Tomato vines need support to yield abundant, juicy harvests. Tomato cages, trellises, ladders, and wooden stakes are just some of the popular reinforcements used to keep plants off the ground. The benefits of caging tomatoes are plentiful and include less disease and pest-laden plants, unsoiled fruit, and smoother, tastier harvests. To help you find the best support system for your tomato plants, we’ve written a comprehensive buyer’s guide and paired it with reviews of a few of our favorite tomato cages.
Best Tomato Cages 2018
|Lifetime Tomato Cages|
|Hydrofarm GCTC 4 foot Tomato Cage||20"||Plastic|
|Red Tomato Ladders, Heavy Gauge||57"||Steel||3-Pack|
|Panacea 89723 Tomato and Plant|
|EZ Grow TC-4 The Big EZ||48"||Galvanized|
|EasyGO Products EGP-GARD-020||18"||Steel covered|
1. Lifetime Tomato Cages – Best Folding Tomato Cage
Gardener’s Supply Company’s Lifetime Tomato Cages are heavy duty 10-gauge coated wire cages. They are rectangular in shape and feature hinged panels that fold down flat for space-saving off-season storage. We love that these cages feature wide 8-inch square openings that offer easy access to ripe fruit. The cage is 39 inches tall by 14 and 3/8 inches square. Meanwhile, 7-inch tall legs give this an impressive height of 32-inch when properly installed. Each set comes with four tomato cages. They are packed flat for shipping and require minimal assembly.
Our only qualm is that the 7-inch legs are not an adequate anchor in windy or extremely loose soil conditions. Of course, Extra Tall Earth Staples can be purchased separately and used for additional reinforcement. We also did not find any way to make these cages stackable. If you anticipate your plants to grow 5 feet or more, you may want to go with a lengthier alternative.
If you’re looking for a set of durable tomato cages that won’t take up too much space during the off-season, Lifetime cages feature a tried and true foldable design. Unlike flimsy alternatives, these cages can support heavy, fruit-laden plants without buckling at the knees (so to speak). What’s more, the square-shaped wire columns help free up ground space in your garden and facilitate healthier, less disease-prone harvests. While these cages are a tad on the expensive side, you can finally forget about having to purchase extra clamps and stakes to reinforce your failing wire towers. Plus, you’ll no longer be feeding the ground with unripened fruits that have buckled under their own weight.
2. Hydrofarm GCTC 4 foot Tomato Cage – Best Modular Tomato Cage
Hydrofarm’s GCTC 4-foot Tomato Cage is a modular support system featuring a segmented pole and four rings. Each pole piece is 14-inches long, while each support ring features a 14-inch diameter. It provides gardeners with the flexibility to add or take away rings as their plants grow. In total, it expands up to 3 feet high. The cage was designed to fit in Hydrofarm’s Tomato Barrel, though it is a suitable addition to any container or garden bed.
The tower comes packaged in a flat plastic pouch and requires minimal assembly.
The disassembled set has little semblance to a sturdy tomato tower, but the space-saving design is capable of supporting hefty mature plants without buckling over. Each hoop features an inner triangle for ample support bars for plants to crawl up and rest their fruit on. When taken apart, the hoops lie flat for compact storage.
While the modular ring system is an excellent concept for gardeners with very little garden and/or storage space, we do wish that Hydrofarm would use durable wire or aluminum materials as opposed to plastic, which tends to weaken in the hot summer sun. With that being said, you can expect to get two to three seasons out of the Tomato Tower if you’re willing to cast aesthetic preferences aside.
3. Red Tomato Ladders, Heavy Gauge – Highest Tomato Ladder
The unique v-shaped design forms a protective housing for the main stock of a tomato plant while giving easy access to nodes and fruit-bearing limbs. However, the narrow cage area and wide distance between the metal slats demand that the limbs be tied down to avoid breakage. The cage’s small footprint makes it ideal for small containers but may frustrate gardeners who enjoy the ease of guiding their plant through neighboring slats.
While only 6 inches wide with a 6-inch diameter, the Red Tomato ladders are considerably tall. This makes them a great choice for medium-sized indeterminates, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans. As the plants grow, you can weave them through the wire structures, adding minimal twist ties or clamps for extra support. Thanks to the ladder’s ability to lift heavy fruit off the ground, they help to propagate a more colorful, blemish-free crop.
The Red Tomato ladders are a great choice for gardeners looking to support their sky-reaching container crops. They eliminate the need for additional stake supports and are an aesthetically pleasing addition to any garden or side yard. A set of three is a noteworthy investment but will offer generous returns for years to come. In fact, the illustrious red paint will serve as a constant reminder of everyone’s favorite crop.
4. Panacea 89723 Tomato and Plant Support Cage – Most Economical Tomato Cages
Made of thin metal wire, these cages are easy to anchor, can hold several pounds of fruit, and can be used season after season. Of course, they are also incredibly pliable and rust after only a few rain showers. What’s more, some of the cages show signs of having weak welded connections.
Still, they are a viable choice for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and the likes. If you’re new to tomato growing or simply can’t imagine shelling out too much green for your reds, these cages are priced for one-time use, while maintaining a high potential for reusability.
We’d recommend these cages for tomato gardeners on a tight budget. While the quality of the cages doesn’t indicate you’re going to get a lifetime of use, they’re sturdy enough to pull in a crop or two over the course of a couple of seasons. Keep in mind that they can be nested together for a compact storage, though the slightest crook can make the entire process a headache-inducing fiasco. All-in-all, they’re a solid, inexpensive solution to the age-old problem of droopy tomato plants.
5. EZ Grow TC-4 The Big EZ – Best Folding Hoop Cage
The hinged ring system folds out easily but does not collapse under the pressure of wind nor weight of a mature plant. When tomato season is over, it can be folded and hung on a peg board or leaned against a basement or garage wall. Each set of cages comes with a comprehensive one-year warranty. While the cages are more suitable for determinate tomato plants, you can always purchase inexpensive links to securely stacking two cages together.
While the wire cages look flimsy out of the package, they can withstand several pounds of fruit and offer several arms to support bushy, low-lying tomato varieties. The galvanized metal is also a sturdier alternative to bendy wire structures.
We’d highly recommend this set of cages for any gardener looking to make an investment in a reusable cage system. The Big EZ cages are also a great solution for gardeners with minimal storage space. What’s more, the warranty is a reassuring feature for individuals who are sick of pouring their money into the flimsy garden tools every year.
6. EasyGO Products EGP-GARD-020 – Most Versatile Garden Trellis
The EasyGO Products EGP-GARD-020 Tomato Cages Stakes are triangle-shaped steel ladders with moveable plastic arms. The stakes are 5 feet high and covered with a weatherproof plastic coating. The tomato cages come with a 30-day guarantee. Each set comes with four full trellis sets, each with a total of nine moveable arms.
We’d recommend these garden trellises for anyone looking for a low-profile, reusable support system for their crawling vegetable plants, such as tomatoes and cucumbers. Flexible arm arrangements allow for ample circulation and naturally, evenly ripened fruit. What’s more, it keeps pests and diseases at bay. Finally, unlike traditional single structure cages, these flexible structures can be assembled to fit several different types of tomato plants.
What to Consider when Purchasing Tomato Cages
Believe it or not, there is a diverse selection of tomato cages to choose from. From foldable all-weather frames to inexpensive wire cones, the sheer mass of products designed to support vegetables is surprisingly overwhelming. In the following text, we’ll discuss the basic qualities of tomato cages, trellises, and ladders and identify what characteristics distinguish one from another.
Basic Design Features
Tomatoes are an extremely popular and diverse crop. They can be grown by the acre or thrive just as well in a container. What they all have in common is they need some form of support to thrive. As such, tomato cages are widely popular as they provide a sturdy 360-degree support system. Caged tomatoes yield more abundant, blemish-free crops because of their ability to lift the stems, leaves, and fruit of a tomato plant off the ground, keeping them away from pests and disease.
The best-known style is the cone-shaped wire cages found in most hardware and garden stores around the nation. These are inexpensive and sturdy enough to be burdened with heavy fruit. However, they’re typically only 3 feet tall, making them unfit for lengthy indeterminate and other unconventional varieties. Still, there is nothing wrong with using wire cone cages. They’re a great solution for inexpensively housing multiple plants. In fact, if they’re made of a thick gauge wire and are welded nicely, there is no reason they can’t last several years.
Alternatively, tall cylindrical and square towers provide a greater vertical expanse for high-growing tomato varieties. Determinate plants need cages that are around 4 feet, while indeterminate need around 6 feet of support. When purchasing this sort, keep in mind that the legs should be long enough to anchor the structure in the soil, making it resistant to toppling over. If you’re planning on investing in specialized cages, look for those that are sealed with a weather-resistant paint or coating. This will prevent rust and ensure your product is good to reuse for several years.
If you’re concerned about the footprint of your tomato cages, look for narrow ladder-like trellises or hoop supports with a single lateral support pole in the center. Both of these options are great reinforcements for container tomatoes and also work great when looking to consolidate plants in a garden.
When tomato plants are in season, we want nothing more than to support their unfettered growth. However, storing the bulky, soiled cages during the off-season is a whole other story. Fortunately, there are several styles of collapsible cages. These often feature hinges that allow each panel to fold down flat when not in use.
Don’t wait to cage your tomatoes. The plants grow rapidly and attempting to install a cage on maturing vegetation can result in broken limbs and roots. To avert destruction, install your cage while your tomato plants are still seedlings. As they grow, carefully weave the limbs over the bars of the cage, using clamps and ties when necessary. When the limbs reach the top of the cage, simply trim them back.
When it comes time to pack up for the season, removing the dead, intricately woven stems from the cages can be a hassle. Once you’ve untangled the last of the vines, give your cages a good spray with the garden hose and then let them dry in the sun. Finally, collapse, disassemble, and nest your cages in storage till next tomato season. While nobody loves wrestling with a ball of rusty wire, it is all worth it when you are enjoying a juicy homegrown tomato.
If your tomato cage falls over, lift it up carefully and anchor it the ground with stakes. If you live in a climate where harsh wind is prevalent, you may wish to do this as a precautionary measure.
Never attempt to plant more than one tomato plant in a single cage. Overcrowding plants stunts their growth and minimizes the availability of essential nutrients. When nurtures properly, a tomato plant should have no trouble filling out a 5-foot wide diameter cage. While planting seedlings individually is better for the plant, it is also easier for you to maintain and harvest an individually sowed plant. Plus, if space-saving is your number one concern, rest assured that tomatoes can be planted in containers too.
Caging tomatoes is extremely beneficial. Whether you’re planting bushy determinates or sky-high indeterminates, cages provide essential support and allow a tomato plant to grow more naturally and yield less blemished, more abundant crops. When choosing a cage, consider the growth potential of the tomato variety you plan to grow. What’s more, rule in any special precautions you may need to take to ensure your plants don’t topple over before they reach the height of their maturity. Finally, consider your personal budget, off-season storage capacity, and personal planting preferences.
While there are many different styles of tomato supports to choose from, the tomato cages listed above are a great place to start when planning for your garden. We hope you enjoyed our guide and reviews. Comment below to share your own experience with planting and caging tomatoes.