There are multiple ways to trellis tomatoes, in this post I will cover what factors should be considered to help you choose what might work best in your garden.
Type of Tomato – Determinate vs. Indeterminate
There are primarily two types of tomato plants, determinate and indeterminate which describe the growing style of the plant.
- Determinate tomatoes grow to a certain height, then set their fruit and it all ripens at a similar time.
- Indeterminate tomatoes grow more like a vine and will continue to grow taller as your season allows. They will gradually set and ripen their fruit over time from the bottom up, allowing for a continuous harvest.
Considering the growing style of the tomato varieties you plan to grow into your trellising system is essential. The indeterminate tomatoes will require significantly more support as they get taller.
Tomatoes can be susceptible to many diseases, most commonly blight (early or late). This means if you garden in a humid environment with a reasonable amount of rain, airflow will be very important. The easiest way to maintain airflow is to prune your plants to one or two main leaders, this is done by trimming off suckers. A sucker is growth which can be found between the central stem and a branch. If these were allowed to grow you would end up with many leaders and lots and lots of growth.
If you live in a dry climate, allowing multiple leaders can allow for increased fruit production and is something to consider.
- Traditional Tomato Cage – something like this
- These traditional tomato cages can be found at most hardware stores and are inexpensive. They tend to be relatively short and therefore aren’t a great fit for indeterminate tomatoes.
- If you are growing determinate tomatoes they might be worth a try. In my experience, these work best for peppers.
- Stake or Tomato Spiral
- When using a stake or a tomato sprial you will be pruning your tomato to a single leader. You will then either tie or wrap your plant around the support as it grows taller.
- I’ve used the Tomato Spirals in the past, they are easy to relocate as you change the layout of your garden. I have had issues with my indeterminate tomatoes out-growing the spirals and they can have issues with supporting the weight of the tomato plants as they get very tall.
- Using string which is supported overhead is a common system used in greenhouses. You prune to one or two leaders and then twist the plant around the string. Alternatively you can use a tomato clips like this.
- This system can also be used for the “lower and lean” method if your climate allows.
- Other – There are other methods out there to support your tomatoes including things such as the Florida weave or using cattle panels. The sky is the limit.
How I’m Trellising Tomatoes in my Garden
The Southern Ontario climate where I garden fits into the hot, humid with reasonable rainfall category, so I often experience late blight. This means that I want to maintain airlfow and prune my tomatoes to a single leader. In the past I’ve primarily used the stake or spiral method however this year I’m trying the string with tomato clips. So far I’m liking this system, but will report back at the end of the season on how it worked in my garden.
If hope you found this article informative about how to trellis tomatoes. Let me know in the comments below what methods you’ve found work best in your garden.