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How to Train Garden Plants to Climb a Trellis

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

There are many different reasons to encourage and train garden plants to grow and climb a trellis system. One of the best reasons to trellis plants is that it increases the square footage and yield of your garden. By doing so you have not only horizontal space but vertical space. In addition, trellising the plants off the ground reduces the incidence of pests and diseases that attack your crops. It also increases the symmetry and color of your produce since they are more evenly exposed to sunlight.

I really like to use cattle panels for my garden, galvanized fencing works too. They are readily available at our local feed store and work nicely due to their size. The panels I use are 4 feet by 16 feet. I have used them for anything that climbs including cucumbers, climbing beans, honeydew, cantaloupe, pumpkins, and watermelon. Some of the larger watermelons and pumpkins need to have a little more support so they don’t break off the vine. I have crocheted little watermelon hammocks that I attach to the panel to help support the melons. I have used wire “shelves” in the past. There really are a number of options to help with weight issues. If you have ideas make sure you tell us about them in the comments below.

When and How to Train Garden Plants:

The beginning of the growing season is such an important time to train garden plants to grow up a trellis system. I walk through my garden every other day, or so, and as the vines grow long enough I begin to tuck and weave the ends through the panels. After the vine gets to the top of the panel it needs much less help and naturally spreads out.

The beans I twist around the poles to mimic their natural inclination. This year I planted pumpkins at the base of my sunflowers so I have been using the sunflower stalk to trellis them instead of the panels.

Training Tomatoes:

While I am encouraging my garden to grow up I also work with my tomatoes to keep them growing in their cages. Tomatoes need cage support or the plants droop and even fall over or break their stalks from the weight of the tomatoes. I have adapted my cattle panels into tomato cages, which you can see in more detail in our video and post; How to Plant and Grow Tomatoes the Best Way, and our garden setup video; The Key to a Successful Garden.

It really doesn’t take very long to walk through my garden and it gives me a regular update on how the garden is producing. I honestly love this quiet time at the beginning of my day. I also love the resulting whimsical feel of green growing walls all around me.

Trellising your garden plants is a great method to use and reduces the needed floor space in your garden as well as opening up your walkways more. Hopefully, you’ll give it a try. It has worked very well for me.

If you have any other gardening tips or horizontal gardening ideas we would love to hear about them, feel free to post comments and even images of your own garden below.

I was just playing on Amazon and found this cute cucumber support trellis.

Also, if for some reason your plants are having trouble latching onto the trellis I found these great Plant Stem Gripper Clips that do not inhibit the growth of the plant but help secure it to the trellis.

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