Tomato Cages, Spirals and Stakes

tomato cage

Steps toward disease prevention for your tomato plants can be as simple as providing them with a solid support to keep their leaves and fruit off the ground, such as cages, spirals, and stakes.

Diseases often spread in the damp dirt and mulch surrounding the base of the plant. While stem and roots of tomato plants are quite resistant to disease, when their leaves or fruit are touching the ground it is much easier for diseases to infect them.

With this in mind, the diligent gardener will not allow tomato plants to sprawl along the ground. Instead, you want to use a vertical support, such as a tomato cage, either spiral or cube-shaped, or tomato stakes. This allows the plant to grow upwards and keeps the bottom leaves from making contact with the ground, where they would be more prone to contracting diseases.

    tomato cages

  • Tomato cages come in a few different shapes, mainly cubed or cylindrical. Soon after the tomato plant has been secured in the ground, the gardener needs to put the tomato cage in place. The plant should be directly in the center of the cage, and the stakes should be pushed into the ground to a depth of about 4 to 6 inches, making sure that none of the roots have been pierced. Tomato cages are great at keeping the leaves and fruit from touching the ground. Also, if the plant begins to lean or starts falling from the weight of the tomatoes, the cage reinforces the plant and prevents the fall from happening.

  • tomato spirals

  • Supports also come as tomato spirals. These include a pointy, metal pole that stakes into the ground and is circled with a spiraling cage-like structure. The stake is inserted into the dirt near the base of the young tomato plant, and it grows up into the spiral cage. The spiral design is convenient because it is easy to access the plant for pruning and maintenance. The plant is allowed to grow upward through the spiral, which provides support on all sides of the plant.

  • tomato stakes

  • Tomato stakes provide a backbone of support for the plant, and are hammered into the ground near the base of the plant. The stakes are made of metal and contain holes at different intervals where the plant can be tied to the stake with wire-ties throughout growth. The stakes provide a solid support system for the base-stalk of the tomato plant, while allowing easy access for maintenance.

Comments from Other Gardeners
  • LilyRose says:

    We used a method to prop up cherry tomatoes called twining. We set up a support in the center of a long bed with posts at either end and wire stretched between the posts at 1 foot intervals. Tomatoes were planted next to the wire support system. As they grew, we used twine to gather the branches and pull them towards the the wire supports making sure to still allow for good air circulation. Every couple of weeks we twined some more. This system was excellant for the usually wild and out tfo control cherry tomatoes.

  • Nick says:

    I have used all of these methods to stake tomatoes and know that it is very important to keep the leaves and the fruit from touching the ground. I trim the bottom leaves off the plants and as I harvest the fruit from the lower stem, I generally trim more. Of course you don’t want the fruit exposed to the sun or it will scald but you do want to encourage air circulation and prevent leaves from touching the ground. Another good idea to keep staked plants disease free is to mulch heavily. Just be sure the mulch does not crowd the stem of the plant. Added benefits of mulching include weed control and moisture retention.

  • Julie says:

    I plant my cherry tomatoes next to the garden fence. (post and wire) and use the fence as a trellis. My husband is always looking for re-purposed things to use for support. Recently he came home with a load of bamboo poles already cleaned. We will tepee these for support. We also have an old brass headboard at the end of one of our raised beds for support.

  • healthnut says:

    I was at a yardsale the other day and they were throwing out 4 of those wire Christmas trees that you put in your yard because the lights didn’t work on them anymore. I scooped em up and can’t wait to get my tomatoes vining on them!

  • Mary Anne says:

    I am loving the velcro tomato ties. They come in a roll and you cut off whatever you need. Wrap the tie around the plant and it is easy to expand or move it as the plant grows. And healthnut, I love the Christmas tree idea! I always say better in my yard than the landfill!

  • LilyRose says:

    What a great idea healthnut! Please send photos when your plants cover them. I am currently using long bamboo poles that my husband found on the side of the road. I tied them teepee style. Actually I have never spent any money for tomato supports!

  • Theresa says:

    We have problems with rabbits and deer eating our carrots and corn but for some reason they don’t seem to bother our tomatoes. Two years in a row, I babied our garden just to come out in the mornings to find that it was wiped out by critters.

    Our solution was to build a chicken wire fence around the garden and instead of using more to stake our tomatoes, we just planted them right at the fenceline and trailed them up the fence as they grew. Now we have a beautiful living fence!

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