Plant Supports for Garden Vegetables

Growing vegetables vertically not only saves space but yields healthier more productive plants. Sky's the limit on the various materials, shapes and sizes of garden supports. Some vegetables do better on one type of support and correct pairing of the vegetable and vertical support is important. Here are some basic ideas on supports and what types of vegetables work with support structures. You can also watch our video on Plant Support for more ideas. hortonova plant trellis

Different Types of Supports/Materials

Cages - can be made of just about anything and in any shape, square, round or triangular. Plastic Trellis - can be oriented horizontally to support plants that tend to flop over; or orient it vertically can weave or clip the plants to the trellis. If the plants produce tendrils, they will naturally grab onto the trellis. Hortonova trellis is a great product that comes in many heights and lengths, is very economical and can be reused year after year. Stakes - can be made of wood, bamboo, rebar or pvc. TeePee Structure - can be of any size or made from bamboo or wood. Great for growing up beans or some vining flowers like sweet peas. Check out the video Plant Support Options on how to make one. teepee plant support Cattle/hog panels - made from very sturdy wire, can cut them down to make your own cages or use them in a full size and make an arched structure. Check out feed stores or garden supply stores and might want to use the type that has openings large enough to fit your hand through. Concrete construction wire - very sturdy wire can cut up to make your own cages or use as a trellis. Single twine support - anchor the bottom part of the twine with a ground staple and the top should be secured to a sturdy horizontal board or wire. If growing indeterminate variety tomatoes, wind string around the stem of the plant. As the plant grows, train it to grow up the string (securing with ties also helps).

What Plants are Good to Grow Up

  • Tomatoes - Determinate varieties - can probably get away with a shorter single stake since these plants are shorter and bushier. A small tomato cage would work as well. Indeterminate varieties - these plants grow tall (unless you top them). Support can be provided with vertical trellis like the Hortonova trellis. You can either weave the plant through (but removal at end of the season is kind of a pain) or tie the plant to the trellis. Really quick way is to use clips, like the Zenport clip. They are easy to move when plant grows, easy to remove and when put away properly, can be used year after year.
  • Cucumbers - grow great on a trellis. You may need to tie them or weave them through the trellis. Consider growing them on a trellis oriented at a 45 degree angle and plant something that needs a little shade, like lettuce, beets or even peppers.
  • Melons - also can grow on a sturdy trellis, can weave the vines through the trellis and when the melons get heavy, support the fruit by tying on a sling to support the weight. I like to use an old tshirt cut up to just the right size.
  • trombetta squash Vining Squash - like most winter squashes like spagetti, butternut, acorn, delicata do quite well on vertical trellises. A great summer squash to grow on a trellis is the trombetta. They are very striking on an arbor or vertical trellis (see right photo).
  • Gourds - very striking display when grown on a trellis. May need to make a sling if the gourds get too big.
  • Beans - even though something is a bush bean it has a tendency to fall over and it would help the tie this up like using twine on either side of the plants to keep it erect. Pole beans are very vigorous growers and needs something tall to grow up. Can use long bamboo poles and make a teepee wrapped in twine.
  • Tomatillos - can grow quite large,sprawl and fall over, therefore can benefit from staking,trellising or cages.
  • Peppers - usually will only need a sturdy single stake about 4 feet tall. Although, some of the peppers, like the Ancho Poblano can get much taller and will need a taller stake. You could orient the trellis horizontally and allow the plant to grow up through.
  • Eggplant - usually will only need a sturdy single stake.
  • Sunflowers - will need a good tall stake for most varieties. Secure them with twine or these plastic coated ties work great and can be reused for many seasons.
The ways to grow on supports are endless. Experiment with different methods and various materials that work with your space and your budget. Trombetta squash photo by Meredith Cherry.

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