In the gardening world, you either grow tomatoes, or you don’t grow tomatoes. They take a certain crew, ready to do whatever is necessary until they can at last, bring their tomato harvest to the bragging table. Growing tomatoes isn’t hard, it just takes work and dillengence. But the reward? That shiny, bright red, gorgeous, stunning tomato fruit! One of the ‘must haves’ are good and sturdy tomato plant supports. Better than those cheap, flimsy things you find at the home improvement store. These DIY tomato cage and trellis ideas are exactly what every good gardener needs so they can claim the biggest, the reddest, the most gorgeous tomato at the end of the season. If you want to grow tomatoes but aren’t sure how to go about it, we have included a quick primer right here, along with some additional resources. If you are an accomplished tomato parent then you need no more from us. Except maybe these tomato cage ideas. And if you are in the “don’t” category? No worries. These tomato cages are perfect for growing all flowers, vines and veggies that need a little extra support!
Tomato Growing Basics
If you want to know all about growing tomato plants, we want you to learn from the best. And frankly, we live in the Pacific Northwest, where it isn’t at all easy to grow healthy plants unless you are truly dedicated to finding the right varieties. Needless to say, that doesn’t make us experts. But, we know who are. We found a couple of true expert websites for you that will give you all the tips, tricks and secrets to growing the best tomatoes in your garden. ‘Farmers Almanac‘ has great guidance for anyone new to growing tomatoes, from start to finish. Want to grow them in pots? Then check out our post on Growing Tomatoes in Pots!
Why do tomatoes need support?
Tomatoes can be heavy fruits, and can weight down the plants until the fruits touch the ground. Not only is this an invitation for pests, disease and rot, the weight of the tomatoes as they grow can actually break a plant in half. That, my friends, pretty much will put a damper on any tomato growers harvest.
So you need to create tomato supports, to allow the fruits to be properly propped up, but also to allow good air circulation to prevent diseases, and easy access to the plant to check for pests and to harvest fruits. Before you choose whether you need a tomato cage, trellis or stake, you need to know what type of tomatoes you are growing.
Determinate, or bush tomato plants grow exactly like their name would suggest… in a bush form. These plants can vary in size, so make sure you choose a variety accordingly. There are dwarf tomatoes that will grow well in pots, or large bushes that will supply enough tomatoes for the whole neighborhood, but might even be taller than you!
Bush tomato plants benefit from a tomato cage that will allow the plant to grow within the cage, supported on all sides. Staking can be used for smaller varieties.
Indeterminate tomato plants, or vining tomatoes, grow upward but not as much outward. They would be best supported by creative trellis ideas allowing them to get to the height they need to, but allowing you easy access to the vine. So let’s get to the solutions for tomato support, no matter what variety or type you choose to grow!
DIY Tomato Cages from Wood
We love this inexpensive DIY tomato cage made from wood by ‘The Handyman’s Daughter‘. It’s a simple project, but offers your tomatoes enough support and air circulation, no matter how tall or wide they get! If you happen to specialize in a certain variety of tomato, you can customize this cage to be wider or taller, depending on the need. Made from cedar 2×2’s, some brad nails and wood glue, this will last for years. Cedar is a naturally rot resistant wood, so you don’t have to worry about chemicals leaching into the soil. You know… the very soil that’s growing your prize tomatoes! Download her free plans, and be ready for when those seedlings go in the ground. Oh, bonus? This is a great tomato cage for pots, too!
‘Creating Mary’s Home‘ made rectangular tomato cages so that they could put two plants in each cage. (Go read why they did that!) They also used wood staples instead of brad nails for a faster project. Also great if you don’t have access to a brad nailer. Most people can get their hands on a staple gun. Be sure to use heavy duty staples for a project like this! These are sturdy enough to stand up to wind and rain, and even large determinate tomato bushes.
‘BHG‘ uses pressure treated wood and wood screws to create a wood tomato cage that will last many years. We all have our opinions on using pressure treated wood in the vegetable garden. Pressure treated wood is impregnated with certain chemicals to make it rot and weather resistant. And, it works. Pressure treated lumber can last much longer than untreated wood. But if you are concerned about the use of chemicals, check out this post over at ‘Fine Gardening‘ for more info on whether it is safe.
We are in love with these teepee style DIY tomato cages over at ‘My 100 Year Old Home‘! Made from spruce or pine and wood screws, these will hold up to a lot of weight. Did you know that the triangle is the strongest shape on earth? So if you grow a heavier variety of tomato, think about using the laws of physics to make sure you keep those drooping fruit safely off the ground.. Tons of step by step photos for this tutorial. Tons. Oh, and a video too! You literally can’t go wrong here, even if you are a beginning builder.
Metal Tomato Cage Ideas
These metal tomato cage raised beds may be one of the best ideas to come to tomato growing… well, ever. The cages themselves are made of metal cattle panel, and then set into individual wood raised beds. Each individual tomato plant gets the good drainage and fertility a raised bed provides, along with superior tomato supports. You need minimal tools to create these cages, and this tutorial has step by step photos and directions. (There are only 5 steps!) From “Radical Geezer”, a Vietnam Vet, BTW, over at ‘Instructables‘.
‘Joe Gardener‘, one of our favorite gardening Podcasters, has a great video on how to make metal DIY tomato cages that will last. Check out his complete tutorial over on ‘YouTube‘. Also check him out on our post about the Best Gardening Podcasts.
DIY Tomato Cage from PVC Pipe
Check out this super easy tomato cage idea from ‘My Abundant Life’ over at ‘Hometalk‘. Made with PVC pipe and rebar, this one will last as many years as you want to grow these gorgeous red fruits! Simple instructions and supply list.
Tomato Trellis Ideas
This is a PVC tomato trellis DIY made by ‘The Living Farm‘. Super easy instructions on how to make this trellis, perfect for vining tomatoes. PVC pipe is inexpensive, and this project requires no tools if you buy the pipe in the proper lengths. Step by step instructions for this super easy, long lasting DIY tomato trellis idea.
Ok, I’m thinking serious tomato growers will really love this next tomato trellis idea! Coined “The Tormato”, this support system also provides water and nutrients to the root system through it’s ingenious tubing technique. Made from PVC pipe and garden tubing, you only need a simple saw and a drill to make this project. The tomato plants are supported through the spiral of tubing, which is supported by the PVC pipe. If you love growing tomatoes, you need to check this tutorial out! At ‘Instructables‘.
If you want a DIY tomato trellis idea that will last literally forever, check out this one made with metal conduit by ‘Chatfield Court‘. Held together with pipe clamps, they use garden twine between the supports for the plants to grow on. Metal doesn’t rot, so you only have to buy these poles once. If you grow indeterminate tomato plants, a trellis like this is a must have.
‘Rocky Hedge Farm‘ used a similar technique to build their super fast, super cheap tomato trellis idea. Also using garden twine, but built with wood 1×2’s, this project goes together fast and looks great from the kitchen window as well!
Tomato Staking Ideas
‘Old World Garden Farms‘ has created a tomato stake/cage that is smart, sturdy, and really cheap. It’s basically a cattle panel held up by a substantial wood stake. But, there are tips and tricks they have learned over the many years they have been making their DIY stake-a-cage! If you grow a lot of tomato plants, this is a great option. You can make a whole lot of them quickly and inexpensively.
Hopefully you will get your ‘tomato growing’ off to a great start by using one of these DIY tomato cage or trellis ideas for support and staking your plants. Be sure to check out our post on How to Grow Basil and 18 DIY Greenhouses. You also might be interested in some ideas on our post DIY Raised Beds & Planter Boxes!