The Florida Weave Is the Perfect Trellising System for Your Tomato Plants 1

Summer’s just around the corner, and you know what that means – our tomato plants are ready to soar! If you’ve ever watched your indeterminate tomatoes stretch skyward, you know they need serious support. Staking, cages, you name it, you’ve probably tried it. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve had your fair share of flimsy metal cages collapsing under the weight of your precious tomatoes.

It’s frustrating, right? Every season, it’s the same old story: bent wires, broken supports, and toppled plants. But what if I told you there is one that excels them all: the Florida (or basket) weave!

This method is gaining popularity faster than a speeding tomato vine, and for good reason.

Why? Because it’s easy, inexpensive, and incredibly effective. Picture this: a support system that’s quick to set up, uses everyday items you already have, and keeps your plants standing tall and proud.

So, if you’re tired of battling with those unreliable metal cages and want an easy, budget-friendly, and super-effective way to support your tomato plants, read on. Let me show you why the Florida weave is the best option and how you can set it up in no time!

What’s the Florida Weave?

Florida Weave

The Florida weave is a very simple method of staking (or supporting) tall veggies and plants, like indeterminate tomatoes, and it consists of a row of poles stuck in the ground and a twine weaving (hence the name) through the, so, one time to the front, and one time to the back of the plants themselves. Just like we do with wicker baskets, or wattle fences etc.

This is, in simple terms, what the Florida weave is, and we will see how you can “build” one (what a big word – make is better) with cheap materials correctly and fast later in this article. But first, let me convince you that it really far surpasses all other types of support you can give your indeterminate tomatoes!

The Florida Weave Is Simpler and Neater Than Other Support Methods for Your Tomatoes

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First of all, with the Florida weave, you support a whole row of tomatoes together! Instead of staking them one by one, with many pieces of string or bands etc., you also use a single twine for every row.

This also results in a neat and uniform row of tomatoes, all growing in a line, while if you stake them, one will move to the back, one to the front… You get an uneven row, and this has practical consequences…

It’s Easier to Tend to and Prune Your Indeterminate Tomatoes with the Florida Weave

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When the row is uneven, and one plant moves to the back, one to the front etc., it’s hard to give them all the same care, and to prune them, to remove suckers and sick leaves in a uniform fashion. We end up taking more care of the front plants, and of course we find it harder to check on and act on the back ones.

And to do this, we often need to move the front tomato plant etc., disturbing it, and – as you know – incurring in their irritant leaves.

With the Florida weave, instead, you have all your tomato plants growing neatly in front of you! Like on a shelf… You can see them all and tend to them all equally. For example, you can prune them more easily, spray them more thoroughly with (natural) pesticides, and even check on single fruits without craning your neck…

The Florida Weave Gives Your Tomatoes Better Ventilation – and It Helps Prevent Diseases and Infections!

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What’s more, the Florida weave gives you rows that aren’t just neat, they are thin! And this means that air can get through them easily, and that sunlight gets through the foliage more easily.

The result? You will get healthier tomato plants, and fewer problems with pests, like critters, molds and fungal infections! The Florida weave basically works for you in your absence.

The Florida Weave Helps Your Tomatoes Ripen!

Finally, because sunlight can get to your tomatoes more easily, it will fasten their ripening process! How many times have you noticed that the foliage of one plant overshadows the green fruits of another, especially in double rows?

The Florida weave brings all the plants on a single line, even if you weave them in from two rows, so sunlight distributes better to your green tomatoes, turning them red, sweet and juicy!

So, have I convinced you that the Fiona weave is far better than all other methods of staking and supporting your indeterminate tomatoes? Then read on and find out how to make one!

How to Trellis Your Tomatoes with the Florida Weave System

1: Things You Need

The Florida weave is very simple and cheap to build, and you basically need two elements, two parts:

  • Poles, at least 6 or 7 feet tall (1.8 to 2.1 meters) for tomatoes, and adapt to the height of other plants…
  • A long piece of string.

That’s it! But let’s choose these elements carefully.

Choose Your Stakes as Poles for Your Florida Weave Structure

You can literally use anything that is sturdy enough to last to the end of the season, as poles for your Florida weave. Anything from bamboo canes, wood poles (not big, 1×1’ and above is fine, or 2.5×2.5 cm), plastic stakes, metal rods and posts… Take your pick, and look around your garden, you may already have something to recycle.

One point is important though: they should be straight! This does not mean perfectly level, but fairly so, this way you can get a neat line and weave the better.

Depending on what you have available, here are my top choices:

Wooden Stakes: Wooden stakes, such as 2×2 pieces, are another option. They’re inexpensive and readily available. While they work well for determinate tomatoes, they may not last as long, often rotting or splintering over time. For indeterminate varieties, they might bow as your plants grow taller, but they can be a quick fix in a pinch.

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T-posts: T-posts are available in heights from 5 to 9 feet. For the Florida weave, 6-foot or 7-foot T-posts are ideal. With a diameter of around 1 1/2 inches, they’re sturdy enough to support multiple indeterminate plants in long rows. They’re my go-to choice because they’re reusable, durable in windy conditions, and can easily bear the weight of large plants.

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Rebar: If T-posts are hard to find, rebar is a great alternative. These metal stakes are often used in construction and come in various lengths. You can find them in increments of 3 feet at lumberyards and home improvement stores. A 15-foot piece of rebar can be cut into three stakes, each 5 feet long. Though thinner (about 1/2 inch in diameter), rebar stakes are easy to push into the ground, especially after a good rain when the soil is soft.

Bamboo: Bamboo stakes are fantastic due to their weather resistance and strength. If you have access to a bamboo nursery, look for strong, straight poles about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. They’re harder to come by but offer excellent support for your plants. Most garden center bamboo stakes are better suited for lighter-duty use, so make sure you get the thick, sturdy kind.

Choose Your Twine to Weave the Poles (And Tomato Plants)

Now, let’s talk twine! The best twine for the Florida weave should be around 3-5 mm in diameter. Look for durable, weather-resistant options like heavy-duty poly tomato twine, waxed twine, or synthetic baler twine. These types won’t stretch much and will hold up throughout the season. While jute, sisal, or cotton twine might seem tempting, they tend to sag and require frequent tightening. And whatever you do, avoid wire – it’s tricky to handle and can damage your plants.

And, for sure, don’t use elastic or you will defeat the object…


Orient Your Florida Weave

This is a detail any gardeners forget to tell you… You need to orient your Florida weave north to south! This way, your tomatoes will get sunlight in the morning and in the afternoon as well, so you will make the most of it.

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Keep the spacing between rows (and Florida weaves) you should with the variety you have chosen, which is usually 3 to 4 feet apart (90 to 120 cm). You want to walk between them and allow sunlight and ventilation to nourish your plants.

Planting the Poles of Your Florida Weave in the Ground

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When your tomato plants have reached this height (1 foot or 30 cm), stake the poles in a neat line. You don’t need to be an architect at this stage, but keep it as precise as you can.

Plant one pole between each tomato plant for single rows. This is the simplest way, so, one tomato, one post…

And don’t worry if the plants are not fully aligned to the poles’ line. With the Florida weave, you will train them to follow the twines and poles!

Weave the First Twine of Your Florida Weave

When and How to Weave the First Twine of Your Florida Weave

Still when your tomato plants are about 1 foot tall (30 cm), it is time to twine the first row of your Florida weave!

This should be about 8 inches from the ground (20 cm), and you can start at one end of the row of poles:

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  • Tie the twine to one of the end poles, of course, 8 inches from the ground (20 cm). Use a fast knot, because it needs to hold on most of the weight.
  • Pass the twine to the front of the first tomato plant, or you can do it every two plants.
  • Wrap it twice around the next pole.
  • Pass the twine to the back of the next tomato plant.
  • Wrap it twice to the next pole.
  • Keep going to the last pole.
  • Then, tie the string to the last pole.
  • Start again going backwards.
  • But this time go to the opposite side of each tomato plant. So, when you passed to the front before, now pass to the back.
  • The twine should be fairly taught, so that it keeps straight between pole to pole, and it doesn’t bend down, or flop, but not so tight as to choke (and the cut) the tomato plants.
  • When you get back to the starting pole, tie it again firmly.

And for now, you are done, and you have learnt the key technique; as I said, it is in fact, like weaving…

“Growing” Your Florida Weave

“Growing” Your Florida Weave

As your tomato plants grow, so does your Florida weave. So, wait till they add another 12 to 16 inches in height (30 to 40 cm), and start weaving a new twine, about 1 foot (30 cm) above the previous one.

Then the tomatoes grow again, and you add another twine… Till you get to the top… I think you get the gist…

It will only take you a few minutes, and I find it fun too! Don’t put all the wines in first! Your plants won’t grow between the two threads, and then you’ll have to bend them, twist them, and you’ll end up even breaking some.

And that’s it, apart from the last little point…

When to Start Building a Florida Weave

You should start staking the poles in the ground and the first line of weaving when your tomato plants grow past 1 foot tall (30 cm). If you are late, don’t worry, start now though!

Why Is It Called Florida Weaving?

The answer is very simple, like all this outstanding support method for your tomatoes: it was first used in Florida, but it is now spreading worldwide

Amber Noyes

Written By

Amber Noyes

Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.

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