How to Care for Staked Tomato Plants


Caring for staked tomato plants largely depends on whether you have determinate or indeterminate tomatoes planted. Determinate tomatoes, sometimes called "bush" tomatoes, have been bred to grow to a certain size and produce flowers and fruit at a certain time. Early tomato varieties are usually determinate and will not produce fruit further into the season. Indeterminate tomatoes will keep growing and producing fruit until the first frost, as long as you prune and harvest them regularly. Seed or seedling variety information will tell you whether your tomatoes are determinate or indeterminate.

Step 1

Prune suckers on both determinate and indeterminate tomato plant varieties as soon as they appear. Suckers are small offshoots of the larger vines that bear fruit. To prune, grasp the sucker between your thumb and forefinger. Bend it back and forth until the sucker snaps off. Do not use pruning shears, as they can cause large wounds that leave your tomatoes susceptible to disease.

Step 2

Apply tomato fertilizer per the manufacturer's instructions. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so it is very important to make sure they have all the nutrition they need.

Step 3

Water your tomatoes regularly. Blossom-end rot, which is exactly what it sounds like, is caused by a combination of steady heat and inconsistent watering. When tomato flowers have been fertilized, the tomato grows behind the flower blossom, which clings to the end of the tomato until it shrivels and eventually drops off. Make sure to water your tomato plants daily, especially in very hot weather.

Step 4

Harvest ripe tomatoes regularly. This is less important on determinate tomato cultivars, as they will produce tomatoes only at a certain period in their growth no matter what you do. With determinate varieties, however, vigilant harvesting is the key to season-long production.

Step 5

Prune suckers on indeterminate tomatoes as they appear. While you will have to prune determinate tomato cultivars only at the beginning of the season, the same is not true of indeterminates. Continual pruning drives the plant's energies into the tomatoes it is growing on its true vines.

Tips and Warnings

  • While tomatoes should be harvested regularly, do not harvest them before they are ripe. Allowing them to ripen on the vine will quickly acquaint you with why you have chosen to grow tomatoes yourself, rather than purchasing them at the supermarket. Supermarket tomatoes are picked while still unripe, so they can be transported to the store for sale without going bad. Unfortunately, their flavor suffers because of it. Do not let this happen to your homegrown tomatoes. If you or family members smoke, do not handle the tomato plants directly after smoking. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after smoking to avoid transmitting tomato-tobacco mosaic disease. If possible, do not allow anyone to smoke anywhere near your tomato plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Large container for tomatoes
  • Tomato fertilizer


  • The Frugal Gardener; Catriona Tudor Erler; 2001
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Tomato-Tobacco Mosaic Virus
Keywords: growing staked tomatoes, staked tomato care, tomato plant care, caring for tomatoes, tomato gardening

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.