How Does a Tomato Cage Work?

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Purpose of a Tomato Cage

  • Tomato cages are cylindrical wire structures and act like a trellis so that your plant can use it as support as it grows. Without any support, the weight of the growing tomato can cause the plant to droop or bend, and the fruits may touch the ground, where they are more likely to be attacked by pests and be more susceptible to disease and rot. When you use a stake for tomatoes, you have to continually tie it as the plant grows to ensure proper support. A tomato cage eliminates the need for tying and provides the plant with all-around support as it grows. Being made out of wire, it does not inhibit the plant's natural sprouting.

Caging vs. Staking

  • When you use a stake for tomatoes, you have to continually tie the plant in different sections as the plant grows to ensure proper support. With tying, the ropes can occasionally put stress on a branch by holding it at an unnatural angle, or can break a branch getting heavy with fruit. A tomato cage eliminates the need for tying. Being made out of wire that surrounds the plant, it does not inhibit the branches from sprouting in different directions, increases the growth of foliage and produces more fruit than staked plants, or plants left unsupported.

Planting Your Tomatoes

  • Whether you are sowing tomato seeds directly into the ground, or transplanting young tomato plants, you should put the cage in place when they go into the ground. Each plant should have its own cage. The narrow end of the cage should be pushed into the ground with the seeds or plant directly in the center of the cylinder. Do not put a tomato cage over a plant that has already been planted and taken root, or you may damage and sever the roots.

Removing and Reusing Your Tomato Cage

  • Leave your cage in place as your plant grows and sprouts fruit. If you remove it, you can damage or sever the roots that have grown around it and kill your plant. When your plant dies, you can remove your tomato cage and reuse it for other plants. Make sure to wash it, especially if your tomato plant had any kind of mold, fungus, wilt or other plant disease.

Not Just for Tomatoes

  • Tomato cages can be used for many other plants. They make excellent supports for any small vegetable plant that benefits from staking, such as cucumbers, peppers, bush beans, squash, zucchini or eggplant. Use them in the same way you would for tomatoes.

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