How to Plant Upside-Down Tomatoes


Tomatoes are a versatile fruit that will grow well in any container, which makes them a good choice for the patio garden. While the recent commercial fads of growing tomatoes upside-down are touted as "revolutionary," master gardeners at universities across the United States agree that doing so is more of a conversation piece than a more effective way to grow a tomato plant. If you plan to give the method a try, you can skip the expensive commercial products that are only good for one growing season and create your own upside-down container out of a 5-gallon bucket.

Step 1

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

Step 2

Straddle your bucket between two sturdy surfaces such as a pair of wooden horses for stability to access the hole.

Step 3

Thread a tomato seedling through the hole from below the bucket by pushing the root ball through. Roots are much hardier than tender leaves and branches--damaged roots can heal while damage to a new plant can be fatal.

Step 4

Anchor the plant in place with landscaping fabric or sphagnum moss. Have another person help you by gently holding the plant in place for this and the next step. The fabric or moss will help keep the plant secure and prevent soil loss through the hole, while still allowing for drainage.

Step 5

Fill your container with a quality potting soil amended with compost for proper nutrition. Have your helper hold the plant as you fill the bucket. Allow two inches of room from the top.

Step 6

Hang your container from the handle in a sunny location.

Step 7

Water thoroughly and fertilize with a commercial product made for tomatoes or any low-nitrogen formula. Tomatoes grow best when kept moist but not wet.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid heavy fruit varieties, opting for medium to cherry tomato plants for best results.

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


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

Who Can Help

  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden
Keywords: container vegetable gardening, topsy-turvy tomato, hanging basket tomatoes

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.