How to Tie Tomato Plants


Supporting tomato plants is a personal choice that most gardeners prefer. Whether using a cage system that supports the stem, allowing the branches to bush out, or using the stake method where plants must be tied onto the stakes, a support system keeps fruit off the ground, eliminating part of the insect problem that can plague tomatoes and helps prevent rotting. Through staking, tomatoes have less chance of breaking off due to the heavy weight of the fruit.

Step 1

Pound stakes into the ground with a rubber mallet at the time of planting to avoid damaging tomato roots. For most varieties of tomatoes that grow large, choose a tall stake made of plastic-coated metal or wood, available in most garden centers and departments. Make sure stakes are at least a foot into the ground for optimal support.

Step 2

Plant seedlings about four inches from the stake. Mulch in a mounding form with straw to help prevent evaporation and retain moisture.

Step 3

Train the tomato plant to grow into an upright line along the stake by removing side shoots and branches that want to bush out. You can remove them by pinching gently at the axils of the plant where new branches develop at the base of leaves. Leave some foliage to help prevent sun scald.

Step 4

Cut strips of pantyhose or use gardening tape that has an elasticity to it to hold your growing tomato to the stake. Wrap the stake a few times with your tie and then loop it around the plant stem but keep it slightly loose--the elasticity of the tie will allow for the plant to continue growing but keeping the space allows for proper air flow around all sides of the stem. Too tight and you could cause mold growth. Tie in a knot at the stake to hold tight.

Step 5

Continue to tie the tomato to the stake and pinch off suckers as it grows.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid pruning with a knife or shears as doing so from one plant to another can spread virus and disease. Do not tie stem right below a fruit cluster as doing so can cause the plant to break from the weight.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tape or stretchy material strips such as pantyhose
  • Stake
  • Rubber mallet
  • Scissors


  • MSU Cares: Staking and Training Tomatoes
  • OSU Extension: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden

Who Can Help

  • Penn State Extension: Home Gardening: Tomatoes
Keywords: staking tomatoes, supporting tomatoes, tomato support

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.