tomato twine. You can also use tomato clips or coated wires sold at nurseries. Leave a few inches of slack. This way, your tie doesn’t cut into the tomato stem as it grows in width.
  • Add more ties as the plant continues growing up the stake. You’ll know when to do this because the plant will start to flop over.
  • Be sure to prune your tomatoes to remove outward suckers and unwanted branches routinely.

2. Tying Up Tomato Plants Using Tomato Cages

A pear tomato plant supported by a tomato cage.

How to Use Tomato Cages

  • Tomato cages are simple to install. First, push the four prongs at the bottom into the soil around your tomato plant.
  • Next, tie the lower vines to the bottom rung on the cage. You can use something like rubber bands, sewing thread, organic cotton yarn, or dental floss. But be sure not to tie them too tight, so you can allow those vines to grow thicker and not injure your plant. I like nylon string because it’s gentle, strong, and stretchy.
  • If your cage needs more support to handle the extra weight of your heavy fruits, you can also use two wooden stakes or rebar on opposite sides. Just drive them into the ground about 12 inches deep alongside the cage and tie them to the cage using twist ties or other material.
  • Don’t forget to prune any dead vines or leaves so your plant’s thriving parts can receive more nutrients.

Also, here’s a neat trick for growing even taller tomato plants in cages.

  • Follow the steps above once you’ve put your first cage into the ground. Take a second five-foot cage and flip it upside down.
  • Next, using a few twist ties, secure the top of your grounded cage to the top of your upside-down cage.
  • And now you have a super-tall tomato cage!
  • You can similarly stake your cage for extra support and stability for your future growth.

3. Tying Tomato Plants With Single Stem Tomato Trellises

The trellis system I will discuss is the single-stem trellis system. This type of trellis aims to limit growth and foliage to what’s produced directly off the tomato plant’s main stem.

This system requires you to prune (or pinch) off all suckers, and a few side stems. The suckers are usually found on your tomato plants in the crook of your side stems in that little bend between the side stem and main stem.

The reasons for using this type of trellis system include:

  • Larger tomatoes: A plant with fewer flowers puts more energy into its fruit and can develop big, whooping tomatoes! But those big tomatoes come at a price because all that pruning means your plants produce fewer fruits.
  • Beat the Blight: When you notice your bottom leaves turning yellow, that will most likely be caused by early blight. When you limit the foliage on your tomato plant, you also restrict the transfer of the fungal spores that travel from the ground to its leaves. Plus, you have more airflow, which also can also prevent disease.
  • Managing multiple tomato plants: Trellising is a great way to manage more than one tomato plant as you can plant them closer together. This method benefits growers who begin their seeds indoors and have a higher germination rate than expected. Using this technique, you can fit many more plants into a garden with limited space.

How to Create Single Stem Tomato Stake Trellises

  • To create a single-stem tomato trellis, simply plant a tall 8-foot stake next to your plant and train the main stem to grow up the stake by tying the main stem as your plant grows.
  • You’ll need to cut off all suckers, and with your side stems, you’ll have to keep a close eye on them to ensure you don’t have any split stems.
  • Also, for sagging side stems growing fruit, you may have to string up a little crutch to the stake to support the stem until your fruit ripens.
  • Once that fruit’s ready to pick, you can prune off the entire stem.

How to Create Single Stem String Trellises

Another way how to tie up tomato plants is using a string method.

  • To set up your string trellis, place 5-foot T-posts roughly six feet apart and connect them t the top using PVC couplers.
  • Next, run the rebar horizontally at the top of your string trellis. Then tie your organic cotton yarn or sting to your rebar and anchor it into the ground alongside your tomato plant. You can do this in a number of ways, such as tying the string trellis to the base of your plant just beneath the first side stem. You can also use trellis netting.
  • As the plant grows, you can attach the main stem using tomato clips or another piece of cotton string.
  • Be sure to prune away all suckers every day or every other day.

How to Tie Up Tomato Plants: Tying It All Together

Closeup of a staked tomato plant and the red tomatoes growing on it.

As you can see, there are quite a few options when it comes to how to tie up tomato plants. But most of them share the same concepts of support, stability, and adaptability so your tomato plant flourishes by focusing energy on its fruits while staying safe from pests and disease.

Want more tomato content? Then visit our Tomato Plants page for growing and care guides, tips for the best tomatoes, and tasty recipes for enjoying your harvest!