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Your Tomatoes Need Some Support

Your Tomatoes Need Some Support

Do all tomato plants need support? In a short answer, no. But here's the real explanation: There are two types of plants, determinate and indeterminate, each with a different growing habit. Most tomato plants tend to be the indeterminate type, meaning that the plant continues to grow - more like a vine, needing support to keep the plant upright. Determinate types include varieties like "Patio," which resemble a small tree, and will more or less top out at about 24 to 30 inches. They have a more rigid stem and grow more upright rather then laying on the ground.

Ok, so how do you support tomato plants? The most common way - and easiest - is to purchase tomato cages. These are metal supports with a series of three or four rings attached at intervals to a set of legs. The cages are placed over the plants and set into the soil. The plants grow up through the rings which keep the plant from falling over and prevents the tomato fruit from coming in contact with the soil.

Another method of support is to drive a stake or small post into the ground near the plant. As the plant grows, you simply use a plastic tie or old nylon stockings cut into 1inch strips to secure the plant to the stake. Do not tie too tightly as you do not want the material to cut into the stem.

Some gardener ask us if other plants, such as squash, cucumbers and peppers, also need support. Peppers are like the "Patio" tomatoes and grow upright on fairly sturdy stems. Squash (including zucchini) grow lower to the ground and make more of a bush with long leaf stalks. They also don't need the support.