Supporting the tomato plants is a key aspect of growing tomatoes. As they grow, leaves become big and forming fruit weigh down the branches so they cannot support their own weight. We live in North Wales and the climate is too cold for tomatoes to produce sufficient harvest outside, we opted to grow cherry tomatoes in large pots in our conservatory which acts like a greenhouse. Our tomatoes are now very tall and still growing so we built a structure to support them!
There are a few options that can be purchased to support tomato plants, however as we had ten plants we wanted to have something cost-effective, and didn’t mind spending some time to put the structures together. Supporting with just a vertical piece of string doesn’t seem as robust but would be very simple. The metal or plastic cages were certainly too expensive for us to justify and the design is very similar to this cane/string/wire construction.
In this post, we wanted to share the approach we’ve used to support our cherry tomato plants in case it’s useful for our readers.
Materials and Equipment
Once tomatoes are in their final destination and about 35 cm tall, they will need support. We potted up tomato plants to about 35cm deep 30cm diameter pots and used the following equipment to build a support structure.
- 1.8m (6 ft) bamboo canes – 4 per plant
- 1.2m (4 ft) bamboo canes – 2 per plant
- Garden wire
- Garden twine – e.g jute
- Hand Saw – Ideally a higher number of teeth per inch (TPI) to avoid splintering
- Longnose pliers
- Tape measure
If you are in the UK, we found Wilko to have the best value bamboo canes, wire and twine.
First, insert the central 1.8m bamboo cane around 3cm from the main stem being careful not to disrupt the roots too much. Although we started with an 80cm cane it would be best to start with the larger 1.8m cane from the start to save adding another later on. Add another three 1.8m bamboo canes around the outside as close as possible to the edge of the pot in a triangle formation.
Make the support triangles by cutting two 1.2m Bamboo Canes into a total of 3 x 40cm sections. Assemble by using the garden wire at each corner, tightening the wire by twisting the end using the pliers (see photos below). You will need two triangles per tomato plant (so two 1.2m canes per plant).
Attach the first triangle to the top of the three canes, again using wire and the same method. It can be temporally held with some tape or a helping hand. Loop the second triangle over the central cane and push down to about midway. This pushes the canes outwards and makes the attachment with wire easier.
Attach the central cane to the middle of the top triangle using string (see photo below).
With the main frame fully assembled add the garden twine for supporting the tomato branches. Start at the bottom and make sure that the tomato stems are supported parallel to the main stem. Wrapping the twine around the stem to form a clove hitch keeps the twine from slipping down the bamboo canes.
The frame structure is now complete and ready to support! It’s important to ensure the main stem is attached at regular intervals using a loose piece of twine together with ensuring leaves and stems are supported by the string as it grows larger.
We also had our first flowers this weekend on all 10 of our plants, very exciting! Read more about it here. As always, any questions please feel free to reach out!