tomato plants in cages have fallen over

Tomato plants loaded with fruit fall over in tomato cages.

Updated: February 20, 2023

What causes plants to lodge or fall over?

Heavy fruit load or insufficient support

broken stem on a tomato plant loaded with fruit
Broken stem on a tomato plant

A heavy load of fruit can sometimes tear the un-supported branches of tomato plants. Pepper and eggplant branches can become semi-woody and brittle by season's end and break under a heavy fruit load. Provide adequate support to these vegetable plants and harvest with care. Avoid pulling pepper and eggplant fruit; use a knife or pruners to harvest fruits.

Storm damage

holes in squash leaf from hail storm
Hail damage to a squash leaf

Large vegetable plants, particularly corn, eggplant, pepper, squash, and tomato, are subject to breakage from strong winds and driving rain. Corn plants that have lodged will not grow straight again. Hail can tatter, shred and break plant leaves and stems as well. Prevent storm damage by providing sufficient support for all large and tall plants. Storm damage is more likely when plants have a heavy load of fruits or ears. Pepper and eggplant should always be staked, caged, or otherwise supported. Corn plants can be held up by spacing fence posts around the planting and running parallel lines of strong twine from post to post. This will keep the outer plants standing tall and those plants can then support inner plants that would otherwise lodge with heavy winds.

corn knocked over by the wind
Corn knocked over in a storm