How to Grow Plants Upside Down in a Bucket


Growing plants upside down in a bucket saves space and time. Upside down planters eliminate the need for weeding and mulch. They reduce or eliminate the risk of soil-borne diseases. The method provides a way to have fresh produce for those lacking garden space. Most vegetables, herbs and small fruit perform well in containers. When planted at a convenient height they make gardening accessible to anyone. The simple upside down bucket planter is reusable and can last for years.

Step 1

Clean a 5-gallon bucket and lid with hot water and soap. Rinse until all traces of the soap wash away. Hardware stores sell 5-gallon buckets, but you can often find free used ones. As long as you thoroughly clean them, they work just as well.

Step 2

Cut a 2-inch diameter circular hole with a sharp knife in the center of the bottom of the bucket. You can cut more than one hole depending on what you want to plant. For instance, if you grow strawberries or small herbs you can cut more holes in the bottom and some up the sides of the bucket. Space the holes to the plants recommended spacing requirements.

Step 3

Poke small drainage holes on the sides of the bucket 2 inches up from the bottom. Space the drainage holes 3 inches apart all the way around the bucket.

Step 4

Place the plant or plants into the bucket with the roots facing toward the top. Gently thread the stem and leaves through the hole. Leave most of the stem of a tomato plant in the bucket with the roots as close to the top as possible.

Step 5

Fill the bucket with a lightweight potting medium using a large scoop or trowel. You can purchase a pre-made mix or make your own. A light mix consists of one part peat, one part compost, one part sand and a balanced slow-release fertilizer. It is helpful to have a second pair of hands to hold the plants in place while you fill the bucket.

Step 6

Place the lid on the bucket. You can place plants in the top of the planter as well. Spreading, shallow rooted plants that are light feeders make a good choice. Small annual flowers placed in the top provide color and interest.

Step 7

Hang the bucket on a sturdy hook or other support. The bucket's handle works well as a built-in hanger. Choose a site that receives full sun and has some wind protection.

Step 8

Water the upside down planter often. Check the top 2 inches of soil. If it feels dry, provide water until it drips from the drainage holes. Container gardens tend to dry out quickly so check on them every day.

Step 9

Apply fertilizer after two months have passed. Fertilize every two weeks following directions on the package.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon bucket with lid
  • Sharp knife
  • Potting medium
  • Balanced fertilizer


  • Cornell University: Growing Vegetable, Herbs and Annual Flowers in Containers
  • AZ Master Gardener Manual: Container Garden
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Growing Vegetables in Container Gardens
Keywords: growing plants upside down, upside down planters, bucket planter

About this Author

Kitten Arbuckle is a freelance writer living in Indiana. Arbuckle has been writing for websites such as Garden Guides since early 2009. Her education includes training in landscaping, certification in herbal medicine from a botanical sanctuary and a variety of college courses.