All Caged Up: How To Use A Tomato Cage

Growing tomatoes can be a difficult process – particularly when their vines aren’t properly supported. Using a tomato cage can keep the plant upright, encouraging better growth and tastier tomatoes.

Tomato cages are a brilliant way of supporting your plants, but only when used correctly. Many well-meaning gardeners end up doing more harm to their plants than good by mistreating them. This article will teach you how to use tomato cages properly.

All Caged Up: How to Use a Tomato Cage

What Type Of Tomato Needs A Cage?

Determinate tomatoes grow quickly and stop growing when they reach about three to four feet tall. They produce lots of fruit at once, making them ideal for canning and cooking. Determinate tomatoes need cages to support the large weight.

These cages can be purchased locally at home and in garden stores.

Indeterminate tomatoes are very productive plants. They can grow tall and wide. They need space to grow. You should plant them in rich soil, but for these types of tomatoes, you will most definitely need a cage.

Some of these types of plants have been known to grow beyond 7 feet tall, so they will certainly need something – whether that’s a branch, stake, trellis or cage – to grow against. 

What Type Of Cage Should You Get? 

Tomatoes need more than a thin wire basket to grow properly. Tomato plants need a sturdy structure to climb up and get sunlight. A cone-shaped cage doesn’t provide enough support for tomatoes to grow well.

A tripod is a simple but effective way to grow vegetables. People often make tripods out of bamboo or other materials. Metal tripods are more durable than wooden ones.

Tomato cages can be square, round or triangular. The significant differences between these and the cone cages are that they don’t flare at the top. These cages are stronger than the cone cages because they provide equal support throughout the structure.

You can use them for many years, so the price is quickly made up for.

How To Use A Tomato Cage?

While it may seem quite intimidating when you are first confronted with a tomato cage, it really is very simple to set it up and start growing your tomatoes in no time! All you need to do is follow the easy steps below. 

Start With Young Tomato Plants

Tomatoes should be planted in a cage after they’ve been watered and fertilized. Putting them in the soil before they’re mature can cause damage to the plant.

Evenly Space Out Your Tomato Cages

Tomatoes should be planted at least two feet apart. A tomato cage should be at least three to four feet tall. Indeterminate tomatoes need a taller cage than determinate.

RELATED: Vegetable Tomato Leaf Curl Virus: What Are the Causes & How to Fix Them?

Securing The Tomato Cage (With Soil)

Properly anchoring your tomato cages in the soil requires a lot of effort. You need to use a hammer or the weight of two hands to firmly press down your tomato cage into the soil. Don’t let the cage tip over because it may fall on you. Compact the soil around the base.

Securing The Tomato Cage (With Soil)

Vines should be supported by being pulled through the bars of the cage. This prevents the vine from growing out of the cage and becoming too big. Also, the cage should be deep enough to prevent the plant from touching the bottom of the pot.

If you don’t wish to intertwine the vines through the cage, the vines should be tied loosely to the cage with garden twine. Pruning should also be done regularly.

Support The Tomato Plant

Tomatoes need to be protected from cold weather and windy conditions. After planting, use soft twine, yarn, or string to tie and guide the tomato vines into the cage. Secure the foliage and its vines by tying them together with soft twine, yarn, and string. 

Remove any dead leaves, so new shoots aren’t hindered. Monitor the plant as it grows, pruning the branches that are dead, crowded, or dragging down.

Don’t Tie Your Vines Too Tightly

Tomatoes should be tied to cages loosely enough to allow air circulation but still support the plant. You shouldn’t tie them so tight that they get crushed or smothered by the cage.

Tomatoes need to be trimmed regularly to avoid them getting too big. You should cut off about 30% of the leaves to get the most out of the tomatoes.

Get The Right Size Of Cage For Your Tomato Plant

Tomato plants need to be supported by a sturdy structure to help them grow tall. This is why we use cages to contain our plants.

You need to buy a heavy-duty tomato cage. A heavy-duty tomato cage is more expensive than other types of tomato cages, but you will save time and money if you buy a heavy-duty tomato cage.

This is because they are designed to withstand particular weather conditions, heavy tomato plants, and animals trying to eat from the plants. 

Cone-shaped cages offer less support than cylindrical ones. They’re not the best choice for tomatoes.

How Do You Know If You Really Need A Tomato Cage? 

Tomatoes need a sturdy support system to grow. Cages provide the right kind of support for determinate tomatoes. You should choose cages if your plants are bush-type tomatoes.

Vines need cages or stakes to grow properly. A trellis offers more stability than a cage, and it allows vines to reach higher up. Stakes are not as stable as a trellis will be, and they do not allow vines to grow as high. 

Ultimately, the type of support system you need will depend on which tomato plant you decide to grow! 

Making Your Own Tomato Cage

You can buy a tomato cage from any store or online retailer. However, if you don’t wish to spend any money on a tomato cage, you can very easily make your own out of wood or metal!

The easiest way to build your own cage is to find yourself some remesh. It is recommended that you have one sheet per cage, to ensure that there is enough structure to hold up your plant.

If you fold this remesh into a cylinder and secure it with a material like galvanized wire, you can secure it into your soil with a couple of tall, strong stakes. 

Now, your plant will be able to grow alongside this cage with enough space to spread out. This ensures that they won’t overlap each other or infringe on each other’s root area. 

RELATED: What Is Eating Holes in Your Tomatoes? | Causes and Solutions

Will Stakes Work As Well As A Tomato Cage?

Tomatoes should be grown in a cage to ensure that they get enough light. However, if you don’t give them a cage, they can also use stakes or trellises to grow. You should provide them with at least one type of heavy-duty structure that they can grow against to help them thrive properly. 

Cages and stakes are both used for supporting tomato vines. Stakes are more convenient than cages because they are easier to move around, simpler to make, and cheaper to buy. However, cages are better for protecting plants from wind and rain damage.

To Sum Up… 

Tomato cages may look complicated, but they are incredibly easy to install and use. There are a variety of cages you can buy, but we would recommend using a round cage. Plant your tomato plants along the inside edge of the cage, and either weave its vines through the cage or loosely tie the vines to the cage to keep them supported. 

Most, if not all, types of tomato plants will need a cage or similar product to make sure they grow properly. If they don’t have a good support system, they won’t be able to reach the sun properly and your tomatoes will be smaller than normal.

Editor’s Recommendations

Do Pots Need Drain Holes? Plus Importance of Good Drainage for Plant Health

To The Rescue: How to Save Tomato Seeds

Cal-Mag for Your Plants: All The Necessary Information, Benefits, and Uses