How to Start Upside Down Tomatoes


Growing tomato plants upside down may sound rather strange, but if you have limited space for growing a garden this is a convenient way to still have fresh tomatoes during the summer. It may also result in a larger yield of produce than plants grown in the ground, since the stems receive more light and air when grown upside down. Getting started growing your tomatoes upside down is fairly simple and can be a fun project to do with kids.

Step 1

Drill a hole about 2 to 3 inches in diameter in the bottom of a five-gallon bucket. You should see an indentation in the bottom of the bucket which you can use as a guide for drilling your hole. After drilling the hole, set the bucket right side up on a pair of sawhorses so the hole is unobstructed.

Step 2

Carefully insert your tomato plant stem side down through the hole so no more than 2 inches of the stem comes through the bottom of the bucket. The roots will be inside the bucket with a portion of the stem.

Step 3

Secure the plant. Holding the root ball so the plant does not fall out of the hole or move, firmly pack newspaper, coffee filters or sphagnum moss between the root ball and the hole. This holds the plant in place until the roots take hold and grow.

Step 4

Add a 2-inch layer of potting soil around and over the root ball inside the bucket. It helps to have someone holding the plant on the outside so it does not move. Add a layer of compost over the soil and finish by filling with potting soil up to 1 inch from the top. Firm the soil over with your hands. The plant should be secure.

Step 5

Hang your bucket by the handle and water thoroughly until the water runs out of the bottom. If the soil settles more than 2 inches below the rim of the bucket, add more so it is 1 inch from the rim. Check the soil level periodically and add more soil if needed.

Step 6

Water your tomatoes every day after planting to keep the soil moist. Continue watering each day through early summer into fall. When the water runs out of the bottom hole, you have watered it well.

Step 7

Add a fish emulsion fertilizer to the top of the bucket in early summer and water in well. You can also use any balanced water-soluble fertilizer specifically for tomatoes. Add once a month until fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Tomato plants
  • 5-gallon bucket with handle
  • 2 sawhorses
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Drill
  • Newspaper, coffee filters or sphagnum moss


  • Old Fashioned Living; Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
  • Growing Tomatoes; Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
Keywords: upside down tomatoes, growing tomatoes upside down, starting tomatoes upside down

About this Author

Residing in Southern Oregon, Amy Madtson has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008 with a focus on health, pregnancy, crafts and gardening. Her work has been published on websites such as eHow and Garden Guides, among others. Madtson has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1993.