However, they can reach their optimum size and taste only if you help them stay healthy.
One important task in Tomato gardening is choosing and installing support for them.
Caging is a reliable method used by experts to support Tomatoes. Let’s discuss more about installing cages for Tomatoes.
How to Use Tomato Cages
To install a tomato cage, position the plant in the middle and push the cage in the soil. Secure the cage with stakes and test it for stability. It is vital to cage the Tomatoes when they are young, and the cage should be made of a sturdy material that can support the mature plant.
Steps to Install a Cage
- Position the cage in such a way that the Tomato plant is in the middle. This applies to both potted and in-ground Tomatoes.
- Press the cage downwards and make sure the bottom edges of the wires are buried deeply in the soil.
- You can use a hammer to gently push the cage downwards at least 6 inches deep in the soil. This will ensure the stability of the cage.
- Perform a push and pull test to ensure the cage is stable and secured.
- You can attach additional stakes to the cage to support it. The stakes should be tied using wire or twine.
- Tie the hanging vines to the cage using thread or cloth strips. Repeat this process for all the Tomato plants in your garden.
- Make sure you maintain correct spacing between the Tomato plants. Most growers suggest a minimum 2 ft spacing.
- As the plant matures, you can train the branches to grow along the cage and prevent them from crowding the fruits. Good training will ensure that your plant has excellent airflow and growth structure.
- If the current cage is too small for your Tomato plant, you can stake two cages to make a larger cage. Tie the cages together using zip ties.
- Ideally, your cage should not have any sharp edges, but if it does, you can mark them with colored duct tape to make them visible.
- Cages for potted Tomatoes should be selected according to the size of the container. For circular pots, choose circular cages, and for square pots, choose square cages.
DIY Tomato Cage
If you are low on budget or cannot find the right size cage in the market, you can use a homemade cage created using concrete reinforcement wire or fencing wire.
Make sure the wires have space for the growth of mature Tomatoes. Aside from wire, you’ll also need cutters in trimming them.
Cut the individual wires and bend them to create a cylinder. Make sure you bend the sharp end of the wires into loops to secure them.
The top edges should be smooth, but the bottom edges should be shaped in such a way that they can act as an anchor in the soil.
Cages for Tomatoes
Uncaged Tomatoes can break due to the weight of fruit or fall prey to diseases and infection. Cages provide structural support and protect your precious Tomatoes from pests or diseases.
Trellis or stakes can also provide support to your Tomatoes, but cages are a sturdy choice for long-term plant health. You can buy a premade cage or DIY one yourself.
Cages are used by Tomato growers for the following reasons:
- Support the fruit-bearing branches
- Provide plenty of room for plant development and protect the fruit from sun scalding
- A space-saver for a small garden
- Can prolong your Tomato harvest for the season
- Force the plant to grow vertically
- Reduce the maintenance such as pruning or pinching the foliage
Determinate Tomatoes need a cage to handle the weight of multiple
Tomatoes that ripe at the same time of the year. Whereas indeterminate Tomatoes need caging for their final growth.
I have noticed that the caged Tomatoes have better foliage growth; as a result, the soil remains shaded throughout the day and retains more moisture.
If you use a proper cage, the determinate Tomatoes will not require extra maintenance or pruning.
The store-bought cages are viable for determinate Tomatoes that reach a maximum height between 3-4 ft, but they can hardly support the indeterminate varieties.
They are usually conical or cylindrical in shape with a narrow base. You will also find three-ring cages designed specifically for Tomatoes.
Since the maximum height of indeterminate Tomatoes can vary depending on the growing conditions, they will soon outgrow the cage and even topple.
A thumb rule is to use Tomato cages that are 14 to 18 inches wide and have a height of at least 6 ft. For determinate Tomatoes, a 4 ft high cage would be enough.
No matter the kind of cage, the timing of installation matters a lot.
Installing supports after the plant has matured is difficult. Therefore, to avoid damaging the plant, I would suggest installing cages once the young seedlings have established themselves.
Choose the cage carefully after studying the growth habits of your Tomato variety because caging can limit the plant from reaching its maximum size.
Tips for Caging Tomatoes
- Do not add cages to newly transplanted Tomatoes; you might damage the young roots.
- If you don’t have enough space in your garden or the Tomatoes are planted closely, it is best to install a metal cage. Their flexibility and thin wires make it easier to install them in tight areas.
- If you want the vines to grow upwards, you should tie them to the cage. This encourages an overall vertical growth for the Tomato plant.
- You can trim or prune the damaged leaves while caging the plant to encourage healthy growth.
- Proper caging can protect your Tomatoes from rot or diseases. You can even install plastic sheets over the cages to protect the Tomatoes from frost damage.
- Never allow the cages to be overcrowded with foliage, or fruit will take longer to ripe.
- Before installing the cage, check that your hand can pass through the grids of the cage. If the grids are too small, you will have trouble harvesting the Tomatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Use Tomato Cages
Can I make the homemade Tomato cage using any type of material?
To protect the cage from rust and other environmental damage, I would recommend using galvanized materials for your DIY Tomato cage.
What is the biggest benefit of caging Tomatoes?
Caging will prevent your Tomato plant from crawling on the growth. Crawling makes the plant vulnerable to rotting, pests, and disease attacks.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.