Tuesday 9 April 2013


The other day I wrote about the types of container I use for growing tomato plants, and the arrangements I use for supporting the plants when they get tall. I mentioned at the time a type of cane-support that I use, and that I had been unable to source any more of them. Some helpful readers sent me links to websites offering alternatives, and I have bought a couple of items to try. (In particular, my thanks to Laura!)

One type is incredibly simple. It is just a piece of plastic tube moulded onto a flat base. You simply put it into your plant pot and slot the cane into it. It has the blessings of simplicity and cheapness (25p each), but the tube is narrow (internal diameter approx 15mm) and will only accommodate thin canes. It will probably be good for supporting relatively small plants - such as chillies. You can get these from Gardening Naturally. On their website the price is shown as 30p each, and you can order singly if you want to, but at the checkout the price is adjusted to 25p each.

The other type is more like the items I have been using for some years now, but smaller. It is supplied flat-packed (in sets of 3), and to assemble it you just push the end of the vertical piece into a socket that sticks up from the triangular horizontal piece.

This type is designed for use with Growbags. The idea is that the weight of the Growbag sitting on top of the triangular base steadies the vertical piece sitting above it, into which you slot a cane.

I don't use Growbags, but this type of device fits well enough in the base of a large container.

On one of mine the socket is badly welded on (i.e. not vertical), which will make achieving a good position that much more difficult, but at least you can swivel the vertical piece in the socket in order to get it into a suitable position in the base of the container. The internal diameter of the rings on the vertical piece of this type of cane-support is marginally larger (approx 18mm) than the plastic sockets on the other type, and will therefore accommodate slightly bigger canes.

The problem I forsee though is that these new items are much smaller and flimsier than my older ones, and may not properly support the weight of a big tomato plant laden with fruit. Here is a comparison on the two:

Maybe these days people grow smaller tomato plants in their Growbags? That photo also shows very well how the new one doesn't stand up straight. I think I will have to bend it, so let's hope it doesn't break...

The "Tomato Growbag Cane Support" is widely available, but I got mine from The Gardeners Shop in Croydon, Surrey, simply because their postage rates were the cheapest I could find. I paid £8.94 for a pack of 3, including VAT and delivery.

It will be a long time before I put these new acquisitions into use, but when I do I will let you know how they perform.


  1. Great idea Mark, sadly mine is a Heath Robinson arrangement of a builders bucket with strong cord tied to the handle the other end tied to the greenhouse strut (no good for outdoors of course)

  2. I think a do it yourself session will be needed!

  3. I like the first idea - with the tube to slot the cane into, at 25p each it's got to be worth a try!

  4. I agree with Sue as those new ones look rather flimsy compared to the previous model.

  5. Yeah you may have to rig something up yourself to use. I've used pots with a couple of holes drilled through the side (for a straight sided pot only). I put the cane along the side of the pot and wired it to the pot with the holes. The flaw of course is that the weight of the plant is to the side of the pot, so it becomes tippy if not attached to something (I used a fence to attach it to). Though if you used two canes (for tomatoes, not peppers) you could put one on either side of the pot which would make it more stable. Good luck finding what works for you.

  6. Back in the day when I used to grow tomatoes in the greenhouse, I worked "top down" - growing them up strings suspended from above. Outdoors, they'd be planted in the ground and I could shove canes in deeply without any "third-party" support. Mum used to grow them in pots outdoors along the garage wall. Dad fixed a horizontal wire or two to the wall using screws. Mum shoved a cane in the pot and tied it to one of the wires. Both options cost a few pence. Bit of thinking and you don't need these gimmicky things. And no "will they break" worries!


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