How to Grow Topsy Turvy Tomatoes


Growing tomatoes topsy-turvy--or upside down--in a container is more a conversation piece than a more beneficial way to do container gardening. A well-rooted tomato plant, given plenty of water, sun and proper nutrition, will grow in any container. Commercial upside-down growing systems last only for one season, and some complain that they are too flimsy for large plants. Create your own topsy-turvy tomato container with a 5-gallon bucket for much less money than you'd spend on a commercial one.

Step 1

Drill a 2-inch hole in the bottom of a clean 5-gallon bucket with a sturdy handle.

Step 2

Place your bucket on a sturdy surface in a way that you can access the bottom of it, such as straddling two wooden horses.

Step 3

Thread a tomato seedling into the hole in the bottom of your bucket from the inside out, carefully maneuvering its branches and leaves through the hole. Damage done to leaves and branches can heal, while damage done to root systems can be fatal.

Step 4

Line the hole with landscape fabric or sphagnum moss to anchor the seedling, while another person holds the tomato plant in place. This will keep the plant from falling out and will keep the soil in place.

Step 5

Fill your bucket with potting soil amended with compost. Have your helper hold the plant in place as you fill past the root ball, no higher than 2 inches from the top.

Step 6

Hang the bucket from a sturdy hook in full sun.

Step 7

Water thoroughly, then keep the soil moist but not wet throughout your tomato's lifespan.

Step 8

Fertilize your topsy-turvy tomato with a commercial product made for tomatoes, or any low-nitrogen formula.

Tips and Warnings

  • Tomatoes given too much nitrogen will grow huge, gorgeous plants but no fruit.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon bucket with handle
  • Drill
  • 2 wooden horses
  • Sphagnum moss or landscaping fabric
  • Potting soil (amended with compost)
  • Tomato seedling
  • Fertilizer


  • Gardening Know How: Upside-Down Gardening
  • Old-Fashioned Living: Growing Tomatoes Upside Down?

Who Can Help

  • OSU Extension: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden
Keywords: upside-down tomato, container vegetable gardening, urban tomato gardening

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.