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How To Tie Tomato Plants – The Secret To Tying Up Tomatoes!

Looking for a few tips, tricks and secrets to tying up your tomato plants this year?

When it comes to growing great tomatoes, how, when and what you use to support your plants as they grow can play a major role in their overall performance. Not just in helping to keep the plant from toppling over when full of fruit, but also to keep them productive and free of pests and disease.

As it turns out, there is actually a long list of benefits to tying up your plants. First and foremost, supporting your tomato crop is vital in keeping branches from snapping under the weight of ripening fruit. Believe it or not, a heavy fruit load can add as much as 25 to 30 pounds per plant.

how to tie up tomatoes
A load of ripening tomatoes can easily add twenty-five pounds or more of weight to the plant’s stems and branches.

Unfortunately, without support, that weight can topple plants quite easily as they begin to produce. Especially if a strong summer storm happens to blow through when fully loaded. One thing is for sure, it can ruin a harvest in a flash!

More Reasons To Support Your Tomato Plants – The Secret To Tying Up Tomato Plants

But more than just supporting your tomato plants, tying up branches as they grow also allows for better air flow and light. Good air flow is extremely important in keeping plants healthy and allowing for better pollination. And the more light a plant gets, the better chance it has to ripen its fruit.

Tying up your plants also makes daily chores of watering, weeding and harvesting more manageable as well. But perhaps most important of all, keeping fruit and the branches off of the ground can protect your harvest from the perils of pests and disease.

When branches are allowed to sprawl to the ground, it makes it easy for soil borne diseases to hitch a ride. And, of course, it also allows insects and pests to climb and hide out without trouble as well.

vegetable garden crops
When tomato plants do not have good support, it can be difficult to maintain them. It also increases the chance for disease and pests to take over.

With all of those advantages of properly supporting your crop in mind, here is a look at when and how to tie up your tomato plants – along with a great look at some of the easiest and least expensive materials to tie them up with!

How & When To Tie Up Tomato Plants – The Secrets To Big Success!

When it comes to tying up tomatoes, success begins with supporting the main stem – and it needs to be done as soon as possible! In fact, the best time to put your tomato supports in the ground is the day you plant.

No matter if you use a stake, cage, trellis or any other type of support system, putting them in place before or as you plant will help protect your plants in two key ways.

First, it allows to tie off your main stem from day 1. The main stem, especially early in a plant’s life cycle, is it’s lifeline. The more it moves and ways, the more chances there are for it to be damaged. Providing early stability for the main stem of your plant is critical to anchoring all of the other branches, stems and future growth.

Secondly, and just as important as tying off your main stem, putting your supports in early also keeps you from damaging roots and compacting the ground if you have to drive them in after the plant has been growing. Both of which can severely stunt your plant’s growth!

How To Tie Off Tomato Plants

We will cover some of the best materials to use in a moment (along with a few not to use!), but let’s start with how to support your tomato plants as they grow by tying them up at the right time and in the right places.

tie up tomato plants
Tying up the main stem at the bottom of the plant a few inches off the ground will help to keep the plant sturdy from the start.

Begin at the base of plant, tying off the main stem a few inches off the ground. Allow a bit of room for the base to grow when tying, as it will thicken as summer progresses. If your plants are tall enough, add a second tie off point six to eight inches above ground level for the main stem.

These two tie-offs will provide the main support for the plant as it grows. As you do this, always be sure to trim off any branches below this point. See our article : When, Why & How To Prune Tomato Plants

Tying Plants As They Grow

For the branches above, it is all about keeping the plant under control. Begin by tying the longest branches back to the center post. If you are using a stake, you can weave branches to support each other as you tie them back.

For cages, try to tie branches equally around the supports. Tying these off-shoots back to the main branch area provides much needed support as they begin to bear fruit. Once the plant has four to five main tie off spots in the middle and top, it should have all the support it needs.

As the season progresses, only tie back additional branches when they begin to wane from too much fruit. Quite often, pruning wild branches is the better option than tying up for wild or excessively large branches.

Cutting these back will allow more energy to go to producing and ripening more fruit. If there is one mistake gardeners often make with their plants, it is trying to keep up and tie all of the branches that grow. In this case, less is more!

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The Best Materials To Tie Up Tomato Plants

Selecting the wrong material to tie up your tomatoes can cause serious damage to your plants. Materials that are too rigid will easily cut and damage the plants as they grow. They can also slice and rub tender shoots off in windy conditions.

Stay clear of zip ties, metal wire, and hard plastic ties. Heavy rope can also create issues as well. So what can you use? The key is to select materials strong enough to hold plants, but with flexibility. With that in mind, here is a look at some of the best materials to use:

1) Cotton Yarn

One of the easiest and most economical choices around for tying up plants is a thick, all-cotton yarn. Cotton yarn is both strong and flexible. It allows plants to move freely, and more importantly, expands when a stem grows thick against it.

Since it can be purchased in long rolls and cut to size, it is also one of the least expensive ways to tie up tomatoes, peppers, or nearly any plant that needs support. And you can even select it in a natural green color to blend right in with your plants.

One of our favorites of all is cotton t-shirt yarn. It is thicker and easy to work with, and you can usually purchase a 100+ yard roll for under $15. Talk about a lot of tying for a little! Product Link: T-Shirt Yarn Fettuccini Spaghetti Style, 7-9 mm

Spaghetti Yarn
100% cotton t-shirt yarn is excellent for holding tomato plants – and it looks great too!
Jute String / Tomato Twine / Pantyhose / Cotton

Tomato twine or jute string are old-time favorites used by many gardeners to tie up tomato plants. Both are economical, although jute can sometimes be an issue rubbing into plants.

Of course, we can’t forget to mention the old standby of tying up tomatoes – pantyhose! They do work extremely well in supporting plants, and their flexible nature is easy on plants. But they can be hard to find these days, and are certainly quite expensive if purchased new.

Old cotton t-shirts cut into strips are an excellent economical way to tie up your plants. Cut the t-shirts into one inch thick strips and then tie loosely around your plants to allow them room to grow.

Velcro One Wrap Tomato Supports

When it comes to specific products that are made for tying off tomato plants and other vegetables safely and with ease, Velcro One-Wraps are one of the best. Not only are they reusable, but they go on with one of the easiest methods ever, velcro!

Simply cut off the desired length from the roll, and then wrap around the stem. The material is weather resistant, and can be re-adjusted and re-used as needed.

No matter what you use – make sure to keep your plants tied up and secured right from the start this year – and get ready to enjoy a great harvest that is easier than ever to pick!

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