Determinate tomato plants are smaller and bushier and often do not require trellising. Indeterminate plants however, will keep on growing as long as conditions are good, and they can get huge – 10 feet or more – so they will definitely need some support.
How to stake a tomato plant:
- You will need a stake that’s between 8-10 ft tall because you will have to drive the stake at least a foot into the ground, and you want to give the plant lots of room to grow tall.
- Place the stake in the ground about 4-5 inches away from the plant. It’s better if you place the stake in place as soon as you transplant the tomatoes into the ground. If you wait until the plant is more established, you risk damaging the roots.
- If possible place the stake on the prevailing downwind side of the plant, so that it can lean on it if it gets windy.
- If you have planted your tomatoes in a trench, make sure that you don’t place the stake on the root side of your plant.
- Although the stake is in place, don’t tie the plant to it until it begins to flower. By allowing the plant to stand on its own for a while you will be encouraging the stem to become much stronger.
- For tying the plant, I like some kind of flexible material which will allow it to sway without damaging the stem. Elastic string is great, or you can use pantyhose or an old T-shirt cut in strips.
- Keep an eye on the plant as it grows, and continue to add ties as it gets taller.
I prefer not to use tomato cages for two reasons. First, indeterminate tomato plants will grow much taller than a cage can support. The second reason is that it’s hard to find and harvest all the tomatoes in the middle of the cage.