How to Build a Tomato Tree


A tomato tree, commercially known as a topsy turvy, is a tomato plant that grows in a bag that hangs suspended from an anchored hook. The tomato tree must be hung from a sturdy surface, such as a clothesline post or a swing set frame. A shepherd’s hook is not a suitable stand for a tomato tree because most aren't designed to support the weight of a full-size tomato plant, soil and water.

Step 1

Turn over a 5-gallon bucket so that it stands on its wide mouth. Drill a hole in the center of the bucket with a drill and spade bit.

Step 2

Slip the handle of the bucket through the sturdy handle of a shovel. Place the ends of the handle over the backs of two chairs so that the bucket is held aloft.

Step 3

Cut an 3-inch tall by 3-inch wide "X" in the center of a coffee filter. Place the coffee filter in the bottom of the bucket so that the "X" is centered over the hole in the bucket.

Step 4

Select an indeterminate variety of tomato plant such as Beefsteak, which is well suited for growing in a 5-gallon bucket. Remove all but the topmost branches of the tomato plant.

Step 5

Slip the root ball of the tomato through the hole in the bottom of the bucket and through the coffee filter. Pull the tomato by its rootball into the bucket so that only the topmost branches of the plant are visible through the hole in the bottom of the bucket. Hold the tomato in place with one hand, and fill the bucket with commercial potting soil. The coffee filter will hold the soil in place in the bucket and the soil will hold the tomato plant in place.

Step 6

Hang the bucket from the clothesline post or swing set frame so that it receives full sun. Make sure the plant’s hook is anchored into the frame of your home if you hang the plant from a eave. Make sure the eave does not shade the plant.

Step 7

Plant beneficial companion plants, such as basil or marigolds into the top portion of the bucket.

Tips and Warnings

  • Tomatoes that receive less than six hours of sunlight daily do not produce abundant fruit. A fully-grown plant anchored in the plywood façade of your eaves with no frame behind it will pull free of the plywood.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon plastic bucket
  • Spade bit
  • Drill
  • Coffee filter
  • Scissors
  • Beefsteak tomato
  • Potting soil
  • Clothesline T-post


  • Extension: Tomato Tree?
  • Washington State University Extenion: Try Something Different
  • Extension: Gardening Trends for 2010: ‘Smart and Green’

Who Can Help

  • Old Fashioned Living: Growing Tomatoes Upside Down? An Alternative Garden Plan
Keywords: Topsy Turvy Tomatos, tomato tree construction, tomato hanging baskets

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."