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I currently have a tomato plant planted in a pot on my porch. It is doing quite nicely and is tied to a 6' bamboo cane. Unfortunately my cane has started to lean a bit and I am afraid that as the plant continues to grow and eventually starts bearing fruit that the cane will not be able to do its job, or that the pot may fall over.

I am wondering what the best way to support the cane that is supporting the tomato plant? Or am I better off choosing a different support method for my potted tomato plants?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Add another cane =) (or stick)

Adding a cane inside the pot should reinforce the first one and prevent mechanical failure.

This doesn't address the issue of the pot becoming top heavy and unstable. If it looks like it might fall over, add another cane (or two) so that the cane(s) rest on the ground outside the pot and counteract the instability.

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1  
you can also prune a tomato plant: gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/1843/… –  JoeHobbit Aug 30 '11 at 0:44

While on a plant forum I stumbled across a method of using string to support tomato plants. I have not used it but it sounded promising: Link to String Discussion

I found the following quote at the above link:

If you are using string in a greenhouse then the best way is to tie the string in a loose loop around the base of the tomato plant, then wind it anti clockwise round the tomato and take the string to the wire and tie it with a loop, if you leave plenty of string at the top then as the plant gets close to the wire you can undo it and lower the plant down a couple of feet so that the bottom which has cropped is on the ground and the plant has more room to grow up. Well that's how we used to do it in the old days, I must have strung many thousands of tomatoes in my time. David

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For tomato plants, a conical cage that looks like this is the best way to go. This way, you provide support at each stage of the plant's growth and there are multiple points (on each circle) for you to tie the fruits to.

enter image description here

However, this requires that you plan in advance and set up the cage before the plant gets too big. There is no way you're going to be able to fit that onto a full grown plant.

Supporting your cane

Now coming to supporting your 6' cane, here's one cheap way using some twine and some turnbuckles. You'll need:

  1. Some mason's line or strong twine (costs around $3-4 for a 100-feet roll. You'll need a lot less!)
  2. 3 small turnbuckles (costs around $1.50 each for the small ones)
  3. 3 6" nails (costs around 10¢ each)

Now I'm not at home and don't have a picture of how it looks like, but here's a hand drawn drawing that shouldn't be too hard to follow (also not too clear because of the scanner, but it's readable).

enter image description here

  1. Drive in the three nails at the points marked X. Make sure that you drive it in at an angle so that the head is tilting outward as in the second figure.
  2. Tie some twine from the cane (probably around less than half way down from the top) to the loop of the turnbuckle.
  3. Next tie a smaller piece of twine from the nail head and through the hook of the turnbuckle. Pull it till it is tight and then make a knot.
  4. Make sure that the turnbuckle is screwed out most of the way so that later if and when you need to adjust tension, you can (last figure).
  5. Repeat for all three nails and adjust tension till the cane is as vertical as you'd like it to be.
  6. Check periodically (every week?) to see if it is leaning and increase tension in the string(s) opposite to the direction in which it is leaning.

This is a neat way to keep it vertical without having to build additional supports/structures and is my preferred method of training young trees to grow vertically.

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Nothing fancy, last year (sorry I don't have a photo to share) I did this with my two tomato plants, each in their own pot:

  • 4ft or 5ft (1200mm or 1500mm) long garden canes.
  • Sunk the canes into the soil around the perimeter of the pot at about 4inch (100mm) centres.

Both plants seemed to like working themselves around the canes. I didn't have to tie them to the canes. And with that number of canes, the plants seemed to have more than enough support.

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