Small-fruited tomato varieties suitable for hanging baskets or containers make an excellent choice for upside-down tomato planters as well. The problem with larger-fruited plants is that the tomatoes lack the support of stakes or cages and can rip off in high winds or thunderstorms, damaging the branches as well. Look for midget or dwarf varieties described as having compact vines.
Cherry type tomatoes produce fruit 1 inch in diameter or less, often used in salads, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Cherry tomato plants range from dwarf (Tiny Tim) to 7-footers (Sweet 100). One standard cherry tomato plant can often suffice for a family, since they generally produce abundantly. Many fruit in 65 to 70 days, including Sweet Million, a red, crack-resistant tomato with large clusters; Yellow Pear, with clusters of yellow, pear-shaped fruit; Large Red Cherry, with solid, deep red, tasty fruit; and Mountain Belle. Super Sweet produces large clusters of round, uniform fruit with high sugar levels, according to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida Extension.
Extension services also recommend BHN 268, Camelia, Cherry Blossom, Super Sweet 100 VF, Shiren, Sun Gold, Sweetheart of the Patio, Tumbling Tom, Small Fry, Yellow Canary, Aunt Ruby's German Cherry, Whippersnapper, Tumbler,
Red Robin and
Even smaller than cherry tomatoes and a much better seller in supermarkets, grape tomatoes present a more oblong shape. Varieties recommended by extension services such as the University of Florida include Santa F1, Little Mama, Napa, Juliet, Brixmore, Cupid, Jolly Elf and St. Nick. Or you can try Smarty, Sweet Hearts and Tami G for your upside-down tomato planter. Most produce in 59 to 75 days.
Paste or Roma tomatoes have pear-shaped fruits with meaty interiors and few seeds, suitable more for canning and sauces than salads. Some larger varieties may be too heavy for an upside-down planter, so try the more compact Window Box Roma tomato plant, with its 2- to 2 1/2-oz. fruits. Or you can try the even tinier Cherry Romas.