Topsy Turvy Tomato Planting Instructions


Topsy turvy tomato planters are one of the latest gardening fads with commercial products found on shelves anywhere from drug stores to garden centers. Most topsy turvy products are only good for one growing season and cost upward of $20. With a bucket you probably have in your garage, you can make one that can be used again and again.

Step 1

Drill a 2-inch hole in the center of the bottom of a clean bucket.

Step 2

Place the bucket between two sturdy surfaces, such as a pair of wooden workhorses, for stability to access the hole.

Step 3

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

Step 4

Use sphagnum moss or a piece of landscaping fabric to hold the tomato plant in place. Have a helper hold the plant in place. The moss or fabric is needed not only to help anchor the plant but to keep loose soil from falling out.

Step 5

Amend your potting soil by adding compost and mixing well. Tomatoes grow best in soil that is high in phosphorus and potassium, and lower in nitrogen. Using a blend of soil specially designed for tomatoes is helpful.

Step 6

Fill bucket with potting soil, keeping 2 inches of clearance at the top. Have your helper hold the plant to keep it from slipping out.

Step 7

Hang bucket in sunny location.

Step 8

Water regularly, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. Fertilize with a commercial product formulated for tomatoes as instructed

Tips and Warnings

  • Heavy varieties, such as beefsteaks, are best grown in normal containers. Leave your topsy turvy planter for medium or cherry-sized fruits. Avoid fertilizing with too much nitrogen--tomatoes will grow huge plants with no fruit if given too much nitrogen.

Things You'll Need

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


  • Old Fashioned Living: Growing Tomatoes Upside Down?
  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden

Who Can Help

  • Purdue University Extension: Tomatoes
Keywords: upside down tomato planter, container vegetable gardening, 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.