Posted on 02 June 2008 by

Tomato Cages and Stakes and Trellises, Oh My!

By Kira Hamman

A hotly debated topic among tomato gardeners is how to keep those precious spheres off the ground.

Letting plants sprawl along the earth makes them more susceptible to pests and disease, not to mention that it makes harvesting the tomatoes harder.

But while everyone seems to agree that keeping tomato plants upright is the way to go, exactly how to do that is hardly unanimous.

Some people are cagers. They swear by those metal ice cream cone-shaped contraptions that you plunk over the seedlings while they’re small, letting the plants grow up and through so that they’re supported. Cages are easy to use and low-maintenance, but not what you might call visually pleasing.

Other people are stakers. If it was good enough for their great-grandparents, it’s good enough for them. And, indeed, stakes are good enough, especially if you are vigilant about tying the plants onto them properly (loosely, but not too loosely, and frequently enough that the branches don’t start to head south). These days stakes even come in bright colors and twisty shapes. This is not your father’s tomato stake.

And then there are the trellisers. Their tomatoes might be mistaken for espaliered fruit trees, spread artistically along some perforated wall-type structure. Trellising requires frequent attention, a certain understanding of the growth habit of the plant, and, of course, a trellis. Trellis people spend most of the summer in their gardens and have a lot to show for it.

So — which one are you?

12 Responses to “Tomato Cages and Stakes and Trellises, Oh My!”

  1. our friend Ben Says:

    My favorites are the V-shaped tomato towers that (if memory serves) Gardener’s Supply sells. I’m sure that’s not what they call them, though. But they’re super-sturdy and attractive, unlike tomato cages (on both counts). If you use them, though, it’s best to tie those tomato plants up…

  2. deb Says:

    I seem to do something different every year. This year I am growing them along a fence and tying them. Last year it was stakes. I have sworn off of the cages as they always fall over on me.

  3. Michael Nolan Says:

    It is interesting. I honestly don’t have a preference either way. I tend to deal with each plant on a case-by-case basis and do what I feel each one needs.

    One day I will experiment with doing two or three plants each way to see if there is much of a difference.

  4. Kira Says:

    Good idea, Michael! I think I’ll add that to my science fair project idea list.

  5. Michael Nolan Says:

    All of mine are in containers this year, which is another experiment entirely! Just imagine all of the experiments we could come up with.

  6. Stacy Says:

    We’re trying two different things this year…round metal cages and and triangular shaped metal cages. So really, we’re only trying the one thing. 🙂

  7. Compostings Says:

    Last year, all stakes. This year, cages. And I’m sure I’ll be doing some stakes also to support stray, eager vines. Heck, maybe I’ll throw in a trellis and do it every way possible!

  8. Dani in NC Says:

    This is my first time growing tomatoes and I’m trying to do it on the cheap, so I went with stakes. So far, so good. However, my plants aren’t heavy enough yet for me to see if the stakes will be enough.

  9. Anthony Says:

    I tried staking for the first time last year and I’m hooked. Keeping the main stem tied to a stake makes it easier to see and trim away all the suckers. Plus it looks a lot neater.

  10. Michael Mcguire Says:

    I use cages-

    Falling over is easy to cure. Buy some plastic tent stakes at Walmart or the likes. They are cheap and use 3, put them in at an angle. No more problem. Cages are cheap, but not really attractive made of welded wire square.

  11. kimberpenny Says:

    We’ve had spectacular plants every year for the last 7 years. They get HUGE and fall over, as we feel guilty pruning back those limbs that already have blooms on them. The best luck we’ve had comes from caging and then tying the cages to large 6′ stakes to keep them from falling over. It’s not cheap the first year (we have 20 stakes set in a perfect grid with a plant in the middle of each square), but we re-coup our expenses the first year and really save the next with 3-4 varieties and 3-4 plants of each variety. We also use a really strong weed fabric to minimize the effort and maximize the production–we’re on our 3rd year with the same batch of fabric, stakes and cages–all still in great condition.

  12. Chris Says:

    I am looking to make my own stakes this year ~ most likely out of rought cut wood from a mill. Any suggestions on best wood ?

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments