How to Plant Upside-Down Tomato Plants

Overview

If you love the idea of growing fresh tomatoes but you have no gardening space, or if you're simply tired of the bending , staking, digging and stooping involved in growing tomatoes, planting tomatoes upside down may be worth a try. Tomato plants grown upside down aren't as susceptible to disease and pests as tomatoes grown in the ground, and rabbits and other hungry critters will have a difficult time reaching the sweet fruit. Although you can purchase planters specifically made for upside-down growing, you can easily make your own from a few simple household items. Plant the tomato in spring after all danger of frost has safely passed.

Step 1

Drill a hole in an overhang, beam, solid wood post or other sturdy structure, then screw a sturdy hook into the hole. The hook will need to hold at least 80 pounds, as the tomato planter will be heavy when it's filled with potting soil. Place the hook where the tomato plant will receive at least six to hour hours of daily sunshine.

Step 2

Purchase a tomato plant at a garden supply store or greenhouse. Choose a tall tomato plant with a sturdy stem and bright green leaves but no blossoms. Avoid plants with yellowing or wilted leaves.

Step 3

Start with a five-gallon plastic bucket with a lid and a sturdy, secure handle. A white or light-colored bucket is best, as dark colors will store heat, causing the potting soil to dry out quickly.

Step 4

Use a sharp craft knife to cut a 2- to 3-inch hole in the bottom of the bucket. Cut a similar hole in the center of the lid.

Step 5

Hang the bucket temporarily at waist level while you plant the tomato. Use a rope or chain to suspend the bucket from the hook, or hang the bucket on a broomstick and suspend the broomstick between two chairs.

Step 6

Remove all but the top two leaves of the tomato plant. Place the tomato plant in the hole with the roots inside the bucket and only about an inch of the plant sticking out of the hole. Holding the tomato plant with one hand, scoop commercial potting soil into the top of the bucket, distributing the potting soil evenly until the plant is held securely in place. Continue adding potting soil to within 2 inches of the top of the bucket.

Step 7

Place the lid on the bucket and hang the bucket from the hook. Insert a garden hose into the hole in the top of the bucket. Turn the hose on a slow drip and let it run until the potting soil is wet throughout and water begins to run though the hole in the bottom.

Step 8

Keep the potting soil evenly moist and don't allow it to dry out. During hot summer weather, the tomato plant will probably need to be watered daily.

Step 9

Feed the tomato plant two weeks after planting and continue to fertilize the plant every two weeks. Use a water-soluble fertilizer for tomato plants, and apply it according to the recommendations. Don't over-fertilize, as too much fertilizer can cause lush foliage at the expense of fruit.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Sturdy hook
  • Tomato plant
  • 5-gallon plastic bucket with lid and sturdy handle
  • Sharp craft knife
  • Rope and chain or broomstick and two chairs
  • Commercial potting soil
  • Garden hose
  • Water-soluble fertilizer for tomato plants

References

  • Everything You Need to Know About Growing Tomatoes: How to Grow Tomatoes Upside Down
  • Practical Home and Garden: How to Make Your Own Upside Down Tomato Planter
  • Rutgers University: Would You Recommend the Upside Down Pots...?
Keywords: upside-down tomato plants, tomato plants, plant tomatoe

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.