Hanging Support For Tomatoes - How To String Up Tomato Plants Overhead

Tomato Plants Stringed Up Overhead
(Image credit: TrongNguyen)

Gardeners who grow tomatoes, which I venture to state is most of us, know that tomatoes need some type of support as they grow. Most of us use a tomato cage or single pole trellis to support the plant as it grows and fruits. However, there is another new method, a vertical trellis for tomato plants. Intrigued? The question is, how to make a tomato trellis?

Why String Up Tomato Plants?

So, the idea behind a trellis for tomato plants is simply to train the plant to grow vertically. What are the benefits? Trellising or building a hanging support for tomatoes maximizes production space. In other words, it allows you to produce more fruit per square foot (0.1 sq. m.). This method also keeps the fruit off the ground, keeping it clean but, more importantly, reducing any chance of soil-borne disease. Lastly, having a hanging support for tomatoes allows for an easier harvest. No need to bend or contort when trying to access ripe fruit.

How to Make a Tomato Trellis

There are a couple of tomato trellis ideas. One thought is to create a vertical support six feet (2 m.) or so from the base of the plant. The other is an arbor-like design.

Vertical Support

This tomato trellis idea is perfect if you are growing in sub-irrigation planter beds. The end result looks much like a giant sawhorse with legs on each end a long bar at the top and low bars on each side with strings the tomatoes can climb. Start with 2” x 2” (5 x 5 cm.) boards that are cut to 7 feet (2 m.). Secure these at the top with a wood furring strip which will let the legs of the sawhorse move easily and allow the trellis to be folded for storage. You can stain or paint the lumber and bamboo to protect them from the elements prior to assembly. Tuck the ends of the sawhorses into the sub-irrigation bed and add the bamboo pole across the top. Add the bamboo side rails and clamps, which allow the side rails to be secure but moveable. Then it's just a matter of adding the trellis lines using construction string or green twine. These lines need to long enough to tie to the top bamboo bar and hang down loosely to tie to the bamboo rails.

Arbor Support

Another option for trellising tomato plants is to build an arbor by erecting four vertical posts and eight horizontal pressure treated wood 2" x 4"s (5 x 10 cm.). Then secure hog wire to the top to allow for trellising. At first, keep the plants upright with bamboo stakes. As the plant grows, begin cutting away the lower branches. This leaves the bottom part of the plants, the first 1-2 feet (0.5 m.), devoid of any growth. Then tie the upper branches to the trellis with string so they can climb and pop through the hog wire. Continue to train the plants to grow horizontally across the top. The result is a lush awning of tomato vines that are easy to pick from beneath the canopy. These are just two methods of how to string up tomato plants. A little imagination will no doubt lead you to a trellising method all your own with the end result of plentiful tomato production with no diseases and ease of picking.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.