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How to Tie Up Tomato Plants

Tying up your tomato plants is a critical step in the growing process but there are so many options out there when it comes to twine such as gardening tape, twist ties, jute string, etc. it can be overwhelming. Not to mention that the method you use can change depending on how your tomatoes are staked. 

So today I’ll be showing you exactly how to tie up your tomato plants and which twine I’ve found to work best after testing them all. 

Sungold Cherry Tomato growing in the garden

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Tomatoes are one of my most favorite crops and for the most part they are a pretty easy to grow as long as you pick varieties well suited for your climate.

But unlike some crops like cucumbers and pole beans that attach themselves to a trellis, tomatoes need help. So it’s up to you to stake the plants and tie them up.

However, there are A LOT of options and varying opinions out there. So in this post I’m going to share the most hands off and effective method for tying up tomato plants that has worked for us in our garden.

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Why Supporting Tomato Plants Is Necessary

If you’re growing indeterminate tomato varieties they can easily grow 6 feet tall and beyond. My Sungold and Juliet tomato plants passed the 6′ mark in just two months after transplanting in the garden.

But even if your plants don’t get that tall, branches get heavy with fruit and it’s nearly impossible to keep your plants upright unless you tie them up.

There are dwarf tomato varieties and determinate types that don’t get as big, but I have still found that some support is helpful no matter what kind of tomatoes you’re growing.

So in order to keep your plants upright, keep branches off the ground, and to protect fruit, tying up your plants is an important task.

Tying tomato plant stem to wire

Types of Tomato Twine

There are various types of twine to choose from and for the most part, anything is better than nothing. The main goal is to keep your plants growing upright.

But some types of twine are damaging to tomato stems or fall apart by the end of the season. While others are safer to use and some are even reusable, my favorite kind!

And after testing many options here are my thoughts on each.

Stretch Garden Tape

Stretch Garden Tape is really popular and it’s often what I use if I run out of the soft twist tie that I prefer. But it gets brittle in the hot sun and it’s not easy to reuse.

By the end of the season you usually have to cut off all of the tape.

Twist Ties

There are lots of various kinds of twist ties out there, but the ones I’ve tried are garden specific twist ties. When you buy the big roll you can cut your own length which is handy, but if you get the ties precut they are almost always too short.

I like the method of twist ties better than having to tie twine or string, but I prefer the soft twist tie which is next up on the list.

Soft Twist Tie (My Favorite Option)

This soft twist tie has become my new favorite option for tying up tomato plants, cucumbers, and any other vining plants in the garden. Using twist tie is a lot easier than having to use two hands to tie string, tape, etc while also holding the branch in place.

But what makes the soft twist tie really great is that is has a rubber coating that protects the plant and it’s easy to untwist and reuse.

Jute Twine

Jute twine is nice to have on hand because you can get a huge roll for really cheap, plus it can be used for lots of different things in your garden and home.

Braided Bungee Cord

Braided bungee cord is a nice material to tie with because it’s stretchy. It works great for outside branches that are still growing but need support. The only downside is that it may get overstretched.

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Tomato Tying Process

Before we get into the “how to” of tying up your plants, the first thing you have to consider is how your tomatoes are staked which will effect how easy it is to tie them up.

A few popular staking methods include,

Of course, those are only a few of the options out there but of all the staking methods, I prefer cattle panels. They are sturdy and they’ll last forever.

Cattle panels also provide plenty of space to tie up branches which allows you to let your plants grow large with minimal pruning, and the more suckers you let grow means the more fruit you’ll have. Learn more in this video here, To Prune or Not to Prune Tomato Plants.

But now let’s get to the process of tying, or if you prefer video, watch the YouTube video below.

How to Easily Tie Up Tomato Plants

Step 1

When the tomato plants are about 18-24 inches tall, find the main stem and tie it to the wire, cattle panel, or stake. If your plants have multiple leading stems, tie all of them.

Tie the branches loose enough that there is still wriggle room but tight enough that it keeps the plant upright.

Tying tomato stem to wire for support

Step 2

After the plants grow another 12-18 inches it’s usually time to tie more branches. If you see any branches that start to fall towards the ground tie those up. Then continue tying up the main stem or multiple leading stems, so that you maintain upright tomato plants.

I usually walk through my plants once a week or every other week to tie up branches and this keeps it pretty manageable. But if you have lots of plants growing you may want to tie up branches from a few plants every day so that it takes less time, but you stay on top of it.

You can see in the picture below, I used to have t-posts with wire to support my tomato plants but it made tying up plants more difficult because the wire was often times above or below the branches. But now with a cattle panel arch I can tie up branches at any point.

tying up tomato plants in the garden

Step 3

Continue with the same process throughout the entire growing season. If your plants reach a height that is out of reach you can consider topping your plants. But I’d only recommend topping late in the season about 1 month prior to your first frost.

However, if you have indeterminate varieties that grow out of reach earlier on in the season, you can top them at any point because indeterminate tomato plants will continue to grow. Just be sure to use clean gardening shears and avoid pruning when plants are stressed.

Tomato plant growing up a cattle panel arch

I hope this post helped you learn the process of tying up your tomato plants so that you can grow tall and healthy plants loaded with delicious tomatoes!

Learn More About Growing Tomatoes

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One Comment

  1. These are great options! There also is a tie that I really like that’s essentially made out of what feels like a cotton T-shirt. The brand I’ve purchased before is BioStretch on Amazon. It’s reusable (if not completely destroyed by the sun), and is also biodegradable. It stretches with the plant, and is strong. Great for plants that will thicken and you don’t want the twine to wire ties to cut into (trees, main stems of squash or tomatoes), etc.


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