Using tomato cages for container gardening might seem silly, but if you do it right, your harvests will carry the results!
While many farmers choose to let their tomatoes run wild, those using supporting structures have an easier time managing their plants and getting healthier fruits. It’s easy to use tomato cages in your garden, so even if you’re skeptical, you should at least give it a try!
In this article, I share why using tomato cages is a good idea, which materials work best, and list the pros and cons of different support structures you can use for your tomato plants.
Reasons To Use Tomato Cages For Container Gardening
Tomato cages are used to keep plants from sagging and touching the ground. They help tomato plants grow upwards and support heavy fruit-bearing branches.
Having a planting cage will keep your tomato plants from getting diseases carried by soil. It will ensure a bountiful harvest by preventing overcrowding, drooping, and rot or disease.
Using tomato cages is beneficial to your plants and will also prevent pests like slugs from eating their leaves and fruit.
The Best Tomato Cage Ideas For Container Gardening
Tomato cages can be made from many materials and in different styles. You can make round cages using wire or use pots with branches. Trellises also work great if you want to plant your tomatoes against a wall.
You can buy tomato cages at local gardening or hardware stores or make your own!
How To Make Your Own Tomato Cage For Container Gardening
Making your own tomato cages for container gardening is quite simple. They can be as intricate or simple as you’d like them to be.
Tomato cages can be short, long, wide, or narrow. The best DIY materials for these cases are:
- Old Pallets
- PVC Pipes
- Wooden Stakes
Simple Bamboo and Twine Cage
You can use bamboo and twine to build a simple tomato cage. Start by taking bamboo lengths and cutting them to your desired size. Secure string around each length and secure them to one another in a circular pattern.
Place the cage over your growing tomato plant and secure its branches to the sides of the cage with twine.
Overhead Structure with Raised Beds
Another great idea is building a simple overhead structure to place above your raised gardening beds. All you’ll need to do is secure your tomato plant branches to the sides and top of the frame with twine for support.
Do All Tomatoes Need Cages?
All tomatoes don’t need cages, but having them in place will benefit your plants. They’ll need support to stay off the ground if they bear heavy harvests.
The Best Tomato Support For Gardening: Staking, Caging, And Fencing
Staking Tomatoes for Support
Tomato stakes offer upward support via a rod-like structure.
Pros of Staking
- Staking takes less space than cages.
- Staking rods are easy to install.
- Vines and tomatoes are off the ground, which results in cleaner fruit.
- Fruit ripens quicker.
- Tomatoes will be larger.
- Staking ensures an easy fruit harvest.
Cons of Staking
- Staking requires pruning and training.
- Lack of leaf cover may lead to sunscalding.
- The total yield per plant may be lower due to less leaf cover.
- More water may be needed.
Caging Tomatoes for Support
Caged tomatoes are enclosed in wire or bamboo to protect and keep them upright.
Pros of Cages
- No need to worry about pruning or training the tomato plant.
- Plenty of foliage will provide shade for the fruit.
- Plenty of leaf cover will ensure the soil retains moisture.
- Cages can be easily adapted according to the size you need.
Cons of Cages
- Cages can topple and harm tomato plants.
- Cages take up a lot of space, especially in a small garden or in storage.
- Tomatoes take longer to ripen when cages are used.
Fencing Tomatoes for Support
Trellising or fencing tomatoes is easy.
Pros of Trellising or Fencing
- Requires little space, and plants can be planted closer together.
- Does not require a lot of maintenance.
- Is reusable.
- The trellis or fence provides more leaf cover resulting in better fruit production.
- Harvesting is easier.
- Trellis support is sturdier than staking.
Cons of Trellising or Fencing
- It takes some time to build a good trellis or fence.
- The expense involved can be daunting.
- Plants need to be monitored to be trained and pruned.
Other Methods Used By Tomato Growers
Some tomato growers prefer to use no support for their tomatoes. They simply allow their plants to sprawl, which will yield higher crops. This, however, leaves the plants and fruit vulnerable to pests and rot.
Many commercial growers use a form of basketweave on their tomato plants, while others prefer stringing.
These methods are hardly ever used when growing tomatoes in containers, as the most popular methods for container-grown tomatoes are caging or staking.
Tomato cages can help your plants thrive. If you’re considering using them in your container garden, this is your sign to do it! Your plants will stay healthier, and your fruit harvest will be more abundant!
I hope you found this article helpful and that you’re ready to get started on your tomato cages. If you’ve already had success with using cages, share your tips in the comments! Any questions are also welcome.
Is it better to stake or cage tomatoes?
Staking and caging both have benefits, and you'll have to decide which method will work best in your garden setup.
How do you support container tomatoes?
You can support tomatoes in containers by staking them or using a fence for support. Caging your plants is also an option, but this method might take up too much space if you're planting more than one plant in a container.
What cage is best for tomatoes?
Wire cages are extremely popular for supporting growing tomatoes.
Do cherry tomatoes need a cage?
All tomatoes can benefit from a support structure. While cherry tomatoes don't need a cage, using one will keep your plant healthier and your harvest more abundant.