How to Water a Hanging Tomato Plant

Overview

Growing tomatoes upside down has become popular among suburban gardeners as well as urban apartment dwellers. Whether in a bag or a plastic bucket, hanging plants stay away from ground-hugging viruses and conserve space. The only problem with hanging tomatoes in the air is how to water them regularly enough to keep these sun-loving plants hydrated. The results often justify the efforts, though, and the unique hanging garden concept provides a way to get kids and grownups alike away from the video games and into the outdoors.

The Basic Process

Step 1

Water hanging plants daily from the top of the hanging bag or bucket. Always water in very early morning or late afternoon to minimize evaporation.

Step 2

Add soil to maintain soil level in the container. Frequent watering "settles" soil and some is bound to wash out the hole at the bottom along the plant stem. Try to water just until the water begins to run out the bottom of the container.

Step 3

Mulch the bottom of the container around the plant's stem with newspaper or planting wool to retain the roots and hold soil.

Soda Bottle Gravity

Step 1

Cut across the bottom of a plastic 1- or 2-liter soda bottle. To minimize evaporation, cut a hole in the side of the bottle instead of cutting off the top. Make a side opening close to the bottom of the bottle and large enough to admit the head of your sprinkling can or spout of the pitcher used to water your plants.

Step 2

Turn the plastic bottle upside down in the top of the container or fit it through the hole in the bucket or bag top.

Step 3

Fill the plastic bottle with water and refill when the water level drops below the point on the bottle where you can see it.

Coffee Can Drip

Step 1

Remove the lid and tap four to eight holes around the bottom edges of a plastic coffee can.

Step 2

Cut a hole in the can lid in which to pour water; this will also cut down on surface evaporation.

Step 3

Sink the bottom of the can into the surface of the soil at the top of the hanging bag or bucket.

Step 4

Fill the can with water and check daily for a week or two to determine how often the can should be refilled.

Wick Irrigation

Step 1

Cut the binding ends off three or four long white athletic shoelaces. Use the largest laces you can find.

Step 2

Lay the laces in the container as you fill it with soil so the laces reach downward like roots from the top of the container as it hangs.

Step 3

Drill a hole in the plastic bottle cap or several holes in the bottom of a plastic coffee can and string the laces through. Tie the strings together in a knot to hold them in the container. Cut off the binding tape once the laces have been secured in the container.

Step 4

Keep the bottle or can filled with water as with the gravity or drip methods.

Tips and Warnings

  • Over-watering or irregular watering patterns can cause blossom end rot in upside down tomatoes as well as those that grow right side up. Monitor water usage carefully for a week or more before trusting any irrigation device to have a regular drip rate. Heat, sunlight and rainfall all affect how fast any system will provide water to plants. Avoid using dark materials for containers in areas where summers are hot and sunny to avoid burning roots. Limited soil volume means that roots heat and dry out faster than they do when grown in garden soil where they are insulated.

Things You'll Need

  • Hanging tomato plant
  • Plastic bottle or coffee container
  • Sharp matte knife
  • Ice pick or nail
  • Mallet or hammer
  • Small drill
  • Long white cotton athletic shoe laces

References

  • Oklahoma History Net: My Experience Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
  • Chicago Garden: Pop Bottle Drip Irrigation

Who Can Help

  • Old Fashioned Living: Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
  • Learn About Garden Irrigation: How to Install a Drip Irrigation System With An Automatic Timer
Keywords: water tomatoes, hanging plants, upside down, tomato bag

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.