How to Grow Vertical Tomatoes

Overview

There are two types of tomatoes that you can grow: determinant and indeterminate species. Determinate tomatoes are small, bushy types that grow upright and develop fruit quickly. Indeterminate types of tomatoes take a long time to reach the fruiting stage, but will bear fruit until they are killed by the first yearly frost. Indeterminate types will grow best if you support them in cages or tie them to stakes so that the plants grow upright.

Step 1

Select a spot in full sun and rich, loamy soil to grow your tomato plants.

Step 2

Add 1 to 2 pounds of a balanced (10-10-10), granulated garden fertilizer per 100 square feet of your garden. Work the fertilizer into the top 2 inches of the soil with a rake.

Step 3

Open a planting pocket in the soil that is as deep as the tomato plant's root ball and the stem of the plant up to the topmost leaves. Space indeterminate tomatoes that you plan to stake about 2 feet apart. Tomatoes in wire cages should be spaced 3 feet apart.

Step 4

Strip the lower leaves from the plant. Place the plant and root ball into the planting pocket.

Step 5

Fill in soil around the plant so that it is buried up to its topmost leaves. The plant will sprout roots at every point where you removed a leaf.

Step 6

Water the soil with 1 inch of water per 1 inch of soil per week.

Step 7

Feed tomatoes with a starter fertilizer by dissolving 2 tbsp. of a (5-10-4) liquid fertilizer into a gallon of water. Pour one cup of solution at the base of each plant.

Step 8

Drive an 8-foot long stake into the ground to a depth of 2 feet in a location 2 to 4 inches away from the plant. Do this within two weeks of planting to avoid injuring the roots of the plant. Tie the tomato to the plant with strips of nylon hose or polyethylene plant ties every 12 inches up the stem. Tie the stem to the stake in loose figure-8 configurations, with the stem in one loop and the stake in the other.

Step 9

Mulch around the base of the plant to hold in moisture and choke out weeds and grass that would compete for nutrients in the soil.

Step 10

Allow lateral suckers to develop along the lower limbs of staked tomato plants. This will help shade upright tomato plants and prevent sun scald.

Things You'll Need

  • Balanced, (10-10-10) fertilizer
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Indeterminate tomato varieties
  • Garden hose
  • Liquid (5-10-4) fertilizer
  • Tomato stake
  • Polyethylene ties
  • Straw mulch

References

  • Washington State University Extension: Vertical Gardening
  • NC State University: Intensive Vegetable Gardening
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Trellises and Cages to Support Garden Vegetables

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University Extension: Tomatoes
Keywords: growing tomatoes vertically, raising tomato plants, indeterminate tomato cultivators

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."