How to Trellis for Tomatoes


A trellis offers tomato plant support. The support keeps fruit and vines off the ground, reducing disease, bruising and damaged tomatoes. Tomatoes have fewer rot problems and dry quickly after dew or rainfall with trellis support, according to Cornell University. Avoid using indeterminate tomato varieties for trellis growth, suggests Cornell University. Place trellis stakes at the time of tomato planting and string when tomatoes are approximately 1 foot tall.

Step 1

Open a pair of pruning shears. Spray both sides of the blades with a mild disinfectant for sterilization. Locate leaves and suckers just below the lowest bloom on the tomato plant. Prune all suckers beneath these with the pruning shears. Repeat with each tomato plant.

Step 2

Fill a plastic spray bottle with undiluted bleach. Saturate each planting stake with the bleach to disinfect and sterilize. Allow air drying for twenty-four hours.

Step 3

Drive a 2-inch diameter stake into the ground, a minimum of 6 inches deep, beside the first tomato plant in the row. Move down the row and drive stakes into the ground, alternating plants. Ideally, space the tomatoes 12 to 18 inches apart when initially planting the tomato garden.

Step 4

Unspool the end of a roll of sturdy plastic line and tie to the first stake 1 inch below the height of the tomato plant. Pull the line horizontally toward the second stake. Loop the line around the stake three times and knot. Repeat down the row until all stakes are lined.

Step 5

Reverse and make a second layered row of line, 6 inches higher than the initial line, at the end of the last row with the last stake. Tie off the line on the initial stake. Cut the line.

Step 6

Lift the first tomato vine in the row up over the line. The vine should rest on the line. Repeat with each tomato in the row. Check tomatoes weekly and guide to the second layer of line as the plants grow. Add additional lines for taller plants.

Step 7

Repeat the process for each row of tomatoes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Twine or rope often does not support the weight of plants yielding tomatoes. To prevent stunted growth, avoid over-pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Sterilized pruning shears
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Liquid bleach
  • Planting stakes
  • Roll of plastic line
  • Scissors


  • "The Great Tomato Book;" Gary Ibsen; 1999
  • Cornell University: Growing Tomatoes Using a Trellis
Keywords: trellis for tomatoes, tomato growing, tomatoes on trellis

About this Author

Lisha Smith writes for several blogs and has freelanced for six years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Greensboro in psychology. Smith has self-published several books. Her areas of experience include gardening, cooking, home improvement, pets and mental health.