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How To Grow Upside Down Tomato Plants

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.

7. Portability

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

1. Watering

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.

2. Hardware

Upside down tomato planters can be heavy. If you don’t have the correct hanging hardware or DIY skills, it can be a disaster.

3. Sun

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.

4. Wind

Depending on where you live, your upside-down planter may take quite a spin and beating in the wind. Provide protection if possible

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.
  • 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

  1. Turn the basket upside down and make a slit big enough for a root ball.
  2. Turn the pot right side and fill ¾ full with lightweight potting soil.
  3. Breakup the roots on your basil plants and plant them in the top of the basket.
  4. Find a sunny spot to hang your basket.
  5. Remove a little soil from around the root of your tomato plant.
  6. Push the root ball gently up into the slice you cut in the liner.
  7. Once your plant is secure, push the liner back around the plant to hold it secure.
  8. 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

  1. Carefully cut a 3-inch hole in the bottom of the bucket using a sharp utility knife.
  2. Drill 6 small holes around the larger hole in the bottom of the bucket. This is for circulation.
  3. Drill 6 small holes in the bucket lid.
  4. Hang your bucket up in a spot that you can reach the plant.
  5. Loosen the root ball on your tomato plant and place it in the hole so that the plant is hanging upside down.
  6. Fill your bucket with damp lightweight potting soil.
  7. Hang in a sunny spot
  8. Water well.

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