Although it may seem strange, and it certainly is a departure from conventional growing, many gardeners are embracing an interesting way of growing tomatoes…
… upside down!
This container method of growing is particularly well suited to certain varieties of tomato plants with cherry and Roma tomatoes being one of the best types to grow in this fashion.
Before we dig into the how of growing upside down tomatoes (sometims called topsy-turvy tomatoes), let’s unpack a few of the advantages and potential challenges of this growing method so you can decide if it’s right for you.
7 Benefits of Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
1. Awesome limited space growing technique
If you have limited space for growing but still want to enjoy delicious homegrown tomatoes, the upside-down method may be your best option.
If you have a sunny balcony or patio your upside-down tomatoes will happily provide a generous harvest.
2. No stake struggles
If you have grown conventional tomatoes before you know well the challenge that staking brings.
Sometimes the stakes break, sometimes they aren’t big enough, sometimes they interfere with the growth of the plant and sometimes they just don’t work.
When you grow tomatoes in an upside-down fashion, your staking struggles will end.
3. Less disease and pests
Growing tomatoes upside down helps to eliminate nasty pests like cutworms and disease like ground fungus. This means healthy plants and less work for you.
4. Easy to set up
It is easy to set up an upside-down planter and takes less time than conventional gardening. There is no digging required which makes this a simple project for anyone.
5. Fewer weeds
Growing tomatoes in a conventional fashion almost guarantees that you will have weeds. When you grow tomato plants upside down, there is virtually no exposed soil so no way for weeds to take hold.
6. Better air circulation
Upside down planters allow for excellent air circulation which is vital to the health of plants. Since the containers are suspended, air can move freely around the plant.
Once you put a tomato plant in the ground, that is where it is going to stay.
As long as you place your upside-down planter where the tomato plant will get plenty of sunshine you can move it around as desired. You can even bring it indoors for the night if the temperatures are forecast to become cold.
4 Challenges of Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
Container gardening presents a challenge for watering and growing tomatoes upside down is no exception. Containers dry out quickly and can just as easily be overwatered leading to rot.
Upside down tomato planters can be heavy. If you don’t have the correct hanging hardware or DIY skills, it can be a disaster.
As mentioned above, tomatoes require plenty of sun to thrive. If you don’t have a sunny spot on your patio or balcony, your plant will not produce as it should.
Depending on where you live, your upside-down planter may take quite a spin and beating in the wind. Provide protection if possible
Where To Buy An Upside Down Tomato Planter
Before we move onto making your own upside down tomato planter, here’s what you can buy.
There are two highly reviewed upside town tomato planters.
Firstly, this two pack of fabric hanging tomato planters is the best reviewed on Amazon with many reviews commenting that the strength of the fabric means these tomato planters will last many growing seasons.
Take a look at it here and read through the reviews where many customers have shared images of their success.
The second option is this Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter.
This has received much more mixed reviews in recent months. It seems the Topsy Turvy planter was updated with a “new and improved” version which, according to reviews, is not improved.
However there still seems to be many positive reviews and the description states that this planter can also be used to grow many types of herbs, plus peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and more.
Take a look at the product details and read the reviews here to see if this planter is for you.
How To Make Your Own Upside Down Tomato Planter
Although you can purchase upside-down planters, you can also make your own pretty easily.
Here are two options.
The first is for an attractive planter using a pretty metal and coconut coir insert basket. This basket really gives you two for one. You can plant the top of the basket as well as have your tomato growing out the bottom, upside down.
The second is using a 5-gallon bucket. This one is not quite as attractive but equally practical.
Metal and Coconut Coir Hanging Basket
What you need
- 14-inch metal hanging basket with a coconut coir liner – you can get three from here on Amazon.
- Sharp garden scissors.
- Lightweight organic potting soil with fertilizer and vermiculite
- Organic fertilizer – try making your own.
- 4 sweet basil plants – young plants
- 1 young cherry tomato plant (determinate variety)
How to make it
- Turn the basket upside down and make a slit big enough for a root ball.
- Turn the pot right side and fill ¾ full with lightweight potting soil.
- Breakup the roots on your basil plants and plant them in the top of the basket.
- Find a sunny spot to hang your basket.
- Remove a little soil from around the root of your tomato plant.
- Push the root ball gently up into the slice you cut in the liner.
- Once your plant is secure, push the liner back around the plant to hold it secure.
- Water generously.
5-Gallon Bucket Planter
What you need
- 5-gallon bucket with lid – you can buy them, but you’ll often find them available for free in your local area.
- Sharp utility knife
- Drill and 1/8th-inch drill bit
- Lightweight potting soil that contains fertilizer and vermiculite
- Determinate Roma tomato plant
- Organic fertilizer
How to make it
- Carefully cut a 3-inch hole in the bottom of the bucket using a sharp utility knife.
- Drill 6 small holes around the larger hole in the bottom of the bucket. This is for circulation.
- Drill 6 small holes in the bucket lid.
- Hang your bucket up in a spot that you can reach the plant.
- Loosen the root ball on your tomato plant and place it in the hole so that the plant is hanging upside down.
- Fill your bucket with damp lightweight potting soil.
- Hang in a sunny spot
- Water well.
Tips for Success
- Keep your basket/bucket well watered but not waterlogged.
- Fertilize with an organic start fertilizer and use an organic grow fertilizer such as fish emulsion throughout the growing season.
- Pick tomatoes as soon as they are ready and to encourage more fruit.
- Once you’ve mastered growing tomatoes upside down, try cucumbers, peppers, jalapenos and more.