Staking and Caging Tomatoes

Do you recommend staking tomato plants or using cages?

Question:

There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and it really is a matter of personal preference. In my garden, I like to stake indeterminate tomato varieties, and cage determinate ones. Here are some considerations.

Advantages of staking: It saves space; you can grow more plants in a given area; you get an earlier harvest; it’s easier to pick tomatoes and work around plants; and it keeps vines off the ground, keeping fruit clean and less susceptible to rot. Disadvantages of staking: It takes time and effort to stake, train, and prune plants; staked tomatoes are more susceptible to cracking, blossom end rot, and sunscald; and total yield of staked plants is often lower.

Advantages to caging: You spend less time removing suckers, pruning, and training plants; plants grow naturally and support themselves; caged tomatoes develop enough foliage to provide adequate shade for ripening fruit and to protect the fruits from sunscald; and shaded soil retains more moisture. Disadvantages of caging: Cages are expensive; they require more space; and in late summer, some tomatoes (such as indeterminate varieties) tend to fall over from the weight of the fruit.

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